The handouts from the White House may be continuing. President Joe Biden received a letter from more than 80 Democratic lawmakers pleading with him to cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt for each borrower.
The letter included the signature of the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). These lawmakers began the letter by thanking President Biden for extending the student loan pause. This was a decision Biden made in December. They went on to ask that the president permanently cancel federal student loan debt.
“As you continue to evaluate the best way forward to an equitable recovery [from COVID-19], we urge you to direct the Department of Education to publicly release the memo outlining your legal authority to broadly cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower,” the letter said.
The lawmakers from the left said that this decision could provide relief to more than 36 million Americans. The letter conceded that student loan payments would eventually resume, but they did not give a timeline for that to take effect.
Their rationale was that high COVID-19 case counts created an economic disruption. They stated that to restart student loan payments without this kind of broad cancellation would be disastrous for millions of borrowers and their families.
Back in December, the White House froze student loan payments until May 1. When the decision was made, the New York Times reported that it affected approximately 41 million borrowers. This number included almost 27 million borrowers who had not made a payment since March of 2020.
President Biden said after his decision to freeze student loans that the nation’s job recovery is one of the strongest ever and that six million jobs were added in 2021. He added in December that millions of student loan borrowers were still coping with the reality of the pandemic and they would need more time before they could start paying on their school debts.
This is not new news. President Biden talked a lot about student loan forgiveness during his presidential campaign. In March of 2020, he promised to forgive a minimum of $10,000 per person.
Now, Vice President Kamala Harris has joined the band calling for student loan forgiveness. According to The Daily Wire, Harris said that Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education, is working on what he can do from the White House to relieve the pressures of student loan debt. Harris made these comments while being interviewed by Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
Vice President Harris continued, “Students across — well graduates and former students across our country are making decisions about whether they can have a family, whether they can buy a home. And it’s no small matter, and we need to figure out a way to relieve debt.”
The letter to President Biden from Democratic leadership also noted that canceling student loans would help close the racial and gender gap. They focused on black communities that have been “borne out of generations of discriminatory policies.”
The letter explained that systemic barriers have made it so that Black, Latino, and Native American borrowers are more likely to have problems with repayment. They, then, could default on their loans at higher rates.
The price tag on such a move would be around $1 trillion and 80% of student loan borrowers, or 36 million people, would have their debt cleared entirely.
The president has asked both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice to prepare memos on his legal authority to cancel student debt. Schumer and Warren have insisted the president has the power to do so.
Most experts agree that the chances of Congress passing legislation to deliver the relief are close to zero.