As the Biden administration has once again extended the hiatus on student loan repayments, some progressives have said unless they do more, it could cost Democrats midway through 2022.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is sounding the alarm bells about the potential loss of voters and subsequent races if the election promise to cancel student loan debt is not kept by the Biden-Harris administration.
Before the hiatus was extended, several prominent Democrats voiced concerns about the resumption of payments and how it could cost them mid-term.
Representative Cori Bush, D-Mo., tweeted, that “forcing millions to start paying off student loans again” will cost Democrats mid-sessions.
The total amount of student debt in the United States currently stands at $ 1.75 trillion.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., said it would be “illusory” to believe Democrats can be re-elected without taking action on student debt.
Natalia Abrams, president of the Student Debt Crisis Center, a nonprofit focused on ending the student debt crisis, told ABC News that “Democrats and lawmakers need to be careful because it’s something that the public said they wanted “.
âIf you can afford to suspend student loan payments over and over again, you can afford to cancel them,â said NAACP Chairman Derrick Johnson. tweeted after President Joe Biden announced his administration would extend the federal hiatus on student loan repayments for the third time in December.
Vice President Kamala Harris responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s comment in a recent interview with CBS News, saying Education Secretary Cardona is looking into what the Biden administration can do to ease the pressure borrowers are facing in because of student loan debt. However, Harris also acknowledged the impact of student debt on individuals across the country.
âThe graduates and alumni of our country are literally making decisions about whether they can start a family, whether they can buy a house,â she said.
Harris was then asked if the Biden administration should keep its promise to forgive student loan debt before the 2022 mid-term that Harris agreed to.
âWell, I think we need to keep doing what we’re doing and find out how we can creatively relieve the pressure that students are feeling because of their student loan debt. Yes. “
In the 2020 election, Biden promised to waive a minimum of $ 10,000 in federal student loans per borrower.
Two major issues are preventing Democrats from tackling student debt. First, there is no agreement within the Democratic Party on who has the power to cancel student debt.
Several Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Have pushed the Biden administration to use the executive branch to cancel federal student loans. Still, the Biden administration backed down, saying it didn’t know if Biden had the power to do so.
Asked about Biden’s campaign pledge to write off $ 10,000 in federal student debt in mid-December, press secretary Jen Psaki said if Congress sends Biden a bill to write off student debt , he would be “happy to sign it”.
In July, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a news conference that President Biden does not have the legal authority to use executive action to write off federal student loan debt.
âPeople think the President of the United States has the power to write off debt, he doesn’t,â Pelosi said. “He can postpone, he can delay, but he doesn’t have that power, it has to be an act of Congress.”
Another issue preventing Democrats from making progress on student debt is that there does not appear to be a consensus on how much to write off.
Several Democrats, including Schumer and Rep. Ayanna Pressley D-Mass., Have called for the cancellation of $ 50,000 in federal student loan debt, which Biden said he “would not make happen” when asked him about it at a CNN town hall in February.
At that same town hall, Biden reiterated his support for the cancellation of $ 10,000 in student loan debt.
Democrats have about five months before the break on federal student loans expires.
âI think one of the best things Democrats can do to secure semesters would be to write off student debt,â Abrams told ABC News. âAt the very least, keep the loans on hiatus. “