If Congress passes a bill forgiving $10,000 of student loan debt Biden will sign it-- albeit grudgingly. The House is likely to pass something better-- especially if Gary Chambers, Jr (LA), Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (NM) and Nina Turner (OH) are elected in special elections coming up very rapidly. But unless Bernie can get it into one of the two reconciliation bills-- and he will try-- student debt forgiveness will be filibustered by conservatives and will never reach Biden's desk. And he says he will not do it by executive order.
There is no senator or ex-senator more responsible for the explosion of student debt than... Joe Biden, whose predatory bankruptcy bill was aimed directly at students. He has a moral obligation to go the extra mile. But he refuses. "I do think in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, No. 1. And No. 2, I'm prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not [$50,000]," but not through an executive order, only if Congress passes it. So... it's all up to Bernie. And believe me, when the Republicans are whining about "cancel culture," they may not mention cancelling student debt, but that is exactly the kind of issue at the base of their nonsensical caterwauling.
Biden was on CNN making conservative arguments for not doing anything about solving the crisis. The White House should keep him caged up, where his inner-conservative won't keep breaking out in public. "I will not make that happen," Biden said after a member of the audience said his proposal to cancel $10,000 per borrower doesn't go far enough.
AOC, expressing sentiments shared by the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party-- a wing Biden avoided for his whole long Senate career of kissing up to far right monsters like Strom Thurmond (SC), John Stennis MS), Jesse Helms (NC), Jim Eastland (MS) and Herman Talmadge (GA), did not hesitate to critique Biden's student loan position.
Do you wonder what kind of a U.S. Senator Erica Smith is going to be? A LOT different from any recent North Carolina senators, that's for sure. "Debt cancelation," she told me this morning, "is an issue of economic opportunity and it is an issue of racial justice and the lack of action so far is inexcusable. We cannot cancel just 10k of student debt. We cannot cancel just public college student debt. We need to cancel all student debt-- and President Biden can cancel up to 50k through executive action. Canceling student debt is good policy and good politics. If this was Wall street debt, the government would have cancelled it years ago. Working Americans, middle class Americans need relief and support and this is an easy way to get it to them."
Adam Christensen ran for Congress last cycle on a platform that included aggressive student debt forgiveness. This morning he told me that ever since he was a kid he's noticed that "there are two kinds of people:
1- Something bad happened to me, therefore you should go through it also because if you don’t that’s not fair. And you should be careful about helping anyone not go through it because you might accidentally aid someone who didn’t need your help.
2- Something bad happened to me, therefore I am going to do whatever I can to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
"The thinking of number 1 explains so much about the kind of policies and systems the U.S. has. With student debt, you have a predatory industry, that is $1.7 Trillion, and never should have existed in the first place that has prevented entire generations from starting families and owning a home. The US gov owns 92% of the student loan debt (much of which is held by people over the age of 45) and could fix this issue overnight with an executive order. It is a bubble that is going to burst. The only way to make sure we never get back to this place is to forgive all student (no means testing), and make college tuition free for everyone who wants to attend. Instead of treating people like commodities, treat them like investments. Because investing in education is one of the highest return on investments a county can make. We can’t be afraid to help 95% of people just because we might also inadvertently help 5% who don’t need it. Hesitating with aid when faced with a 95% | 5% choice is selfish, inefficient and immoral. Biden should erase all debt immediately. No more hesitating. No more putting it off. No more games."
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) doesn't agree with Biden's reticence on this anymore than Christensen does. "Today," she wrote in an e-mail, "the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis is worsening economic inequality, preventing wealth building, and stifling the dreams of millions of Americans. President Biden has the power to cancel billions in student loan debt, providing much-needed relief to individuals and families across the country. Cancelling student loan debt is not only an issue of economic and racial justice, but also a critical step toward jumpstarting our economy. Today, 85% of Black students are borrowers-- due to policies like redlining which prevented Black families from building generational wealth-- and Black borrowers are five times more likely to default on their loans than their white peers. Cancelling student debt will help to close this gap and ensure an equitable recovery from COVID-19. And cancelling debt is just one piece of the puzzle. We’re going to keep working on policies to fix our broken borrowing system, like cracking down on predatory lending and passing the CREDIT Act to protect consumers from unfair credit reporting practices and make it easier to recover credit after defaulting."
Ally Dalsimer is a current congressional candidate, running in northern Virginia on a very progressive platform against a very mediocre, centrist Democrat. This morning she told that "The current burden on recent (and often not-so-recent) grads to pay back student loans is enormous! The average graduate owes ~$30,000 and, with wages steadily declining in terms of real dollar value, the likelihood of being able to pay it back becomes more and more difficult to achieve. Basic economics tells us that if we give funds (or provide debt relief) to those who are struggling, they are more likely to buy a car or home or go on vacation, or even just eat out more often (i.e., live the American Dream). While my opponent supports forgiving loans for public service personnel only and only after they've made 120 'qualifying monthly payments' provided they still work full time for a 'qualifying employer,' I think everyone should be able to live the American Dream, not only those who work in the service sector and certainly not only after they've made 10 years of payments! That's absurd. When I finished graduate school, I owed $27,000. It took years to pay it off, but I was lucky because the 2000s economy was relatively strong. Now, in 2021, we have pandemic-induced hardships that this country hasn't seen in a decades. We need to help people, just like we help foreign nations, by giving debt relief. Corporate Dems, like Gerry Connolly, might want only a portion of Americans to get an education, but he is SUPPOSED to represent everyone-- not just public servants. Everyone deserves an education. Everyone deserves debt relief. Everyone should be represented by those they send to Congress!
Blue America's newest endorsed candidate-- we haven't even announced it yet-- is Christine Olivo in south Florida. She's a strong progressive running for a seat occupied by a garden variety Democrat. Christine just told me that her opponent, Frederica Wilson, "has proposed lowering student debt to help students 'responsibly repay their loans.' However, the responsible thing to do would be for our government to recognize the incredible contribution our graduates contribute to the economy. The nurses that risk their lives everyday to save Covid patients deserve to be student debt free. The teachers that risk their lives everyday to educate our children deserve to be student debt free. The people facing eviction and struggling to provide for their families deserve to be student debt free. This is not the time to back track or play it safe. We need bold policies that can revitalize the spirit of our country. We must cancel student debt." (You can welcome Christine to the Blue America family by clicking on the 2022 congressional thermometer above and tossing in $10 or $20 bucks to her campaign... if you want to.)
Shervin Aazami is also running for a seat occupied by a garden variety do-nothing Dem. Aazami has very strong feelings on this topic. "Americans," he just told me moments ago, "owe a whopping $1.7 trillion in student loan debt-- in fact, one in five households nationwide are burdened by it. President Biden must cancel student loan debt-- all of it. Every last dime. Congress gave the President the authority to cancel all student debt under the Higher Education act of 1965. Any claim that President Biden can only cancel 'up to $10,000' or some other arbitrary amount is just false. This isn't a question of policy, because the necessary policy is already in place. It's a question of political will. At its core, canceling student debt is about closing the widening racial wealth gap and helping lift millions of people out of poverty. Nearly 87% of Black students take out a federal student loan to afford paying for college, compared to 59% of white students. Nevertheless, white borrowers are able to pay down their student loan debt at a rate 2.5 times faster than Black borrowers. These facts reaffirm how racial and economic justice work hand in glove. This is an issue of institutional racism. We fund cops in schools instead of counselors and thus perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline for students of color, and for those Black and brown students that do get to college, they carry 85% more education debt than their white counterparts after they graduate. There are too many stories of low-income Black and brown youth who can't afford to purchase a home, start a business, save for retirement, or start a family because of mounting student loan debt. We fix this problem by cancelling all student loan debt, and making public colleges and universities tuition-free-- the other piece of this puzzle. We have to remember that the cost burden of college is growing 8x faster than working people's wages, and so truly solving this problem requires us to think holistically and act comprehensively.
"My opponent, Representative Brad Sherman, has been unsurprisingly silent on the topic of cancelling student debt, I imagine because his Wall Street corporate backers don't want to lose billions profiting off the interest debt of 44 million people. In fact, when you go on Rep. Sherman's website, the last time he even commented on anything related to education was five years ago. But Rep. Sherman doesn't get to decide-- it's our constituents and community members that do. Their voices are the ones fueling my campaign to oust him, and their voices always come first. Working people are demanding that the federal government cancel student debt for all-- I proudly stand and advocate alongside them in this fight. We deserve a congressperson that will too-- and that's a big reason why I am running to represent my hometown San Fernando Valley (CA-30)."