Marco Rubio is no stranger to taking a tragedy and coming to an extremely wrong conclusion, and the latest example of this involves a bizarre way to tackle student loan debt.
The Florida senator shared a plan to help Americans besieged by billions of dollars in student loan debt that essentially amounts to a temporary pause in payments if they happen to survive an act of terror. According to The Guardian, Rubio has introduced the Terrorism Survivors Student Loan Deferment Act, which would give victims of terrorist attacks a “one-year pause” to help them “get back on their feet.”
“We should do everything in our power to help those who survive a terrorist attack to get their life back on track,” Rubio said in a statement. “Giving survivors some time to regroup by delaying their student loan payments is just common sense.”
The reaction to the proposal wasn’t nearly as positive as Rubio would have liked. That’s for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that everyone could use student loan debt relief, but the potentially life-changing legislation is instead narrowly being applied to a very small subset of people. And the description of what a “terrorist attack” is remains extremely vague in the bill.
I am trying to imagine some town hall where a young person asks Marco Rubio what he’s doing to help with their mountain of student loan debt and Rubio patiently explains how they can take a year off of payments as long as they survive a terrorism attack. https://t.co/35SnAlqARa
— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) June 10, 2021
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) June 10, 2021
The other part that irked some people is that the legislation, which apparently dates back to 2016, is a response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting from the same year that left 49 people dead and more than 50 injured. Rubio has framed the Pulse shooting not as an attack against the LGBTQ community or a sign of the urgent need for gun control in America, but as a religion-fueled terrorist attack by a fundamentalist. As The Guardian pointed out, the number of terrorist attack victims are increasing in America, but that pales in comparison to the 40 million who currently hold student loan debt. And advocates for gun control bashed the proposal on Saturday, calling it a “gimmick.”
In recent years, the number of victims killed annually in US domestic terrorism attacks has ranged from 22 to 66 people, according to data assembled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“This is nice, but if Senator Rubio were actually seriously interested in safety and giving relief to survivors, he would back commonsense gun legislation like HR 8,” Christopher Zoeller, 19, the Florida state director for March for Our Lives, a youth gun violence prevention group, said in a statement to the Guardian.
“He didn’t do it after Pulse, he didn’t do it after Parkland, and he still hasn’t done it today. We can see right through this gimmick.”
Even if the legislation is passed, it would (hopefully) help an extremely small amount of people. And make the millions of people who have not suffered through an act of terror wonder why it would take one to get help with an ever-growing American crisis.