Biden’s Student Loan Debt Cancellation Problem
Lawmakers in his party continue to bring the issue to the fore, urging the president to forgive $50,000 for each of the 43 million federal borrowers. — something he’s shot several times, including on Thursday.
But these measures have done little to ease the political pressure.
“Borrowers don’t just need their debts suspended; they need them erased,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.
“In a jiffy, President Biden could breathe new life into millions upon millions of student borrowers,” the New York Democrat added.
“I’m looking at facing debt reduction. I’m not looking at $50,000 debt reduction,” Biden said at the White House after unveiling new funding for Ukraine.
“But I’m looking closely at whether or not there will be further debt forgiveness, and I’ll have an answer on that within the next two weeks.”
Later Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that “no process has yet been concluded internally.”
There are several reasons why Biden may resist the pull of his party’s left wing.
Legal authority is unclear
Biden made it clear during his presidential campaign, after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, that he supported partial cancellation of federal student debt.
His campaign proposal called for the immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 in student debt per person in response to the pandemic, as well as the cancellation of all federal debt related to undergraduate college tuition. two- and four-year public college and university cycle for borrowers earning up to $125,000 per year.
But he also urged Congress to take action to cancel the debt, rather than saying he could use executive power to do so.
It is not entirely clear that the president’s executive power allows him to largely erase student debt. Last year, Biden asked attorneys for the Departments of Education and Justice to assess whether he, in fact, had the authority to write off federal student loan debt broadly. The administration did not disclose those findings.
Inflation is a key issue for voters
Millions of people could be spending the money — about $4 billion a month, according to one estimate — on things other than their monthly student loan payments. And people may be more likely to make big purchases, like cars or houses, if they no longer have student debt hanging over them.
“It’s not gigantic,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
“In a normal inflation environment, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But we’re in a very precarious situation right now and risk inflation spiraling out of control,” he added.
Debt cancellation could benefit many wealthy
Biden has repeatedly said he is committed to ensuring wealthy Americans pay their fair share and has offered to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Canceling student debt could run counter to this policy objective.
A more targeted approach, such as canceling the debt of borrowers who earn less than a certain income threshold or canceling loans borrowed only for undergraduate degrees, could help ensure that a greater proportion of benefits go to Americans who need them most.
“If you don’t fix the system, these issues will reoccur and we’ll be back in the same crisis we’re in now,” Looney said.
PSAKI said on Thursday that the president continues to consider some type of loan forgiveness resource test.
“He’s explained in the past that he doesn’t think millionaires or billionaires should benefit – or even the highest earners – so it’s definitely something he would consider,” he said. she stated.
To date, Biden’s actions have provided more than $17 billion in targeted student debt relief to 725,000 borrowers. About $3.2 billion of this was waived for borrowers who had been defrauded by their for-profit colleges.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.