Biden signals he’s ready to cancel student loans

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President Biden gave strong indications during a private meeting with House Democrats this week that his administration is poised to take significant steps to provide student loan relief in the coming months, a move that would likely include writing off potentially tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

Borrowers are currently enjoying a moratorium on student loan repayments until August 31, a pandemic-induced pause that began under the Trump administration. The White House has come under considerable pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to write off the liability outright.

At the same time, Biden and others have publicly expressed skepticism about the political wisdom and merits of the idea of ​​burdening taxpayers’ debts with students who choose to attend expensive private universities, while than those who attended cheaper schools or decided to drop out of college. absolutely would not get any benefit.

During a lengthy meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday, Biden repeatedly signaled that he was prepared to not only extend the current moratorium, but potentially issue executive actions completely canceling some of the debt, according to two members present and two assistants informed of the content of the meeting.

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-California) initially raised the issue with Biden during the meeting at the White House. In an interview, Cardenas said he first asked the president to extend the moratorium beyond the August 31 expiration date, and Biden replied with a smile: “Well, Tony, I ‘ve extended each time.”

Cardenas said he then urged the president to issue an executive order to relieve at least $10,000 in student loan debt. In making his case, Cardenas said he told Biden that Latinos in the United States who have student debt still have more than 80% of their bill owing after more than a dozen years.

Biden was “incredibly positive” about the idea, Cardenas said.

Another lawmaker present, Rep. Darren Soto (D-Florida), said Biden’s response to lawmakers’ demands to at least cancel student debt was essentially that he would like to do so as soon as possible. The president suggested he consider taking executive action quickly, telling Hispanic lawmakers they would be very happy with what he does next, according to aides briefed at the meeting.

Still, Biden stressed that the timing of any announcement on student loan relief was sensitive, as he wouldn’t want it to add to inflationary pressures.

The president tried to impress on lawmakers that he understands the burden of student loans on a personal level, noting that he recently finished paying off his late son Beau’s outstanding student debt. Biden often brought up the story during the campaign trail when discussing the topic with voters.

“I’m very confident that he pushes his team to do something and to do something important,” Cardenas said in an interview. “That’s my feeling.”

For much of his presidency, Biden has not been supportive of the idea of ​​outright student debt cancellation. In an interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks last year, Biden reacted dismissively to the idea, saying, “The idea that you go to Penn and pay a total of $70,000 a year and that the public should pay for it? I do not agree.

The president also pushed back against the argument of progressives that he should cancel all federal student loans, stressing that he would target any plan to help low-income and disadvantaged students.

During the presidential campaign, Biden wrote in a mid-2020 article that he favored a plan “to cancel student debt for low-income and middle-class people who attended colleges and universities. Public” as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

In that article, Biden spoke of “immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 in student debt per person,” adding that those earning less than $25,000 a year would not have to make monthly payments and would accrue no interest.

But amid onslaught of pressure from influential Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the administration won’t never ruled out the idea. White House officials recently stressed that Biden will make a decision on student loan cancellations by Aug. 31, when the current moratorium on loan repayments expires.

“What I would tell you is that not a single person in this country has paid a dime on federal student loans since the president took office,” the White House press secretary said Monday. , Jen Psaki.

Monday’s Hispanic caucus meeting was part of a series of meetings Biden has held with different Democratic coalitions on Capitol Hill in recent weeks to discuss safeguarding his agenda by making executive order recommendations. Several senior White House officials and other administration officials also attended the Hispanic Caucus meeting, including Domestic Policy Chief Susan Rice, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, Emmy Ruiz, the White House Director of Political Strategy and Outreach, White House Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet Cristobal Alex. , and Louisa Terrell, the director of legislative affairs, according to an administration official.

About Judith J. George

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