Surprise: NBC’s Peter Alexander Grills KJP Over Biden’s Student Loan Handouts

May 23rd, 2024 3:26 PM

With President Biden on the road Monday and Tuesday then a joint press conference Thursday with the Kenyan president, reporters jammed a lot of questions into Wednesday’s press briefing to the ever-inept Karine Jean-Pierre. Thankfully, NBC’s Peter Alexander woke up ready to do his job with probing questions to the press secretary, even if they’re on the same side of the aisle. The topic was even more surprising: student loan debt cancelations.

Alexander went about it like the man who usually sits next to him (but not on this day) in Fox’s Peter Doocy. Alexander first pointed out she “opened today’s briefing by talking about the latest student loan cancelations” and asked her to respond to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) calling it “a massive wealth transfer for Americans who did not attend college to those who did” and “a shameful play to buy more votes”.



Jean-Pierre gave a classic, rambling answer worth reading in full (click “expand”):

I will say to the congressional member Mike Johnson — obviously, the speaker — is that what is shameful is that Republicans continue to get in the way of helping us deliver a little bit of breathing room for Americans who deserve that opportunity — who deserve you — heard me talk about — uh — uh — about Tiffany, the young woman who — who — um — one of the things that people should know and if — if you don’t is that when folks are — are receiving these — these — um — debt relief — uh — uh — announcements from President, they have an opportunity to tell their story. 

They have an opportunity to — to say why this matters to them and we’re talking about millions of Americans who now have an opportunity to start a life, have an opportunity to move forward in a way that where they can reach that American Dream or reach whatever it is that they wanted to do not just for themselves for — for — for them for their families, so we believe — and the President is not going to walk away from doing that. He believes it’s an important commitment that he made to — to Americans. It is a broken system. It is a broken system.

Alexander then unleashed his hardball:

[W]hat then is the White House’s message to those Americans who did not attend college for a variety of reasons, perhaps — including perhaps that they didn’t want to take on all the debt that went with it right now that they feel like, in some form, they are responsible for allowing those who did not to pay their fair share?

Jean-Pierre insisted this was proof Biden is “building an economy that leaves no one behind”, which Alexander immediately interjected with a reality check: “Are those people being left behind? The ones who didn’t get support because they didn’t go to college?”

The press secretary wanted nothing to do with this and plowed ahead with her world divorced from reality except for those whom the Biden camp needs to secure reelection. To his credit, Alexander didn’t back down (click “expand”):

JEAN-PIERRE: I hear your question, but this is — if you look at what the President has done more holistically over the past 3.5 years, he has tried to build an economy for everyone. This is one part of his economic policy. When you think about creating — creating 15 million jobs, many of those jobs if you think about the different — uh — uh — uh — different — uh — legislation that he’s obviously passed into law, whether it’s the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, Chips and Science Act, it’s creating jobs that are good, union-paying jobs that — where you don’t need a college education —  right — where you can make six figures and actually have that opportunity to start your family. He is creating an economy from the bottom up, middle out, making sure that the millionaires, billionaires and corporations are paying their fair share — fair share — right — not like Republicans in Congress who want to give them a tax giveaway. So, he’s trying to make sure — this is one part of his economic policy, but as he’s thinking forward, as he’s looking at all Americans, all communities, he wants to make sure that there is an economy that doesn’t leave — again — doesn’t leave anybody behind and as — historically, that trickle down economics does not work, and he does not want to see that, so we have given opportunities and we want to continue to give opportunities for folks who feel like they need a little bit more help.

ALEXANDER: And I guess to put just a fine point on it right —


ALEXANDER: — now for the 4.7 million Americans who have received this debt relief, the averages, you said, at the start of this — 

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. About 35,000.

ALEXANDER: — this was $35,000 their relief has been for, so I guess why don’t those individuals who didn’t receive $35,000 in debt cancellation deserve a $35,000 check from other Americans for what other means they would want to use it?

JEAN-PIERRE: You’re talking about the — 

ALEXANDER: The people who didn’t go to college, so they’re not getting debt relief — the $35,000 that they don’t get because they didn’t go.

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, we’re talking about folks who are in debt who are literally being crushed — literally being crushed....financially. Um — and — uh — so, they’re trying to get their lives back on track — right — they’re trying to get into a place because they took — they took a bet on themselves in a different way — right — and betting of — of themselves and going to college and some of them, it is difficult to do that, right? And they did that financially. It’s hurt them, and we want to give them that breathing room. But it’s not just folks who have debt because of colleges. We’re trying to help people in different — in different communities as well. Uh — folks who don’t have to get that college degree and can get — make six figure salary. That is one of the things that the president was very proud of when he passed the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, when he signed the Chips and Science Act. Those are really important components of what he’s trying to do as well. Let’s — if you think about making sure healthcare — healthcare is more affordable, getting that prescription drugs — many for diabetes, for cancer, making sure those costs are lower — insulin, so there are many ways that the President has made sure that Americans have what they need to move forward with their lives, create and build a family where they feel like they’re going after their dreams as well. And so, look, you know, we want to make sure that, again, the student loan piece is one part — one part of the President’s economic policy, and the President’s not going to step away from it. He’s not going to back down because he believes it’s the right thing to do.

A few minutes later, the Fox Business Network’s Grady Trimble returned to student loans, wondering why those who took out loans are, in the words of the undersecretary of education, “due forgiveness”.

“Everybody has a different story as to why they need student loans. Everybody has different reasoning as to why they want to go to college. I cannot speak for everyone,” Jean-Pierre mumbled, leading Trimble to ask it again.

Jean-Pierre doubled down about this “crushing financial burden” and insisted a “majority of Americans agree” with the regime on mass forgiveness. When Trimble pointed out a Fox “poll show[s] more than half disagree with using tax dollars” and then asked if inflation is made worse by these moves, Jean-Pierre stood pat.

Trimble’s Fox colleague Jacqui Heinrich had the Fox News seat and closed the briefing by stating the obvious that one could see Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) reintroducing of the failed Senate border bill as “a cynical attempt to try to show Americans that Democrats care about the border”.

Some following the five D’s of dodgeball by Jean-Pierre later, Heinrich fact-checked her on who ultimately has responsibility to control America’s borders: “[Y]ou opened briefing by saying it’s up to Republicans to do something to solve the problem or continue to use it as a political issue. The President has the authority to do something about this unilaterally.”

Later in the briefing, she really dropped the hammer on the border crisis to the point that Jean-Pierre could only say she’d defer to Senate Democrats:

Well, just because, in the framework through which is coming up again, again, not allowing for any changes, no indication this votes’s going to be different and it looks like, if anything, bringing up this vote again and setting it up to fail again, is really just an indication that Democrats know that they’re vulnerable on this issue?

To see the relevant transcript from the May 22 briefing, click here.