(CNS News) – During a debate highlighted mainly by the candidates’ personal controversies and stances on social issues, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock (D) and challenger Herschel Walker (R) clashed over student loan debt but apparently agreed that there should not be a federal minimum wage.
During the Oct. 14 debate, a remote viewer asked the candidates, “As a college student at the University of Georgia, me and my peers are often faced with confronting the rising costs that come with obtaining a college degree. In the United States Senate, would you support further forgiveness of student loan debt and, if so, how will you implement it, in the United States Senate, on a federal level?”
Senator Warnock expressed full support for President Joe Biden’s recent loan-bailout but stressed that more needs to be done.
“I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if it weren’t for low interest student loans and Pell Grants,” he said. “That’s why I pushed the president to do student debt relief. He did $10,000 and, with my urging, he did $20,000 for folks with Pell Grants. I think it was the right move.”
“It will spur entrepreneurship, home ownership, it helps kids in technical schools and vocational schools, not just four-year colleges,” said Warnock. “But we need reform. We shouldn’t be doing this again 10 years from now. And I’m working right now on the kind of reform we need, because college is outpacing the price of everything else in our economy.”
A moderator then asked Warnock, “Why do you believe this should be done through executive action instead of Congress? And also how would this be funded?”
“The president has already moved to do student debt relief,” said the Georgia Democrat. “And, um, there’s additional relief for folks like me who, when they got student loans, were Pell Grant eligible. But there’s no question we need reform in the system so that we can get the cost of college underway -- we don’t find ourselves here again. And that’s my position, thank you.”
The moderator then turned to Republican Herschel Walker, who took issue with Warnock’s support of the loan bailout.
“I was traveling around the state of Georgia, I talked to people, some people that wanted to go to college that couldn’t,” said Walker. “So they end up going and working on their father’s farm. Some military, wanted to go to college, they didn’t, so they went to the military and may have lost their arm. So, this is not right. Georgia people say it’s not right. And they say it’s unfair.”
“First of all, how could you transfer someone’s debt who owe it to someone that don’t owe it?” said Walker. “And also, Senator Warnock brags about making $400 billion that now, the taxpayer, all of you in the audience, got to pay for. You have to pay that debt. And I didn’t co-sign for anyone’s loan. I hope no one out here co-signed for anyone’s loan. Cause I didn’t co-sign for anyone’s loan. And it’s not right, it’s not fair.”
The moderator then asked Walker, “College tuition has skyrocketed 175% over the past 20 years. What will you do to stimy the cost of higher education going forward?”
Walker replied, “First of all, what you should do, is get rid of federal funding for any college that raises their costs.” “It’s interesting to me that folks who have been crying about the student debt relief haven’t said anything about mutli-billionaire corporate entities who have gotten PPP loans. I wonder why Mr. Walker is not offended by that.”
“He got a PPP loan as well,” said Walker. “Your church got one, senator.”
The moderators then moved on to the topic of a federal minimum wage, asking both candidates if they support a federal minimum wage by a show of hands. After neither candidate raised his hand, the moderator asked Walker, “Why not? And what would you do to help struggling Georgians?”
“Right now I think you have to work with different corporations and see just where they can pay,” explained Walker.
Walker took issue with the idea of requiring small businesses to pay their employees more than they can afford.
“There’s some companies right now -- and he should know this after getting the all-star game moved out of Atlanta -- they destroyed a lot of small businesses, so those small businesses couldn’t do $15, $20 an hour,” said Walker. “So they have to pay what they are capable of paying. So to mandate a federal minimum fee that they have to pay for an hourly wage? No, I couldn’t approve that.”
The moderator then posed the same question to Senator Warnock.
Warnock said “workers deserve to participate in the prosperity that they are creating for others,” as well as deserve a “livable wage” and “benefits.” Warnock made clear his willingness to “work with folks in the corporate community as well as the labor community,” to figure out how to meet these needs.
While neither candidate expressed support for a federal minimum wage, Warnock and Walker offered different perspectives on helping workers and small business owners.