Politics

Pressley, Warren seem cautiously optimistic as Biden considers student loan forgiveness

Last week, Biden told reporters that he was "taking a hard look" at student loan forgiveness.

Activists hold signs as they attend a Student Loan Forgiveness rally on Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th street near the White House on April 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Though cautiously optimistic about some form of relief on the horizon, Democrats including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren continue to urge President Joe Biden to cancel student loan debt.

On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to cancel at least $10,000 of federal student loan debt per person, but he has not yet followed through on that promise.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pressley, Warren, and other Democrats have pushed even further, calling on the president to eliminate up to $50,000.

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Last week, Biden told reporters that he was “taking a hard look” at student loan forgiveness and planned to make a decision within a month.

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“All we know is that the President has expressed an openness to cancel some debt… that [in and of itself], is a tremendous victory,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley told Yahoo Finance.

“Any relief that we can provide people in the midst of unprecedented economic hardship as we begin to round the corner and head into a recovery from this pandemic induced recession would make a difference,” she added.

Biden did not disclose how much student debt could be canceled but said $50,000 in debt forgiveness was not something he was considering.

“I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness,” Biden said Thursday. “And I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”

Warren was pleased to hear this.

When asked by WCVB how she felt about Biden’s resistance to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt, Warren said “But remember what the president did say is that he is clearly moving toward cancellation of student loan debt.

“He’s not saying he doesn’t have the power to do it,” she continued. “He’s going to try to figure out the right way to do it. And I say, good for you, Joe Biden.”

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“I think that it is so powerfully important that we must cancel a big chunk of student loan debt,” Warren added.

Also seeing any kind of debt forgiveness consideration as a positive step, Pressley told Yahoo Finance, “I’ve always advocated for a broad-based student debt cancellation. It’s transformational, it’s impactful, and we were advocating for $50,000 by executive action, because that would help 80% of those in the lowest income bracket.”

Pressley has repeatedly drawn attention to the gender and racial disparities of student loan debt.

Not all Democrats are on board though. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Biden doesn’t have the authority to cancel student debt.

“Suppose … your child just decided they, at this time, [do] not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations,” Pelosi told reporters in July. “You may not be happy about that.”

Other concerns noted by experts include how many people could actually benefit from some form of student debt forgiveness and how such a move could affect inflation.

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