Dems apply public pressure on Biden after he balks at student debt forgiveness

Cancelling student loan debt would be a major contributor to closing the racial wealth gap in America.

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Disappointed Democrats are turning to a public pressure campaign to persuade President Joe Biden to sign off on $50,000 in student loan elimination after the president definitively said he would not support that figure.

“I will not make that happen,” Biden said in Milwaukee when asked about the $50,000 total. “I do think in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debtors that are accumulated, No. 1, and No. 2, I’m prepared to write off the $10,000 but not ($50,000) because I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing the pen.”

President Joe Biden met with labor union leaders in the Oval Office Wednesday to discuss and promote his $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus plan. (Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images)

The president’s assertion during Tuesday’s CNN town hall prompted a quick response from progressive Democrats.

“An ocean of student loan debt is holding back 43 million borrowers and disproportionately weighing down Black and Brown Americans,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a joint statement Wednesday. The New York and Massachusetts senators reintroduced a resolution earlier this month, alongside several progressive House Dems, that calls on Biden to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower.

“It’s time to act,” Schumer and Warren wrote in their statement. “We will keep fighting.”

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According to NBC News, “a survey of registered Black voters shows 40 percent would consider staying home for the next election if there’s no action on student loan debt.”

“Black voters who were responsible for delivering not only a majority in the Senate but [also] a Biden-Harris administration … overwhelmingly want to see sweeping reform in terms of student loan elimination,” Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color Of Change, told NBC.

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TheGrio’s April Ryan wrote this week that cancelling student loan debt would be a major contributor to closing the racial wealth gap in America. In Ryan’s article, Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — who has made the issue a signature component of her career — said: “We got a mandate from the people for [Biden] to honor the promises he made on the campaign trail. Yes, we are calling for the cancellation of $50,000 worth of debt, which is critical to adjust an equitable economic recovery from this pandemic.”

“If we can persuade the president, we can do this one fast,” Warren — who made the issue central to her own presidential run — emphasized Wednesday during a virtual town hall.

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“Even if you don’t have student loan debt,” she said, “you will be helped by seeing student loan debt cancelled because it will help our economy, and it invests in our future.”

Ryan noted that Schumer says Biden “told us he says he’s thinking seriously about it. We said we’re going to mount a campaign. He said, ‘Go right ahead.’ So, I would urge your listeners, if they believe in this, to email, write, call the White House and simply say, ‘Please get rid of $50,000 of debt.'”

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