Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston issued a controversial statement Friday defending his opposition to student loan forgiveness measures.

“The Twitterati can keep bemoaning their privileged status and demanding handouts all they want, but as far as I’m concerned if they want free money for college, they can join the Marines and serve the country like I, and so many others, have in the past and many more will in the future,” Golden said in a comment published on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Golden served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Education aid from his military service helped the Leeds native attend Bates College in Lewiston.

“If they want a career and hard skills without college debt, they should join a union and enter an apprenticeship,” Golden said.

“But if they choose to attend college, they can pay back their loans just like working-class people pay back home mortgages, car loans, and many other expenses that people choose to take out loans for,” the three-term incumbent from Maine’s 2nd District said.

Golden issued the statement in response to a story in the Maine Beacon, a left-leaning news site, that pointed out that the Blue Dog Coalition co-chaired by Golden received political contributions from both Sallie Mae’s corporate PAC and Career Education Colleges and Universities, a lobby group for for-profit colleges. Both entities benefit from student loan payments.


Golden said he stands by his vote in the U.S. House against student debt relief for “people who freely chose to attend college. They were privileged to have the opportunity, and many left college well-situated to make six-figure salaries for life.”

Golden’s strongly worded statement drew sharp criticism online.

Amy Fried, a political science professor at the University of Maine, called Golden’s rhetoric “divisive and nasty.”

In a post on X, Fried said there is “a real debate to be had about helping people go to and graduate college and if there are benefits to be gleaned by the whole society,” but the lawmaker’s “just awful” statement had “done nothing to contribute to that.”

Tiffany Bond, an independent who twice ran against Golden, questioned Golden’s statement as well.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Jared?” she asked on X. “Rural Maine will have no dentists, doctors, lawyers, teachers or anyone requiring a professional education. You don’t understand rural Maine.”

The Maine People’s Alliance commented, “Really? I’m not sure the ‘Twitterati’ are the ones not understanding Maine right now.”

Golden was one of two Democrats in the House to join the Republican majority in May in voting for a measure to block President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan. He called the president’s plan “out of touch” when it was first announced last summer.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: