Just weeks ahead of the end of the pandemic-era student loan pause, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley met with labor leaders Wednesday at the Boston Teachers Union to renew their call for student loan cancellation.
“I want to take a moment to acknowledge that we are closer than ever before to seeing student debt canceled, and that has everything to do with the many who have been crushed by this and continue to be burdened who have amplified and shared their stories,” Pressley said.
Former President Trump and later President Biden paused student loan payments and interest accrual from early 2020 through much of the pandemic — that pause is set to run out on Aug. 31.
As the deadline nears, there has been speculation over whether Biden will extend it or possibly issue an executive order to cancel student loan debt.
Pressley and Warren have joined activists in advocating for $50,000 of debt cancellation. Biden has stated he’s unwilling to go that far, indicating interest in the idea of $10,000.
“In a matter of days, (the student loan pause) will expire, and it will be consequential,” Pressley said. “We have seen during the pandemic that people have been able to use that money to remain safely housed, for other bills. This is an issue of consequences for people from every walk of life.”
Pressley and Warren emphasized Wednesday that analysis has shown this is “an economic issue, a racial issue, a gender issue and a generational issue.” They cited statistics, noting women carry two-thirds of all student loan debt and that Black borrowers are five times as likely to default on their college loans.
“If the president would cancel $50,000 of student loan debt, we could close the Black-white wealth gap overall for people with student loan debt by 27 points,” Warren said. “There is not another single action for the president to take by himself that would have such a profound effect on racial equity in this country.”
Both politicians acknowledged the role of the labor movement in moving the cause forward, telling advocates “there’s reason to be encouraged.”
“When we first started championing student debt cancellation … the false and mischaracterizing narrative was that canceling student debt would only benefit white graduate students who went to universities,” Pressley said. “And that is not true. This nearly $2 trillion crisis is universal.”
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