It should have been a cakewalk for the presumptive Democratic nominee. You come out with a plan that would provide assistance — and potentially full forgiveness — for student loans. Then you sit back and wait for the applause from the Left, which adores government programs that absolve adults from having to take responsibility for their actions.
But for some reason, Hillary Clinton was greeted with a chorus of boss after unveiling her plan on Tuesday. The reason? It would benefit white men (aka, the mortal foes of present-day liberals).
Under the plan laid out during a campaign stop in Denver, student borrowers who provide proof they’ve started a new business can have the interest on their student loans deferred for up to three years while they work to build their business. If borrowers start up their business in an economically distressed area, they’ll also be eligible to have up to $17,500 in loans forgiven after five years. Clinton’s plan says her administration would consider expanding this loan forgiveness to early employees of new businesses as well.
Clinton said her plan was intended to encourage innovation in the U.S. economy. “It can be a lot harder [for entrepreneurs] if you’re juggling student loan payments, and that can cut into … what kind of risk you think you can take,” she said.
Some tech figures praised Clinton’s plan, with millionaire tech investor Brad Feld calling it “excellent and substantive.”
But not everybody is so happy. Bruce Wright, a reporter for the International Business Times, warned Tuesday afternoon that Clinton’s plan has a big flaw:
[Clinton’s] plan to single out budding innovators for a break does little to address the needs of many black and Latino college students who are struggling to deal with what has become a crisis of paying off funds borrowed for college education. The makeup of America’s entrepreneurs … lopsidedly skews white and male, two demographics that historically haven’t exactly been hurting for money when it comes to college.
Ben Norton at Salon harped on a similar theme, blasting Clinton’s plan because “entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly from rich families, and are heavily white and male.” He also bashed the plan on the unusual grounds that people who start companies tend to employ people:
Entrepreneurs employ people; business owners have people who work under them. Clinton’s policy will help ease the student loans of these workers’ bosses, while employees are crushed under the enormous weight of their student debt.
Wright and Norton weren’t the only people to criticize Clinton’s plan for being too generous to rich white people. Several people on Twitter slammed Clinton for the same reason.
Hillary forgiving student loan debt of tech entrepreneurs and such is her forgiving white student loan debt.
— Teddy Graham Cracker (@HausofDom) June 28, 2016
HRC's dumb plan to forgive student loans for entrepreneurs would disproportionately benefit white men who already have access to capital.
— 👻Haunting Specter👻 (@jndevereux) June 28, 2016
— Melissa Byrne (@mcbyrne) June 28, 2016
US: We need tuition free education
HILLARY: hm, what if we deferred loans to rich people so they can innovate poor neighborhoods with apps?
— chris person (dead) (@Papapishu) June 28, 2016
Notably, despite all the criticism brought against Clinton, entrepreneurs are actually not exceptionally white. According to data from the Kauffman Foundation, only 59% of entrepreneurs are white, less than their overall population percentage of about 62%. Some 22% are Hispanic (substantially above their population share of about 17%), 9% are black, and 7% are Asian.
Men are more common among entrepreneurs, but are not utterly dominant, representing about 63% of entrepreneurs. More than a quarter of new businesses are founded by immigrants.
This report, by Blake Neff, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.