“Tick tock, tick tock, Mr. President.”
That’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s message to President Joe Biden on the federal government’s pause on student loan payments, which is set to expire in September.
“Thirty million Americans will have a bill coming due in a couple months,” Warren said in a news conference Tuesday alongside Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The size of the payments is the size of their rent … groceries, child care. Do they pay the student loan debt or do they make their car payments? People will see their wages garnished. Even Social Security checks get garnished.”
The Democrats, following up on a letter sent to the White House last month, again urged Biden to extend the pause past its September cutoff to at least March 31, 2022. They also repeated calls on Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt for millions of borrowers, arguing the move would not only boost recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic but also spur growth and equity in an economy that’s disproportionately impacted people of color.
“Precise, intentional policy violence” against Black and brown Americans, Pressley argued, has long forced them to “take on higher rates of student loan debt for just a chance at the same degree as our white peers.”
She called canceling up to $50,000 in debt “one of the most effective ways [Biden] can provide sweeping relief to families … and lay the groundwork for a truly just and equitable recovery.”
Letting the pause expire before next spring would be “unfair, harsh and cruel,” Schumer said.
“This pause has actually shown how important canceling student loan debt is to borrowers and our economy,” Schumer added. “All President Biden has to do is flick his pen and sign it.”
In a recent interview, Warren told MassLive that if the feds extend the pause and cancel debt, it would “completely eliminate student loan debt for 85% of the people who currently carry it. And for the 15% of people who remain, it gives the Department of Education a chance to get them into the right repayment programs.”
The Biden administration has said it’s open to canceling up to $10,000 in debt.
The $50,000 long pushed by Warren, Pressley and Schumer “maximizes racial justice and closes the racial wealth gap the most,” Warren said. “It would help nearly everyone who tried to go to college and it didn’t work out — the 40% of student loan borrowers who do not have a college diploma and are truly struggling hard with student loan debt and would help a huge number of public school teachers and firefighters and people who want a chance to get out there and start their own businesses. It’s the right number, it’s where a lot of people intersect that we could transform an entire generation.”
The majority of young adults who attended college took on debt, including student loans. Prior to the pandemic, the typical monthly payment was between $200 and $299 a month, according to a Federal Reserve study on the economic well-being of households in 2018.
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