Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pressed President Biden to unilaterally cancel $50,000 in student loans for each borrower in the interest of racial justice.
Over the past week, top Democratic lawmakers have sparred over whether President Biden has the authority to forgive student debt. Joining Warren in a press conference on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that “all President Biden has to do is flick his pen” to be “helpful to these folks who are borrowers, to get the economy going, and to deal with the racial inequality which student debt has exacerbated.”
On Wednesday, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) publicly disagreed with Schumer, saying that canceling student loan debt would have to “be an act of Congress.”
She also rejected the premise that student loan forgiveness is a beneficial policy — a rebuke of progressive orthodoxy that earned her a feature on the Twitter page “Accidentally Libertarian.”
“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.”
During an interview with CNN anchor Don Lemon, Warren countered Pelosi’s rebuttal.
“The President does have the power to cancel student loan debt,” she asserted. “And you know how I know that? Because President Obama did it, President Trump did it, and President Biden has already done it. President Obama did it for several million people. President Trump did it when he said ‘For all 43 million people without standing student loan debt, I forgive your interest and you can spend payments.’ That’s canceling your interest — not delay it, cancel it.”
“And President Biden has done both of those things,” she continued. “So Presidents have the power, they have used the power — I just want to see him use that power to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt.”
“And I’ll tell you why: it’s because of the people who need that debt canceled. 40% of the folks who are carrying student loan debt don’t have a college diploma. They tried, but life caught up with them. They had babies or someone in the family got sick. They were working three jobs — and now, they’re earning what a high school grad earns, but they are paying on college loans.”
Warren also claimed that the policy is an “economic justice issue” and a “racial justice issue.”
“African-Americans borrow more money to go to school, more money while they’re in school, and have a harder time paying it off when they get out of school,” she asserted. “Canceling $50,000 of student loan debt would help close the black-white wealth gap for people with student loan debt by twenty-five points. And for Latinos, by twenty-seven points.”
In a February town hall, President Biden asserted that he only has authority to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt. However, his first budget proposal included no funding for such a move.