Joe Biden may not be a particularly ideological politician, but one of the few things he seems to absolutely believe in is debt. In particular, student debt.
On the campaign trail he appeared to suggest otherwise, repeatedly promising that he would support some incremental action to forgive student debt, tweeting that the federal government should forgive “a minimum” of $10,000 of college loans.
Last week, however, Biden defied Democratic leaders on the issue, declaring “I will not make that happen” when asked whether he supported Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to go farther and cancel up to $50,000 of federal student debt — and his administration refused to commit to using existing executive authority to reduce that debt.
The declaration echoes a point of contrast between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, when the Vermont independent pushed for full student debt cancellation. Biden’s statement also rekindles a bitter conflict between him and Warren, who as a Harvard Law professor excoriated him in harsh terms for consistently opposing debt relief. She is now calling on Americans to press Biden to use his existing executive authority to enact more debt relief, but the White House is balking.
The entire episode is a reminder that Biden’s current position is consistent with his 40-year history of leaving Americans loaded down with bills as a consequence of seeking a higher education.
Biden Is Wrong: Most Student Debtors Are Not Rich
In justifying his opposition to Democratic lawmakers’ proposal, Biden asserted at a CNN town hall last week that people who went to “Harvard and Yale and Penn” should not have their federal student debt forgiven. The refrain echoed the now-pervasive talking point that people who attended expensive, elite schools would be the primary beneficiaries of student debt relief.
In reality, only 0.3 percent of people with federal student loans attended Ivy League schools, while about half attended public universities.
Biden’s comment also implied that cancelling up to $50,000 worth of student debt would primarily help rich people, which is also inaccurate.
An October report from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth — which was co-founded by one of Biden’s top economic policy advisers — found that “the student debt burden in the United States falls most heavily on those U.S. households in the bottom 50 percent of the income distribution — and even more on Black American households.”
Those findings were echoed by a new study from the Jain Family Institute which shows that most people with outstanding federal student loans live in census tracts where the median income is less than $40,000.
“The sheer number of borrowers in low- and lower-middle income categories outnumber those in the higher-income groups,” noted the study, which concluded, “Thus, the greatest share of the benefit from cancellation accrues to people living in lower-income communities, relative to higher-income ones.”
Unbreaking America: Drowning in Student Debt . Ed Helms (9 min. video) >> https://represent.us/drowning-in-student-debt/?akid=128663.31470.SW4ZmE&rd=1&source=ak-em-pdf-20210218-graphic-email&t=9&utm_campaign=pdf&utm_content=20210218&utm_medium=em&utm_source=ak&utm_term=graphic-email#!fancybox/yt/qyqaEZWtYrA
Former Sanders Aide Blasts Biden Over Student Debt Forgiveness << The Hill: “Briahna Joy Gray, the former press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign said that President Biden is hiding behind the most `unsympathetic character’ to avoid canceling up to $50,000 in student loan debt.”
Fact Check: Biden’s Comments on Loan Forgiveness and Elite Colleges << Elissa Nadworny, NPR: “At a CNN town hall, President Biden was asked if he supported the idea of forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt for individuals.”
Biden Has the Power to Cancel Student Loan Debt Now. What’s Stopping Him? << Amy Goodman & Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!
What Joe Biden Gets Totally Wrong About Student Debt << Elie Mystal, The Nation
New Economic Study ‘Demolishes’ Myth About Student Debt Parroted by Joe Biden << Common Dreams: “The president’s resistance to canceling $50,000 in student debt is not about law or policy but about craven, misguided politics.”
Teachers Are Fighting Back Against Bipartisan Push to Reopen Schools << Tatiana Cozzarelli, Left Voice
School Districts Around the United States Lack Any Real Regard for Educators’ Lives << Barbara Madeloni, Jacobin: “Throughout the country, teachers are being forced back into schools before it’s fully safe. While many teachers’ unions are waging valiant fights against unsafe reopenings, too many of them are losing.”
What’s Really Wrong With—and How to Fix—Our Broken Education System << Zoe Weil, Psychology Today: “It’s not just that so many schools aren’t succeeding at achieving their stated objectives; it’s that many of their stated objectives are no longer the right ones for today’s world.”
How School Funding Can Help Repair the Legacy of Segregation << Anna North, Vox: “America’s schools spend less money on Black students. Closing the gap is key to equality.”
Biden’s Health Plan Shifts Even More Public Dollars Into Private Hands << Margaret Flowers, Truthout: “Biden’s American Rescue Plan, like the Affordable Care Act, does not move us any closer toward a single-payer system.”
Sherrod Brown Demands Biden Immediately Remove Two ‘Key Agents’ of Trump Agenda to Destroy Social Security << Common Dreams: “No one has been safe from their path of destruction.”
46 and Done: Why Joe Biden Should Be Our Last President << Alexis Grenell, The Nation: “Parliamentary democracies give their citizens tuition-free college, state-subsidized child care, generous paid leave, socialized medicine. We get `Hail to the Chief.’”
GOP Refusal to Convict Trump Is ‘A Clarion Call for Eliminating the Filibuster,’ Says Ro Khanna << Common Dreams: “`Dear centrist Democrats, you couldn’t even get 10 GOP votes to convict the guy who sent a mob to kill you all. You think you can get them to vote on issues like immigration/climate? Come on,’ said one progressive activist.”
UNDER THE RADAR this legislation was introduced in Washington DC last week >> H.R.996 – To establish a commission to make recommendations on the appropriate size of membership of the House of Representatives and the method by which Members are elected. With follow-through it will have far-reaching implications for the balance of power in Congress and the Electoral College. >> https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/996?r=11&s=1 (from Pete Simon)