Caryn Sullivan: Give Omar and her student loans their walking papers

According to Minnesota’s most progressive congresswoman, when some individuals make poor choices, others, with whom they have no connection or relationship, should pay the price.

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at a February 2020 town hall. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

As families prepare to send students back to school, many are facing financial pressures unlike anything they’ve experienced before. Amazingly, with the price of school supplies nearly double and food prices through the roof, Rep. Ilhan Omar continues to press the Biden administration to eliminate student loan debt.

In June, Omar sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona asking for details on a plan that would add to the $18.5 billion in canceled student debt already passed on to taxpayers.

Omar is one of the leaders of a shrill political clique that views some people as victims and rejects personal responsibility. According to Minnesota’s most progressive congresswoman, when some individuals make poor choices, others, with whom they have no connection or relationship, should pay the price.

Omar also personifies self-serving political interests. One of the members of the progressive contingent known as “The Squad,” Omar stands to benefit from the plan she’s pushed for the past several years.

Omar is one of 13 Democratic representatives who have pushed for student loan forgiveness and owe more than a combined $1 million in student loan debt. Student loan payments and interest were frozen during COVID, though representatives continued to collect their $174,000 salaries (plus generous benefits).

On Aug. 2, Omar tweeted, “There are tens of thousands of people in my district who can’t afford to buy a home, start a business, or raise a family because of their student loan debt. We could allow this to continue, or we could cancel it, today.”

Even in the most prosperous of times, it takes a lot of audacity to ask people who (a) paid off their own student debt or (b) never acquired it, to pay off debt for someone who did.

Though some voters favor it, many have a visceral reaction to it. Opponents fairly pose questions such as, “If I join the military or work road construction or if I clean hotel rooms, why should I pay the debt of an unemployable art history major or an elected official whose health insurance and retirement benefits are greater than anything I could imagine?”

Even if the student loan cancellation plan had merit, the timing couldn’t be worse.

Families are turning to organizations that hand out school supplies because it costs 40 percent more this year than last to send kids back to school. Small business owners are reeling from high gas prices.

It’s no wonder seniors, who often live on fixed incomes and whose Social Security is taxed, are turning to food shelves because their housing and prescription drug costs are becoming unaffordable.

Our citizens are stretched and strained. But still, Omar and her cronies continue to insist on “canceling” debt that students knowingly — though, perhaps inadvisably — assumed.

Personal responsibility is one of the foundations of a well-functioning society. Hoisting one’s burden onto another is a heavy-handed move in a playbook that serves to further divide us by ideology.

One can only wonder how the issue breaks down among Omar’s constituents. How many are hanging onto hope that their debt will be passed on to taxpayers? If the plan prevails, how many others will be stuck paying for debt incurred by strangers, friends, or foes?

On Tuesday, voters can weigh in as Omar faces Don Samuels, a primary challenger reputed to place the interests of the community before his own. Will Omar’s self-interested policies prevail? Or will voters give Omar and her student debt their walking papers?


Caryn Sullivan

A retired attorney and author of the award-winning memoir, "Bitter or Better: Grappling With Life on the Op-Ed Page," Caryn Sullivan has inspired readers with her thoughtful commentary for the past two decades. To learn more about Caryn’s work or to connect, visit