A leading Democrat intervened in a campaign for a massive forgiveness of student loans.
On the press conference House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DC, yesterday threw cold water on the argument that President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student loan debt through enforcement action. Pelosi said in no uncertain terms that Biden “does not have” that kind of power. Pelosi said Biden can postpone or defer payments on student loans, as he did under the executive order, but has no authority to impose broad student loan forgiveness.
Pelosi argued that the cancellation of the student loan could only be accomplished through legislative action by Congress. But at the same time, she made widespread political arguments against the massive write-offs of student loans, suggesting that taxpayers would not want their money to be used to pay off other people’s debts.
Supporters of student loan abolition criticized Pelosi for her comments, arguing that they only serve to support the arguments of more moderate and conservative opponents of student debt forgiveness. “It’s terrifying to hear Speaker Pelosi blast right-wing messages and do Republican political work for them,” said Braxton Brewington, a spokesman for the Debt Collective, an organization that advocates the massive cancellation of student loans. “In truth, under the Higher Education Act of 1965, President Biden does indeed have the legal authority to annul federal student loan debts by executive action – this has been confirmed countless times by some of the nation’s greatest lawyers, as well as Speaker Pelosi’s Colleague, Senator Warren.” Indeed, Warren kept press conference this week, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts) to make this argument.
Pelosi’s comments do echo the arguments of opponents of widespread student loan forgiveness. The split in democratic ideas on this issue could serve as a cover for Biden administration officials who want to restrict any initiatives to write off student debt. Former Trump Administration Department of Education officials claimed this widespread student loan forgiveness is beyond the powers of the president under existing laws. The Biden administration is currently investigating the matter and legal due diligence is ongoing.
Equally troubling to advocates, however, were Pelosi’s comments on the usefulness of the broadest possible forgiveness of student loans. Although the speaker argued that only Congress could implement a massive student debt write-off, she simultaneously opposed the concept, echoing moods Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that writing off student loan debt would be unfair to other American taxpayers. Pelosi’s comments suggest that if Biden does not – or cannot – use executive measures to write off student debt, she may not support a House student loan forgiveness bill. This could doom the student loan debt cancellation movement, at least for the time being.
“The nationwide debate over student debt cancellation is long gone, and we are disappointed that we have to turn to it again today,” said Natalia Abrams, executive director of the student debt crisis, in a statement. “The president does have the legal authority to cancel student debt, ”she said, citing previous legal conclusions According to several student loan legal experts, the existing legislature provides the president with a solid foundation to write off student debt.
Members of the Pelosi faction quickly expressed their disagreement with her comments. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Chair of the Progressive Faction of Congress, tweeted: “The President has the power to cancel student debt. Now he must use it and deliver vital aid to millions of people across America. ” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Democratic Republic of Massachusetts) retweeted her footage press conference earlier this week, where she made an impassioned argument that canceling a student loan is a matter of racial justice.
Proponents of mass student loan forgiveness have pledged to push their way. “We will not let President Biden sit on the sidelines and leave millions of Americans crushed in debt when he has a chance to act,” Abrams said. “The president can – and should – take bold action to respond to the effects of the pandemic, stimulate economic downturns and close the racial wealth gap. We welcome Speaker Pelosi to join us in the growing movement to encourage him to do so. ”