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Politics Democrats Must Go All-in on Student Loan Forgiveness | Opinion

06:35  27 february  2021
06:35  27 february  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

Ocasio-Cortez: 'The case against student loan forgiveness is looking shakier by the day'

  Ocasio-Cortez: 'The case against student loan forgiveness is looking shakier by the day' Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) responded to President Biden's comments on student loan forgiveness late Tuesday, saying the case against it "is looking shakier by the day." "I do think in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, No. 1. And No. 2, I'm prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not [$50,000]," Biden said during the CNN town hall in Wisconsin. Pressed by a questioner in the audience if he would see to cancelation of $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower, Biden said: "I will not make that happen.

The choice is clear: Democrats must make student loan forgiveness a priority ahead of minimum wage while they hold legislative capital.

a traffic light in front of a building: The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a sign during a demonstration in support of COVID-19 relief on February 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C. © Al Drago/Getty Images The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a sign during a demonstration in support of COVID-19 relief on February 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

The path forward comes as a result of a recent decision to not include a $15 minimum wage increase in the multi-trillion dollar COVID-19 relief package currently making its way through Congress.

President Joe Biden said he was "disappointed" but "respects" the ruling.

At a recent CNN town hall, Biden expressed hesitation regarding bumping the minimum wage to $15—even though wages would increase incrementally until reaching $15 in 2025. After acknowledging he would be open to some kind of legislative negotiation that includes a gradual increase, he added, "It's totally legitimate for small business owners to be concerned."

Schumer, Warren push for $50K in student debt cancellation after Biden balks

  Schumer, Warren push for $50K in student debt cancellation after Biden balks Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are pressing President Biden to use his executive power to cancel $50,000 per borrower in student debt after he balked at the idea at a Tuesday town hall."An ocean of student loan debt is holding back 43 million borrowers and disproportionately weighing down Black and Brown Americans. Cancelling $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help close the racial wealth gap, benefit the 40% of borrowers who do not have a college degree, and help stimulate the economy. It's time to act. We will keep fighting," Warren and Schumer said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

In Biden's political defense, the bill looked dead in the Senate anyway.

Two Democrats—Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—publicly expressed wariness regarding wage hikes as part of a package aimed to alleviate economic tribulations of citizens and small businesses.

The party's majority is so slim that just one vote against the package, due to minimum wage or otherwise, would have torpedoed it. If you include the fact that no Republicans would approve a package that included a $15 minimum wage—they want $10—it would have halted relief and put the onus on the left.

A minimum wage increase, which last occurred during the Obama administration, is not frowned upon. A majority of Americans support it. Wages have not increased with the rate of inflation.

Biden faces backlash from left on student loans

  Biden faces backlash from left on student loans President Biden is facing intense backlash from progressive lawmakers after saying Tuesday he would not sign a measure to forgive up to $50,000 in federally held student debt per borrower through executive action. During a CNN town hall, Biden shot down the debt forgiveness plan pushed by top Democratic lawmakers and prominent progressives, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) "I will not make that happen," Biden said when asked about whether he would support $50,000 in student loan forgiveness.

According to a 2019 Congressional Budget Office report, approximately 1 million jobs could be lost due to minimum wage improvements. This put a dent in support.

Meanwhile, Biden and his administration have been upfront about forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt.

A Vox/Data for Progress poll iterated that 51 percent of college-educated and non-college-educated Americans support the elimination of $50,000 of debt for individuals making less than $125,000 per year. That 51 percent is comprised mostly of individuals who possess some kind of debt and is more widely supported by Democrats, Black people, women and people under 45 years old when compared with Republicans, older white people and men.

The benefit of Biden's pulpit is that he is allowed to invoke executive action to cancel student debt, as pressured by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren—both argue the president has the authority to release borrowers from loans due to the Higher Education Act.

AOC not impressed with Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan

  AOC not impressed with Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan AOC pointed out that powerful Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is on board with the bigger forgiveness plan and recently met with Biden to make the case for wider relief. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., said the student debt crisis “has always been a racial and economic justice issue.”Proponents of canceling bigger amounts of student loan debt say young people are forced to take unsustainable amounts of debt due to the unaffordably high cost of college. © Seth Wenig Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.

In January 2020, the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School sent a letter to Warren stating that canceling $50,000 of debt for approximately 42 million borrowers was "a lawful and permissible exercise of the [U.S. Department of Education] Secretary's authority under existing law."

Biden expressed reluctance to use executive action and not let Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, have a say. Progressives are worried.

Currently, about one in eight Americans have some form of student debt that totals about $1.5 trillion—compared to $250 billion in 2004. Student loan debt surpasses credit card debt.

A longterm plan targeted to aid low- and middle-income workers, as opposed to absolving higher wage earners who possess more debt due to post-secondary degrees, would prove more beneficial—as would targeting obscene interest rates on existing debts.

Based on data in the fourth quarter of 2020 compiled by the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid, forgiving $10,000 would completely cancel debt for 33.6 percent of borrowers—while also benefiting the largest borrower group of 9.6 million individuals who owe between $20,000 and $40,000.

Democrats Are on a 'Disastrous Path' to Midterm Loss, Marianne Williamson Warns

  Democrats Are on a 'Disastrous Path' to Midterm Loss, Marianne Williamson Warns President Joe Biden is facing pressure from the left over the minimum wage, student loan debt and the coronavirus stimulus package.During the election campaign, Biden vowed to work toward a $2,000 stimulus payment for all Americans, to make higher education more affordable for the middle classes and to raise the federal minimum wage. Since taking office, however, the president has signalled more moderate action than his progressive supporters had hoped for.

A one-time cancellation of the nation's outstanding student debt would translate to an average increase of $86 billion to $108 billion per year, according to a 2018 study by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College—money that could go toward paying other bills, mortgages or starting a new business.

Low wage workers, whose numbers reduced dramatically since the onset of the coronavirus, have worked tirelessly. They deserve rightful compensation. But Washington legislators hold political footballs and not every pass reaches the end zone.

Even if wage increases were hypothetically included in the COVID-19 relief package, the effects would not be felt for years—at which point the rate of inflation will likely make $15 still seem much too low by mid-decade. It's low right now.

There is a benefit of fast-tracking the elimination of copious amount of student loan debt now, leading the economically fragile into a new world of opportunity.

It would provide a level of sanity and stability to those who procured debt only because they wanted to get an education.

Nick Mordowanec is a journalist based in metro Detroit. His work has been published in various outlets including Environmental Health News, Zenger News and The Gander.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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Progressives Still Pushing for Student Loan Relief, Despite Poll Showing Its Unpopularity .
The study found just 13 percent of Americans said they support forgiving $50,000 in federal student loans. Meanwhile, 19 percent said they support forgiving $10,000 in loans; 25 percent said they are behind forgiving all student loans; and 22 percent said they don't support any amount of student loan forgiveness.

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