At Wednesday’s press conference, President Joe Biden dodged questions about his campaign promise to cancel student debt up to $10,000. This frustrates debt activists as well as borrowers who have been begging to get relief.
A reporter asked the president. a series of two questionsAt the end of the press conference. “I have two really simple questions, I promise. You campaigned on canceling $10,000 in student loans,” the reporter said. “Do you still plan to do so and when?” The reporter then asked a question About the Electoral Count Act.
“I’m happy to speak out,” the president responded. He only addressed the second question. He spoke about reaching out to Republicans regarding election issues and negotiating across aisles. The conference was concluded when he stepped down from the podium.
Debt activists have criticized Biden for “blatantly” ignoring the question. “Biden may have dodged a question today, but he won’t be able to ignore 45 million student loan borrowers if he attempts to turn payments back on in May,” said Braxton Brewington, press secretary of the Debt Collective activist group.
“The president’s ignoring of a valid question on student debt and his failure to keep a campaign promise is unfortunately reflective of this administration’s failure – whether through incompetence or malice – to address the costly burden of student loans,” Brewington continued. “$1.8 trillion of crushing student debt is a major policy failure that Biden can fix with the stroke of a pen.”
It’s unclear why the president has thus far refused to follow up on his promise to relieve student debt. Biden made a campaign promise to cancel $10,000 in student loans per borrower. However, his tone has changed dramatically since he became president.
In April 2013, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain spoke. PoliticoBiden had asked Education Department to Prepare a memo assessing the president’s legal authority to cancel student debt through the executive branch. Klain stated that the memo would be available in the coming weeks. However, the memo never materialized.
For months afterward, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki maintained that the administration didn’t have any news on the memo. However, November saw a change. debt activists uncoveredThe Freedom of Information Act request for the document. It was dated April 8.
Further, the contents of the memo were redacted, leading activists to speculate that the agency found that Biden has the legal authority to cancel student debt with “a stroke of a pen,” like many legal experts have emphasized.
“The Debt Collective activists developed a theory: that the lawyers at the Department of Education had already written their memo, that they had advised Biden that he did have the authority to cancel debt, and that the Administration was keeping the memo quiet because they didn’t like its conclusions,” wrote The New YorkerIt was at the time. “But this was mere speculation.”
Biden’s December speech further angered progressives and debt-activists. Psaki made this announcementHis administration wouldn’t be extending the student loan repayment freeze, which was set to end at the beginning of January. She went on to say that restarting loans was a “high priority for the administration,” a declaration that many debt activists viewed as callous.
After Psaki’s statement sparked outrage, the White House renegedThe student loan payment pause was extended for an additional 90 days. Payments are due to resume on May 1. Advocates for debt relief celebrated the announcement, but emphasized that it isn’t enough.
“For at least a few more months, struggling families will be able to keep tens of billions of dollars in their pockets — costly student loan payments that the federal government continues to prove it doesn’t need to function,” Brewington said. “Next, the Biden administration should permanently relieve this financial burden on families and the economy by using his executive authority to eliminate all federal student debt.”
Research has shown thatCollectively, student loan borrowers will lose $85 billion annually when student loan payments are repaid. This is especially true for Black borrowers, who tend to have higher debt loads than their white peers.
Many borrowers find student loans a major financial burden that can continue for decades. Some borrowers have reportedTheir debt can balloon to multiple times their original loan amount, even though they make timely payments.