Biden can blame neither Manchin nor Sinema nor the regular handful of reactionary Blue Dogs and New Dems in the House for his abysmal failure to cancel student debt. We're talking about an executive order here, one he has refused to promulgate. Cancelling student debt is the progressive position. Biden's is cancelling a measly $10,000. Corporate Dems, knowing $10,000 is a joke, want to been seen fighting for more. So Wall Street's candidate for Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jeffries has mumbling something about $20 or $30,000. The Progressive Caucus, which Jeffries pretends to be a member of, seems split between the ones following the progressive position (cancelation) and the ones who have already negotiated that down to $50,000 among themselves, guaranteeing that the eventual compromise will be less than $50,000... because they never fucking learn.
$10,000 was a great deal of money when Biden was getting started after graduating from law school, the equivalent of $78,776.29 in today's money. On some level that still may be Biden's world. But it isn't the world the last few decades of students have graduated from college in.
The candidates endorsed by Blue America for House races this cycle seem tone unanimous in their position-- and their passion: cancellation. Jason Call in northwest Washington is running for a seat held by corrupt reactionary Rick Larsen told me this afternoon that he supports "the cancellation of ALL student debt, both publicly and privately held (people with privately held debt-- that is, not held by the federal government-- are often left out of the conversation.) I support this cancellation not only because of the current burden carried by 43 million people, but also because the debt burden should never have existed in the first place. Much of the developed world provides free public college to students as an investment in the greater good. Some countries even pay students to go to college. But if there's one thing that we know about the status quo in American-- we do not invest in the greater good, and we do not try to make upward mobility more accessible to the poor and working classes. It's time to fully subsidize higher education in America. If we can spend a trillion dollars every year on the military industrial complex, we can surely spend on educating our people so they don't spend the next thirty years saddled with debt."
Here in L.A., Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee, the progressive contender in the seat Karen Bass left is just as adamant: "We must cancel 100% of student debt. Nothing less. Doing so will have a positive effect on exponentially more people than any of the tax cuts doled out for the rich and ultra wealthy in the last 20 years. Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and even Baby boomers continue to carry debt for education completed in a different world while wealthy college dropouts champion hard work (even though they rely on parental or generational wealth to succeed). This is unjust. We can do better. Cancelling all student is the largest and most comprehensive stimulus the government can provide. It's long past time."
Also in L.A., a San Fernando Valley/West Side candidate, Shervin Aazami has been very vocal about this issue from the day he launched his campaign. "Cancel every penny of student debt. If we can pause all student loan payments for over two years without any economic fallout, what's the argument for only cancelling a portion of the debt or none at all? Especially when less debt translates to more financial security, which is exactly what millions of struggling Americans need right now. I strongly support student debt cancellation in tandem with making colleges/universities tuition-free so that 1) we aren't just cancelling debt into perpetuity while tuition costs keep increasing; and 2) we're making higher education as accessible as possible."
Ruth Luevanos, a school teacher and a city councilwoman, in the suburbs in northern L.A. County told me that "based soley on issues of equity alone I say cancel every penny of student debt. If we can bail out corporations and banks with taxpayer money then we can certainly cancel debt for the every day American who is facing stagnant wages and record inflation. This is one of the quickest ways to help the economy for every sector. With student debt cancellation people will be able to buy groceries, pay bills, buy cars, buy homes, and finally be free from lifelong debt for getting an education that is now necessary for so many jobs in this country."
Sergio Alcubilla is the progressive taking on Blue Dog Ed Case in Hawaii. He said that "It's time we look at the student loan crisis for what it is-- predatory lending by our own government against students, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. Over 43 million Americans owe student loan debt in some form, mostly to the federal government. We need to seriously look at the adverse impact our broken student loan system has put on so many Americans, starting by cancelling all federal student loans. Instead of more tax breaks for the rich and big business, let's keep money in the pockets of everyday Americans."
Do you want real progressives in Congress, fighters who don't fold when Pelosi or Biden barks, pushing the debate in a more working class-oriented position? If so please consider contributing to the candidates above-- right here. All of them are running grassroots campaigns and all have explicitly sworn off corporate pac and lobbyist money.
Santa Claus, the mayor pro-tem of North Pole, Alaska, a suburb of Fairbanks, is a democratic socialist and a candidate for Alaska's open at-large congressional state. He doesn't accept any campaign contributions. When I asked him how he feels about the student debt crisis, he quoted Bernie and suggested we "Cancel all student loan debt for the some 45 million Americans who owe about $1.6 trillion and place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward at 1.88 percent. We have failed a generation of our young people. What Bernie believes is that the American people deserve freedom-- true freedom. You are not truly free when you graduate college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt. You are not truly free when you cannot pursue your dream of becoming a teacher, environmentalist, journalist or nurse because you cannot make enough money to cover your monthly student loan payments. And you are not truly free when the vast majority of good-paying jobs require a degree that requires taking out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to obtain."
Claus is also enthusiastic about passing the "College for All Act to provide at least $48 billion per year to eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs. Everyone deserves the right to a good higher education if they choose to pursue it, no matter their income."