WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will campaign for former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in Madison next month, in an attempt to help one of her ideological allies, who was defeated by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in 2010, return to Congress.
"Ron Johnson sides with the big guys who have already made it, while Russ sides with Wisconsin students and working families," Warren argues in an email scheduled to be sent to supporters Monday afternoon, and provided in advance to The Huffington Post.
The email contrasts Feingold and Johnson's stances on higher education and student loan debt. While Feingold and Warren believe that the federal government shouldn't be able to profit from such debt, Johnson voted against Warren's legislation in 2014 that would have allowed students to refinance their loans. The Republican senator called the legislation “grossly unfair” because the bill would make up for any lost revenue by increasing taxes on wealthy households.
Unpaid student debt has doubled since 2007 to nearly $1.3 trillion. Approximately 40 million Americans have student loan debt, with the average borrower owing nearly $30,000.
Johnson, who has argued that some students take more than four years to graduate because it's too easy to get a loan, has repeatedly said he doesn't believe the federal government should be involved in student loan programs.
"Here’s the really crazy part about Ron Johnson’s education policy: Forget refinancing – if he has his way, the federal government wouldn’t help college students with loans at all," Warren's email reads. "Kids whose parents can’t afford to write a check for college would lose basic consumer protections and be at the mercy of private lenders who offer loans not at lower government interest rates, but at 8%, 10%, 12% – or even higher."
Democrats have started to talk about student loan debt much more frequently on the campaign trail, in large part because Warren has championed the issue in the Senate. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton earlier this month released her own plan to reduce the burden of student debt by taxing the wealthy.
Warren campaigned for a number of Democratic Senate candidates during the 2014 midterm elections, so her Wisconsin trip is likely to be just the first of more campaign stops to come as the election gets underway.