Lawmakers within his party continue to put the issue front and center, urging the president to cancel $50,000 of each of the 43 million federal student loan borrowers. – Something I drop over and over, including on Thursday.
But these moves have done little to ease political pressure.
“Borrowers don’t just need to pause their debt; they want to erase it,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.
“With the flick of a pen, President Biden can give millions upon millions of student loan borrowers a new lease for life,” the New York Democrat added.
“I’m thinking about dealing with some debt relief,” Biden said at the White House after unveiling new funding for Ukraine. “I’m not thinking about $50,000 debt relief.”
“But I’m in the process of taking a closer look at whether or not there is anything there — there’s going to be additional debt forgiveness, and I’ll have an answer to that in the next couple of weeks.”
Later Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that “no conclusion has been reached on any internal process yet.”
There are several reasons why Biden is resisting withdrawing from the left wing of his party.
Legal authority is unclear
Biden made it clear during his presidential campaign, after the Covid-19 pandemic began, that he supports the partial cancellation of federal student debt.
His campaign proposal called for the immediate cancellation of at least $10,000 in student debt per person in response to the pandemic, as well as the forgiveness of all federal student debt related to college tuition from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for those borrowers who earn up to $125,000 in the year.
But he also urged Congress to take action to cancel the debt, rather than saying it could use the executive branch to do so.
It’s not entirely clear if the president’s executive branch allows him to wipe out student debt on a large scale. Last year, Biden directed attorneys at the Departments of Education and Justice to assess whether he had, in fact, the ability to cancel federal student loan debt on a large scale. The administration did not disclose those findings.
Inflation is a major issue for voters
Millions of people will be able to spend the money — roughly $4 billion a month, according to one estimate — on things other than monthly student loan payments. And people may be more likely to make large purchases, such as cars or homes, if they no longer have student debt hanging over their heads.
It’s not a giant,” said Mark Goldwyn, senior vice president and senior policy director at the Committee on Responsible Federal Budget.
“In a normal inflation environment, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But we are in a very critical situation right now and we risk getting inflation out of control,” he added.
Debt Cancellation Can Benefit Many Rich People
Biden has repeatedly said he is committed to making sure wealthy Americans pay their fair share and has proposed raising taxes on the richest Americans. Student debt cancellation may conflict with this policy goal.
More targeted approaches, such as canceling debt for borrowers who earn less than a certain income threshold or canceling loans borrowed only for bachelor’s degrees, can help ensure more benefits reach Americans who need it most.
“If you don’t fix the system, these problems will recur and we’ll go back to the same crisis we’re in now,” Looney said.
Psaki said Thursday that the president continues to consider some sort of means test when it comes to canceling the loan.
“He’s talked in the past about how he doesn’t think millionaires or billionaires should benefit – or even high-income people – and that’s definitely something he will look at,” she said.
To date, Biden’s actions have provided more than $17 billion in student debt relief to 725,000 borrowers. About $3.2 billion This was canceled for borrowers who had been defrauded by their for-profit colleges.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.