Prominent liberals within the Democratic Party renewed calls for President Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt following his town hall in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Biden said that he was “prepared to write off” $10,000 worth of debt, but declined to back the proposal spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. High-profile progressives including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal and others also called for more student debt forgiveness, arguing that Biden could do so through an executive order.
“Canceling $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help close the racial wealth gap, benefit the 40% of borrowers who do not have a college degree, and help stimulate the economy,” Schumer and Warren said in a joint statement. “It’s time to act. We will keep fighting.”
“POTUS does have the authority to #cancelstudentdebt with the stroke of a pen,” said Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley. “He can and must use it. The people deserve nothing less.”
“The president has the authority to cancel $50K in student debt right now,” Jayapal said on Wednesday, calling on Congress to pass legislation doing so if Biden did not on his own.
The pressure from progressives, which originated last fall, is the latest rift between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic party. Though Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier in February that Biden was exploring possible executive actions to cancel student debt, Biden rejected Schumer and Warren’s proposal on Tuesday.
“I will not make that happen,” Biden said in response to a town hall attendee asking him to cancel at least $50,000 of student debt, adding that he would rather use that money to assist disadvantaged communities and better early education instead of forgiving debt for those who went to elite colleges and universities.