Joe Biden may be changing his tune on massive student loan forgiveness.
President Joe Biden has requested that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona prepare a report on the president’s legal authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said in an interview on Thursday with Politico.
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“Hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks,” Klain said of the memo. “And then he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that and he’ll make a decision.”
On the campaign trail, Biden said he supported $10,000 in student loan forgiveness, but he is under mounting pressure from members of the Democratic Party, advocates and borrowers to go further by canceling $50,000 per person and to do so through executive action.
Although Biden in the past has expressed reluctance at bypassing Congress to cancel student debt, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested in February that the administration hadn’t ruled out the possibility. On his first day in office, Biden extended a pause on payments for federal student loan borrowers that has been in effect since March until this coming September.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he’s come to the conclusion that Biden can forgive $50,000 of the debt on his own.
“You don’t need Congress,” Schumer has said. “All you need is the flick of a pen.”
During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren vowed to forgive student loans in the first days of her administration, including with the announcement an analysis written by three legal experts, based at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, who described student debt forgiveness through executive action as “lawful and permissible.”
Others say Biden would run into court challenges if he tried to nix the debt on his own.
If it was determined that the president was able to cancel student debt without passing legislation, borrowers could see their balances reduced or eliminated overnight. On the other hand, the chances of Congress agreeing to forgive the loans is, at best, uncertain given Democrats’ razor-thin majority.
Come on Joe, let’s get this done.