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Ted Cruz blasted after calling those who would benefit from student loan relief ‘slacker’ baristas

“This is what a leading Republican thinks of young ‘slacker’ Americans who took out loans to go to college,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke during a news conference at the US Capitol on May 04, 2022 in Washington, D.C.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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.

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.”

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.

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Shannon Larson can be reached at Follow her @shannonlarson98.