Biden on Student Loan Forgiveness: “I will not make that happen”

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

In spite of a worsening economic crisis thanks to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden once again refused to provide relief for 43 million Americans by canceling $50,000 in federally-held student loan debt via executive order.

“I will not make that happen,” Biden said at a CNN town hall on Tuesday, noting that forgiving that debt would cost the country around $1 trillion. Biden argued that money is better spent “to provide for early education for young children who come from disadvantaged circumstances.” In a joint statement, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer noted that both Presidents Obama and Trump used executive authority to cancel student loan debt, which is disproportionately held by Black and Brown Americans.

“Canceling $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help close the racial wealth gap, benefit 40% of borrowers who do not have a college degree and help stimulate the economy. It’s time to act. We will keep fighting,” the senators said.

Infographic: Student Loan Debt Soars Since 2003 | Statista

Student loan debt has skyrocketed 350 percent over the last 17 years – nearly 10 times more than the increases in auto loans and mortgage debt. Educational budget cuts at the state level have forced many public four-year universities and colleges to increase their tuition rates. According to the College Board, tuition costs in some states have increased as much as 62 percent over the last 10 years. In the last 40 years, the average cost of college has increased by over 150 percent.


Infographic courtesy of Value Penguin

Biden has insisted that one reason he refuses to forgive student loan debt is because it would cause him to “forgive the debt, billions of dollars of debt, for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn.” However, that argument doesn’t hold water with progressive Democrats.

“1. Who cares what school someone went to? Entire generations of working class kids were encouraged to go into more debt under the guise of elitism. This is wrong,” tweeted Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “Nowhere does it say we must trade-off early childhood education for student loan forgiveness. We can have both.”

While he is not comfortable forgiving $50,000 Biden has stated that he might be open to canceling up to $10,000 per borrower.

“I understand the impact of the debt and it can be debilitating,” Biden said. “But I do think that in this moment of economic pain and strain, that we should be eliminating interest on the debts… I’m prepared to write off $10,000 but not [$50,000].”

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