Democrats step up pressure on Biden to cancel student loan
Democrats are pushing again President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden Campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those defying Jan 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE to act on the cancellation of student loans, stepping up pressure on the White House to address the issue even as it struggles to rally a divided party around the president’s agenda.
“Today would be a big day for President Biden and Vice President Harris of #CancelStudentDebt,” Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHispanic organizations call for Latin American climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on free to vote to win law 2022: go big for reconciliation and invest in Latinx voters MORE (DN.Y.) tweeted Thursday. Schumer regularly hits the White House on the issue on Twitter.
representing Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalWarren and Jayapal Call for Responses on Reported Judicial Ethics Breaches Left Doubles Aggressive Strategy Democrats Call on White House to Explore Sharing Moderna Technology Abroad MORE (D-Wash.), The chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, similarly tweeted Thursday: “Student debt relief is good for people and good for the economy. @POTUS can and should ease the student debt burden of 43 million Americans. “
Progressives want Biden to write off up to $ 50,000 in federally held student debt per borrower. This would wipe out all federal student debt for about 80 percent of the roughly 44 million Americans who collectively owe the federal government more than $ 1.5 trillion.
While Biden has ruled out canceling this debt through executive action, he has opened the door to a smaller debt cancellation plan with income requirements. He has already expressed his willingness to forgive up to $ 10,000 per borrower, which would cover about 40% of federal student borrowers.
The widespread forgiveness of student loans quickly gained support from Democratic lawmakers amid the coronavirus pandemic. While progressives have long supported an ambitious level of forgiveness as a way to close the racial wealth gap, party leaders such as Schumer have embraced the idea since Biden’s election.
Debt relief advocates argue the issue could also help Democrats midway through next year.
“I think moderates who run in tough races, it will make a difference to them whether the student debt is canceled or not,” said Thomas Gokey, organizer and co-founder of Debt Collective.
Polls suggest, however, that most voters are not in favor of canceling loans for all student borrowers.
Only 27% of respondents to a March poll conducted by Grinnell College supported canceling student loans “for all borrowers,” including only 41% of those who voted for Biden in 2020. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they would support forgiveness “only for those in need,” including 48% of Biden voters.
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSanders and Manchin step up fight against spending bill .5T Sanders blames media for Americans who don’t know details of Biden’s spending plan Photos of the week: climate protests, Blue Origin and a koala MORE (D-Calif.) Expressed doubts about Biden’s power to cancel student loans himself, and the political wisdom to do so.
“Suppose your … child decides that at this point he doesn’t want to go to college, but you pay taxes to forgive someone else’s obligations.” You might not be happy about this, ”Pelosi told reporters in July.
The Biden administration has already written off about $ 9 billion in student loans held either by borrowers who were swindled by for-profit colleges or by those who qualified for pre-existing but dysfunctional forgiveness programs.
The Education Department announced this week that it would temporarily allow student borrowers to claim credit on all federal loan and repayment programs for forgiveness, saying the action would “restore the promise” of the government. public service loan forgiveness program.
The program cancels student loans for people who worked in the qualifying public service for 10 years and made 10 years of federal loan payments, but left out hundreds of thousands of borrowers who qualified for the program. under previous administrations.
Gokey rejected the program, saying it would only benefit 20,000 people.
“So far the only thing the White House has done has been the smallest, the smallest they wiggled a finger, in this incredibly complicated public service loan waiver,” he said. .
The Department of Education also brought in Richard Cordray, former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to lead the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), which oversees companies hired to collect student loan payments. . Cordray recently announced the creation of a special enforcement office within the FSA, modeled on the aggressive approach taken by the CFPB to student loan services that allegedly hurt borrowers.
The double threat of Cordray and the new CFPB director Rohit ChopraRohit Chopra Protecting consumers also requires protecting and inciting whistleblowers. likely prompted Navient to exit the student loan market after years of federal and state lawsuits, said Brandon Barford, partner at research firm Beacon Policy Advisors. Even so, surveys of other companies could take months or years to show results to borrowers.
An administration official told The Hill that more measures are on the way.
“Over the next few months, we will unveil similar regulatory improvements to income-based repayment, defending borrowers against repayment, and closed school landfills, among others. We are also reshaping the loan management environment to better focus on results and borrower protections. These steps take time, but we are working to provide a better and fairer student loan system for borrowers, ”said the official.
But Barford has expressed doubts that a blanket erasure is still in Biden’s plans.
“If they were to cancel the loan at any level unilaterally, I think they would have done it already,” he said.
The administration also announced in August that it would no longer force people classified as totally and permanently disabled by the Social Security Administration to apply for the cancellation of their federal student loans.
“There has been a lot of pressure from the White House to show all the debt they are canceling,” said Natalia Abrams, president and founder of the Student Debt Crisis Center. “We have seen small amounts of debt being canceled. It’s really important, it should happen, but a lot of it should have happened in previous administrations. “
The lawyers were energized by a letter Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats worried as long-time candidates pull out money, warning Grim medium-term outlook darkens bitter Democratic battle Ilhan Omar at Biden: “Keep your promise to cancel student debt” MORE (Minn.) Led last week with 19 other Democrats urging the administration to release a memo Biden requested from the Education Department in April to determine his power to write off student debt.
Lawyers argue that Biden has the power to write off student loan debt under the Higher Education Act of 1965, which gave the Secretary of Education the power to support student loans.
“The reason you’re in debt today is because Joe Biden woke up and made an active decision to keep you in debt,” Gokey replied. “We have to force him, he’s not going to do it on his own.”