House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressed doubt that student debt forgiveness — a policy favored by many Democrats — is a good idea.
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) held a press conference to list the purported benefits of pausing — and, in some cases, outright ending — federal student loan payments.
After asking President Biden to extend the federal pause on debt payments, Schumer stated that the move “has actually shown how important canceling student debt is to borrowers and to our economy.” He asserted that “ten times over, canceling $50,000 in debt would be even more important and helpful to these folks who are borrowers, to get the economy going, and to deal with the racial inequality which student debt has exacerbated.”
“All President Biden has to do is flick his pen and sign it,” Schumer continued. “Make America a happier, better, more prosperous place. We’re going to keep fighting until this happens.”
Weighing into the debate on Wednesday, Pelosi disagreed with the premise that Biden can unilaterally cancel student debt.
“People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness,” she remarked during a press conference. “He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”
However, the lawmaker also questioned the premise that student loan forgiveness is a beneficial policy.
“Suppose,” she said, “your child at this time does not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive someone else’s obligation. You may not be happy about that.”
Progressives quickly voiced disagreement with Pelosi.
“Suppose your child did not want to go fight countless and endless shadow wars across the globe, at this time, but you’re paying taxes to fund all of that,” tweeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in a remark retweeted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “You may not be happy about it!”
“This is an argument against every public good and that’s not how public goods work,” added 1619 Project founder and New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. “Why should we pay, then, for public school if our kids attend private or we have no kids? Why pay for libraries if we choose to and have the ability to buy books instead of borrow?”
“If the Democrats are going to send someone out to malign and oppose a program designed to help people get out from their inescapable mountain of college debt, shouldn’t they find someone who isn’t worth $115 million to deliver the message, just for the sake of appearance?” suggested author Glenn Greenwald.
“This CPAC footage is nuts,” quipped another user.