While President Donald Trump touted various economic achievements during Tuesday’s State of the Union (SOTU) address—including inflating some of the numbers related to American job and wage gains under his administration—he left one shockingly high figure out.
Specifically: Trump’s 82-minute speech failed to mention the truly record-breaking $1.465 trillion that Americans face in outstanding student loan debt. Though that figure was measured in November 2018, Politico education reporter Michael Stratford noted that the pending student debt “now totals roughly $1.5 trillion.”
Among other critiques, Democratic rising star Stacey Abrams, who came up short in the Georgia governor’s race, noted that our leaders needed to “face the crippling effect of educational loans,” according to Politico’s transcript of her SOTU response.
“This White House responds timidly while first-graders practice active-shooter drills and the price of higher education grows ever steeper,” rising political star Stacey Abrams said, according to Politico’s transcript, in the official Democratic SOTU response.
Abrams, who gained national acclaim during her close, but ultimately unsuccessful, campaign in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, has personally faced the negative consequences of student debt—and wrote about her experience in a Fortune op-ed last year.
“Debt is a millstone that weighs down more than three-quarters of Americans,” she wrote. “It can determine whether we are able to run for office, to launch a business, to quit a job we hate. But it should not—and can not—be a disqualification for ambition.”
Abrams is far from the only politician to struggle with student loan debt. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who was wearing white with other Democratic Congresswomen to honor the legacy of women’s suffrage during the SOTU, faces between $15,000 and $15,000 in educational loans, CNBC reports.
Student loan debt has been cited as one of the reasons for declining homeownership and, only projected to worsen over time, economists worry that it could pose other serious financial risks.
Among other critiques, Abrams noted that “From now on, our leaders must be willing to tackle gun safety measures and face the crippling effect of educational loans, to support educators and invest what is necessary to unleash the power of America’s greatest minds.”