Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases Democratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races Most Senate Republicans don't want to see Trump run again MORE (R-Wis.) argued that students are taking longer than four years to graduate because it's too easy to get student loans and "college is a lot of fun" in a recent event in the state.
Johnson, who's one of the most vulnerable GOP senators next year, was discussing the rising cost of college education with constituents in Verona last Saturday when he argued that federal student loan programs had made it too easy for students to take on big loads of debt.
"It's pretty easy to get a federal loan, college is fun," he said with a laugh.
Johnson continued on to say that he'd worked and paid his way through school so he felt a need to get out as quickly as possible with as little debt as possible. He then said students getting loans takes away the incentive to try to graduate on time with a degree that could help them get a job, not mentioning the possibility that some may be also working their way through college.
"Today, there are different studies on this but somewhere between five and a half to six years is the average length of time it takes somebody to get a four-year degree. Why is that? I'd argue, well, loans are actually pretty easy to get and college is a lot of fun. All three of my kids went to Madison and I guarantee you, they had a really good time, particularly that first year of college," he said.
Johnson's comments came as part of a broader critique of federal and state governments subsidizing college education and student loans.
"A lot of government's well-intentioned programs actually have a very negative unintended consequence... The federal government got involved the way it always gets involved, it threw money at the problem," he said. "We've thrown, given hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money to people we want to have a college education, but we've also enticed our children by subsidizing loans, we've enticed them to incur about $1.3 trillion in debt."
Johnson continued on to argue that students think that "It's kind of free money, young people don't necessarily understand finance."
The event was recorded by a tracker from Democratic firm American Bridge and can be seen here.
Johnson's office didn't respond to a request for comment.