Senator Ted Cruz got roasted online this week for labeling some people who would benefit from President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan as lazy coffee shop workers who made poor educational choices.
“If you are that slacker barista who wasted seven years in college studying completely useless things, now has loans, and can’t get a job, Joe Biden just gave you 20 grand,” Cruz said on Friday during a segment on his podcast, “Verdict With Ted Cruz.”
“Maybe you weren’t gonna vote in November and suddenly you just got 20 grand,” the Texas Republican added.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says there’s a “real risk” Biden forgiving some student loan debt will help Democrats in the 2022 midterms:— The Recount (@therecount) August 26, 2022
“If you are that slacker barista who wasted seven years in college … if you can get off the bong for a minute … it could drive up turnout.” pic.twitter.com/COjbho5tD9
Cruz said the Biden administration’s plan, which would provide up to $20,000 in debt relief, could be a strategic move to boost Democratic prospects ahead of the midterms. He said it could increase turnout among young people if they could manage to “get off the bong for a minute.”
“There is a real risk,” he said.
His remarks set off a firestorm online over the weekend, with blowback coming from service industry workers and members of Congress alike. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has called for all student loans to be forgiven, was quick to defend working-class people, tweeting a video that included Cruz’s remarks and highlighted the so-called “slackers” he targeted.
“Senator Cruz, let me introduce to you a group of nurses and working-class Americans who, in many cases, are working two jobs and over 40 hours a week just to pay off their student debt and pay for the basic necessities of life,” Sanders said. “No, they are not slackers. They deserve relief.”
Senator Cruz, let me introduce to you a group of nurses and working class Americans who, in many cases, are working two jobs and over 40 hours a week just to pay off their student debt and pay for the basic necessities of life. No, they are not slackers. They deserve relief. pic.twitter.com/vhX3KX4U9O— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 27, 2022
Apparently myself, a public school teacher who joined the Peace Corps out of college, and currently with over 20k in student loans after graduating in 2009, is a slacker according to @tedcruz. Good to know— Chris Williamson (@TheJediTeacher) August 26, 2022
People who noted that they would fall under Cruz’s definition of “slacker” also took umbrage, saying they doubted he would be able to handle a barista’s daily workload.
“Being a waiter was my first job. It was also my most important job. The quick-thinking, prioritization, and people skills I learned defined my career,” tweeted Ahmed Baba, the co-founder and president of Rantt Media. “Food service workers are the biggest hustlers you will ever meet. Only a privileged out of touch fool would call them slackers.”
Cruz, who attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School, was also chided by a public school teacher who said he joined the Peace Corps after graduating college and is now saddled with debt; an army veteran who went on to become an educator; and a teenager working at McDonald’s to support “a family of 13.”
Even politicians from outside the country took a swipe at Cruz’s commentary.
Peter Julian, a Canadian member of Parliament, said his opinion of what constitutes a “slacker” is someone who “flies off to #Cancun when his voters are surviving with no heat or power in middle of winter” — a dig at Cruz’s family vacation last February during a power crisis in Texas.
“Have you ever seen how hard #Baristas work? If you worked as hard as they do, you would say more intelligent things,” Julian tweeted.
See more reactions below:
Republicans have student debt.— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) August 27, 2022
Republicans have medical debt.
Republican elected officials and pundits *really* despise their base.
This isn’t partisan, there is a class divide in this nation and it’s time that the working class demands better from the ruling class. https://t.co/rIQEbOyypl
If anyone is demonstration of a wasted education it’s you, Senator.— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) August 27, 2022
Were there no ethics classes at Harvard? https://t.co/zlFyZHaE9m
Why do Republicans think that everyone who doesn’t have a lot of money or have gotten some bad breaks are “slackers?” And why do some of those “slackers” vote for them? And why is being a barista dishonorable? https://t.co/YFkBz3tc0h— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) August 27, 2022
interesting thing about the past week is just the casual contempt for service workers coming from republican politicians https://t.co/LeqzzOoUAv— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) August 28, 2022
Why would Ted Cruz refer to coffee shop workers as “slacker baristas?” It’s another example of damaging behavior, widely accepted in our society… looking down on everyday people. Or, thinking you’re better because of salary or job function. He a loser. US Senator or not.— I am Yimi Kyrabo (@YKyrabo) August 28, 2022
I’m still amused that @tedcruz thinks a barista is a “slacker.” He wouldn’t last 30 minutes in that job before he would break down weeping. #TedCruz #coffee— David Shuster (@DavidShuster) August 28, 2022
One bong smoking slacker barista is more productive and valuable in a single shift at Starbucks than Ted Cruz has been his entire life https://t.co/KXI0IveLFu— James Ray ☭ (@MakeItRayn_) August 27, 2022
I'll take "slacker barista" over the "seditious conspiracist" and "violent insurrectionist" members of the GOP, traitor Turdward.— The Nicest Boy on this Website and App (@bikivindaloo) August 27, 2022
I would love to see Ted Cruz try to keep up as a "slacker"barista for one hour...and then be told he just made only $9 for that hour of work— Philip Gloss (@philipgloss) August 28, 2022
Working as a Barista the summer after my freshman year of college was the hardest job I have ever had. And I work in media and production. Cruz continues to be a senseless scumbag. https://t.co/6t5yniDOol— Emily Milliron (@EmMilliron) August 27, 2022
Tucker Carlson went to the elite Trinity College. Ted Cruz attended Princeton. Ron Desantis went to Yale and Harvard. Mitt Romney is also a Harvard man.— William Salyers 🌹 (@wlsalyers) August 28, 2022
It seems that, like wealth and power, when it comes to access to higher education, it's a case of, "For me, but not for thee."
Shannon Larson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.