Biden administration resists Democrats’ calls for student debt relief as deadline approaches • Missouri Independent
WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats are urging the White House to extend the freeze on student loan repayments and for the president to write off up to $ 50,000 in student debt – but so far the administration has not budged.
The deadlock is one of the most notable divisions between President Joe Biden and members of his party, who are applying intense pressure to provide more relief to borrowers as the expiration of a loan freeze approaches. pandemic era.
Stephen Graves, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Black Studies at the University of Missouri, said in an interview that black student borrowers would be the hardest hit by the end of the freeze, and he warned that could affect the student participation rate. young adults at the polls in 2022.
âA lot of black students typically end up earning undergraduate and / or majors, or doing jobs that are less likely to allow them to pay off those student loans,â he said.
At a recent press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration had not asked the Education Department to continue the hiatus on student reimbursements. student loans, which ends January 31.
Psaki said President Joe Biden supports a student debt cancellation of $ 10,000 per borrower, if passed by Congress.
“If Congress sends him a bill, he is happy to sign it,” she said. “They haven’t sent him an invoice about it yet.”
At the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, the Trump administration announced an emergency hiatus on student loan repayments. The Trump and Biden administrations both extended it. The pandemic is still ongoing and the United States has just passed 800,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
Senate Democrats are now urging Biden to use his executive privilege to write off up to $ 50,000 in student loan debt.
âThere have been questions and requests about what executive powers could be used; this has been under review, âPsaki said on Tuesday. “I have nothing to report on this at this time.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, told the Senate congressional approval was not required and Democrats lacked the voice to pass legislation that would cancel debt students.
In an equally divided Senate, Democrats would need everyone in their party to line up, along with 10 Republicans, due to current Senate obstruction rules.
âIt’s about taking a simple, sensible step to save people costs; it’s about racial equity; and it’s about giving people more opportunities to build wealth and achieve the American dream and the administration can do it itself, âsaid Schumer.
The Federal Reserve estimates that total student loan debt in the United States exceeds $ 1.75 trillion. The Ministry of Education holds around 92% of that student loan debt, which is why Democrats argue that Biden has the power to write off student debt through an executive order.
Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, along with 13 Senate Democrats, sent a letter to Biden, arguing that the country is still in a state of national emergency due to the pandemic and that the administration should extend the freeze.
“The US Department of Education (” Department “) notes that waiving interest on student loans saves borrowers an additional $ 5 billion each month,” they wrote in the letter. “This is money that is now available for shelter, food and other daily necessities to help borrowers support themselves, their families and their communities during this pandemic.”
Other Senators who have signed include Ron Wyden of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, among others.
Certain loan discounts
The Biden administration has canceled up to $ 11.5 billion in loans for nearly 600,000 borrowers.
However, this discount only applies to borrowers in specific circumstances – those who have permanent disabilities, who attended schools no longer in service Where public service workers.
At a town hall in Wisconsin in FebruaryBiden has made it clear that he does not support cancellation of up to $ 50,000 per student borrower and said he only supports a cancellation of $ 10,000 by Congress.
In one letter in Biden, the Student Borrower Protection Center – a student loan advocacy group – along with 200 organizations lobbied for immediate student debt relief.
“It is critical that your administration continues to deliver on promises made to student loan borrowers and their families before ending the pause on payments and collections, âthe letter said.
“Borrowers need immediate relief from the crushing burden of massive student loan debt, as the pandemic exacerbates financial strains for all Americans and throws particularly stark relief at existing racial disparities in wealth and levels of income. education. “
The organizations pointed out that “the burden of student debt and the costs of our failed student loan system disproportionately weigh on black and brown borrowers.”
The Brookings Institution, a left-wing think tank, reported in 2016 that on average, black students who graduated owed $ 7,400 more than white, Asian and Latino students who graduated at the same time.
Graves said black borrowers take on larger student debts, possibly more than other groups, and are struggling to repay them.
Even with the hiatus in student loan repayments over the past two years, black borrowers are unlikely to benefit as much as white borrowers, he said.
“Not having to pay those student loans over the past two years has allowed them some flexibility, of course, but unfortunately this happened during the COVID period for which there were a higher number of layoffs. and job losses and black people are most likely to work in hard jobs that do not allow them to work from home, âhe said.
He added that young voters will not be motivated to vote for Democrats if campaign promises such as student debt reform are not kept.
âYou went over there on a student loan debt forgiveness platform,â Graves said of Biden. âYou got out on the student loan cancellation platform and then of course you reneged and then lied about it and didn’t. Young people will remember these things.
In October 2020, during a town hall in Miami, Biden said that “I will eliminate your student loan debt if you come from a family (earning less than $ 125,000) and attended a public university, âaccording to Black business.
Biden later added, “I’m going to make sure everyone gets $ 10,000 in student debt.” by Biden campaign platform called for making public college tuition free for those earning less than $ 125,000 and other initiatives.
Graves added that many of the policies advocated by Democrats do not help young voters, but benefit white middle-class voters, like the expanded child tax credit and paternity leave.
âThings like the child tax credit do nothing for Young Democrats,â he said, âYoung people don’t have children. We cannot afford to have children.