The administration of President Biden has once again extended the moratorium on student debt repayments, some progressives believe that unless more is done, Democrats could suffer in the 2022 midterm elections.
The Democratic Party’s progressive wing is warning that if the Biden-Harris administration fails to meet its campaign pledge of eliminating student loan debt, it will lose votes and future elections.
Before the delay was extended, some prominent Democrats expressed their fears about payments restarting and how it may cost them the midterm elections.
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said that “forcing millions to start paying student loans again” will cost Democrats the midterm elections.
The student loan debt total amount in the United States is presently 1.75 trillion dollars
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, said it would be “delusory” to expect Democrats can be re-elected without addressing student debt.
According to Natalia Abrams, head of the Student Loan Issue Center, a group dedicated to addressing the student debt crisis, “Democrats and lawmakers need to be careful because this is something the public has said they want.”
“If you can afford to pause student loan payments over and over again, you can afford to cancel it,” Derrick Johnson tweeted after Joe Biden announced that the government halt on student loan repayment will be extended for the 3rd time in December.
In a recent interview with CBS News, Vice President Kamala Harris reacted to Ocasio-statement Cortez’s by adding that Secretary of Education Cardona has been looking into what the administration can do to relieve the burden that borrowers are feeling from student loan debt. Harris, on the other hand, recognized the effect student debt is having on people throughout the nation.
“Graduates and former students across our country are literally making decisions about whether they can have a family, whether they can buy a home,” she added.
Harris was then asked whether the Biden administration needed to follow through on its commitment to forgive student loan debt prior to the 2022 midterm elections, to which she agreed.
“Well, I think that we have to continue to do what we’re doing and figure out how we can creatively relieve the pressure that students are feeling because of their student loan debt. Yes.”
Biden committed to cancel a minimum of $10,000 in federal student debts per borrower during the 2020 election.
There are two primary challenges preventing Democrats from addressing student debt. First, there is no consensus within the Democrats on who has the authority to erase student debt.
Several Democrats, notably Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have urged the Biden administration to utilize presidential power to cancel federal student loans. However, the Biden administration has resisted, claiming that they are unsure if Biden has the right to do so.
In mid-December, when questioned about Biden’s campaign pledge to erase $10,000 in federal student loan debt, Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated that if Congress brought Biden a measure to cancel the student debt, he would be glad to sign it.
In a news conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Biden does not have the legal right to erase federal student loan debt by executive action.
“People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness; he does not,” said Pelosi. “He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power, that has to be an act of Congress.”
Another obstacle impeding Democrats from making any progress on student debt is a lack of agreement on how much they should cancel the loan.
Several Democrats, notably Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass. ) and Schumer, have advocated for the cancellation of $50,000 in student loan debt, which Biden indicated he would “not make happen” in February during a CNN town hall.
During the same town hall, Biden reaffirmed his support for the cancellation of $10,000 in student loan debt.
The Democrats have roughly five months until the federal student loan repayment moratorium expires.
“I think one of the best things that Democrats can do to secure midterms would be to cancel student debt,” Abrams told ABC News. “At the very least keep loans on pause.”