House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met a swift reaction on Wednesday after claiming that President Joe Biden did not have the power to write off federal student loan debt on his own, a position that puts her at odds with legal experts and prominent members of his own party.
“You can’t have a worse message than this, both bogus and politically suicidal.”
—The Debt Collective
“People think the President of the United States has the power to write off the debt. It doesn’t,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) Said. noted during a press briefing. “He can postpone, he can delay, but he doesn’t have that power. It has to be an act of Congress.”
Progressive activists who have been press tirelessly Biden cancels student loan debt by immediately rejected executive order.
The Collectif Dette, a syndicate of debtors urging Biden canceled all of the $ 1.8 trillion in federal student loan debt, accused the Speaker of the House of repeating “right-wing lies” against debt cancellation.
“The truth is, Biden can write off 100% of your federal student loans with a signature. We’ve drafted the documents for him to do that,” the group said. tweeted, designating a draft decree that he published last month.
Last September, Eileen Connor, Deanne Loonin and Toby Merrill of Project on Predatory Student Lending argued in a letter (pdf) that, contrary to what Pelosi asserts, the President has the power “to order the Secretary of the United States Department of Education … to exercise his existing authority to cancel the federal student loan debt on a broad or categorical basis. “
“We have consulted the legislative and regulatory framework governing federal student loan programs administered by the Department of Education, as well as the framework and interpretations controlling the budget structure of these programs,” the legal experts wrote. “We conclude that such broad or categorical debt cancellation would constitute a legal and permissible exercise of the Secretary’s authority under applicable law.”
After questioning whether Biden had the power to unilaterally write off federal student loan debt, Pelosi went on to say to entertain talking points used by those who oppose the very idea of forgiving student debt.
“. [do] You don’t want to go to college but you are paying taxes to forgive someone else’s obligations, “Pelosi said.” You might not be happy about this. “
In response, New Republic columnist Natalie Shure argued that Pelosi echoed “a fundamentally reactionary and individualistic argument that serves to undermine progressive taxation and social spending.”
The debt collective added that “you couldn’t have a worse message than this, both bogus and politically suicidal.”
Pelosi’s comments came just 24 hours after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) Had reiterated their call for Biden to write off at least $ 50,000 in student loan debt per borrower, a step Schumer says insisted the president has the power to take without the approval of Congress.
“In no time at all,” Schumer said in a speech on Tuesday, “President Biden could give a fresh start to tens of millions of borrowers who are drowning in debt.”
The two Democratic senators also urged the Biden administration to extend a moratorium on student loan repayments, which is due to expire in late September. The Department of Education recently estimated that the pause on interest accumulation alone saved student borrowers around $ 4.8 billion per month.
“Tick tock, tick tock”, Warren noted at a press conference on Tuesday. “Over 30 million Americans will have a bill due in about two months. The payment break is coming to an end … The amount of those payments for many borrowers is the amount of their rent, their car payments. , grocery store, child care. “
Earlier this year, Biden directed the Department of Education to write a note on the president’s legal authority to cancel student loan debt. The document has yet to be released, leading activists to characterize the memo request as “paralyze“tactical.
In recent months, Biden’s education department has canceled about $ 3 billion in federal student loan debt for borrowers with disabilities and those who have been defrauded by private for-profit colleges. Now, advocates argue, Biden should go one step further by writing off all federal student loan debt.
“Our communities need help now, and canceling student debt is something the Biden administration can do today, without going through our dysfunctional Congress and seeking out still elusive bipartisan support,” Braxton Brewington , spokesperson for Debt Collective, wrote for Vogue teens last month. “Eliminating student debt would be a huge upward stimulus for our economy, creating millions of new jobs, speeding up home buying and providing additional pandemic relief to communities still recovering from Covid-19 hardships . “