NEW YORK, NY – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Thursday continued to pressure President Joe Biden to forgive $50,000 in student loan debt for individual borrowers – which would amount to billions of dollars – after Biden recently noted that it was “unlikely” that he would do so via an executive order, reports say.
Biden has expressed support in the past for erasing $10,000 in student debt, however. He also extended a freeze on student loan payments through September 30, 2021 upon entering office.
Some House Democrats have been pushing Biden to use his authority to “cancel $50,000 of student loans” without detailing any income limitations, presumably meaning the loan forgiveness would be across the board. A similar plan by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would apply to borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually.
Ocasio-Cortez has been an especially outspoken proponent of student loan forgiveness, and recently said during an Instagram Q&A that if Biden needs to have a fire lit under his feet to get it done, than she was prepared to do so.
“The Biden admin NEEDS to be pushed. They have said they’re comfortable with $10K in forgiveness but we NEED at least $50K minimum and there is support for 50K,” she said. “We cannot take no for an answer. This will all come down to public pressure. We have a window to ORGANIZE and rally for your public officials to demand forgiveness.”
Democrats have claimed that Biden is capable of erasing student loan debt via Higher Education Act, which would give him the authority to “modify, compromise, waive or release” student loans; Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) has insisted such a move would help to kickstart the pandemic-damaged economy.
However, if Biden took that route to erase student debt, it would almost certainly face an uphill legal challenge from those claiming that such an act exceeds the President’s authority. In addition, some studies indicate that canceling student loan debt could actually disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans – higher earners would be able to forgive more debt – and would greatly add to the country’s massive $3.1 trillion national deficit.
Currently, student loan debt has reached a whopping $1.7 trillion, with 1 in 6 U.S. citizens currently owing money on a school loan.