Biden Shuts Down $50K Student Debt Idea in 6 Words

'I will not make that happen'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2021 11:00 AM CST
Biden on Student Debt Idea: 'I Will Not Make That Happen'
President Biden is seen during a break in a televised town hall event at Pabst Theater on Tuesday in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden on Tuesday slammed the door shut on a proposal to erase $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower with six words: "I will not make that happen," he said at a CNN town hall. But NBC News reports he did indicate that he was willing to move forward with a downsized version of that plan, saying, "I understand the impact of debt, and it can be debilitating. I am prepared to write off the $10,000 debt but not $50 [thousand], because I don't think I have the authority to do it." That authority, he suggested, sits with Congress. More:

  • But it's members of Congress—Sens. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren among them—who want to see Biden use an executive order to wipe away that $50,000-per-borrower amount, with the justification that such authority lies with the secretary of education. And at the beginning of February, the two introduced a resolution calling on Biden to do that very thing.

  • MarketWatch has more of Biden's comments on the topic, including his questioning the idea of getting rid of "the billions of dollars of debt for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn ... Is that going to be forgiven rather than use that money to provide for early education for young children who come from disadvantaged circumstances?" he asked.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a response to that point early Wednesday: "1. Who cares what school someone went to? Entire generations of working class kids were encouraged to go into more debt under the guise of elitism. This is wrong. 2. Nowhere does it say we must trade-off early childhood education for student loan forgiveness. We can have both."
  • CNBC cites a December survey that found about 75% of Americans are on board with the idea of canceling $10,000 in debt. CNBC runs down some other numbers, too, including these: If $50,000 were indeed erased for all federal student loan borrowers, the student loan debt balance would shrink by $1 trillion, to $700 billion, and 80% of federal student loan borrowers (that's 36 million people) would emerge with zero debt.
Biden does support free community college and free public four-year college for students whose families make $125,000 or less. Fox Business notes he has extended the freeze on student loan payments through Sept. 30, a move that impacted about 41 million Americans. (Read more student loans stories.)

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