When Delaware Valley Democrat Ben Kamens celebrated his taxpayer-funded student loan bailout on social media, the Democratic communications professional meant it as a paean of praise for President Joe Biden. Instead, he sparked a social media firestorm that led to more than 23 million views and thousands of snark-filled posts denouncing Kamens, a Lower Merion High grad, as a symbol of the Democrats’ out-of-touch privilege.

Kamens used his X (formerly known as Twitter) account to post a letter from his student loan company reading “Congratulations! The Biden-Harris Administration has forgiven your federal student loan(s) listed below with Nelnet in full.”

“This is why elections matter,” Kamens posted. “Thanks, Joe Biden!”

His debt was listed at $8,250. Kamens later posted that his job allowed him to pay it down ahead of schedule with a monthly payment of $400. “I’m happy to let the government cancel it,” he said.

Within hours he was a social media phenomenon.

“No doubt the working people of America are thrilled to step in because…you couldn’t be bothered to pay off $8,250 in principal in 14 years—which is $589/year,” wrote National Review editor-in-chief Charles C.W. Cooke.

“‘The government’ didn’t pay for that – *I* did, after already paying off my own loans of course, b/c contracts and character matter,” posted Dr. E.J. Antoni, a Heritage Foundation economist. “Or at least they used to…”

Kamens earned a Bachelor of Arts from Temple University. His LinkedIn lists Penn State University as a school that he attended, although it appears that he didn’t earn a degree there.

He’s done well since graduating from Temple.

Kamens worked for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, according to his Facebook page. He was a Democratic National Convention Committee staff member in 2016 and 2020, too.

Kamens’ X profile said he serves in “Comms on Capitol Hill.”

What it doesn’t say is that he’s been communications director for Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) since 2023.

“According to LegiStorm, this staffer is making $91k/year, not including annual bonuses,” wrote Maggie Howell, who worked for former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “I cannot wrap my head around how he qualifies for Biden’s program.”

“Why are we paying off his loans when he is obviously well and able?”

“Imagine working in comms and tweeting this with the address of a half-a-million-dollar house,” added journalist Bethany Mandel. “It’s a Donald Trump campaign ad.”

Mandel was partially right. The Bucks County house at the mailing address that Kamens included in his post is estimated to be worth almost $600,000, not half a million.

Critics of the student loan bailouts backed by Biden and most congressional Democrats say Kamens is a perfect example of why the policy is wrong.

First, data consistently show college graduates have higher incomes and are wealthier on average than their non-college-graduate peers. They’ve also enjoyed higher employment rates and work in higher-status jobs. Spending a combined $870 billion to $1.4 trillion — the total cost of all of Biden’s student debt bailout proposals, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — to benefit these disproportionately affluent, White citizens makes little economic sense, critics say.

Second, there is the “moral hazard” question. What happens when you reward people for not paying their bills and use the money of their neighbors who paid theirs to cover the costs? What will the next generation of students do when they see how it turned out for borrowers like Kamen?

And finally there’s what Cooke calls the political “classism” of Biden’s policy.

“Why does Biden not want to do the same thing for loans on trucks owned by plumbers? Why not for credit cards or auto payments or mom-and-pop credit lines? The answer, I’m afraid to say, is disgustingly classist: Because Joe Biden and his party believe that college students are better than everyone else.

“Because Joe Biden and his party believe that college students are of a finer cut. Because Joe Biden and his party prefer college students to you, and they think that those students ought to be rewarded for that by being handed enormous gobs of your money.”

Kamens could be the poster child for this view of student debt bailouts.

Before joining Kaptur’s office, he had a brief spell with the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a group that seeks to limit the proliferation of nuclear devices.

Kamens is known in Democratic circles on Capitol Hill.

He served in a variety of positions with Democratic leaders including former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Congressmen Sean Patrick Maloney and Andy Kim from 2019 to 2021. He was then-Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s press secretary and digital director from September 2021 to August 2022.

Kamens’ current and former bosses are longtime supporters of student loan forgiveness.

In fact, Kamens was Garcia’s press secretary when Garcia called for the cancellation of student loan debt in December 2021 and January 2022.

“Biden is using taxpayer money in an unconstitutional scheme to pay off allies of his own party who are making over $200,000 a year,” conservative commentator Stephen L. Miller, host of the VS Media podcast, told DVJournal. “People should take note of this.”

A person at Kaptur’s office who said his name was ‘John’ after a long pause told DVJournal to email Kamens for a comment. Kamens did not answer the email.

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