President Joe Biden is currently exploring the idea of canceling federal student loan debt, awaiting memos on how much he can do legally.
The Biden White House tasked Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to explore the issue, effectively stalling immediate action on the issue as activists increasingly push for him cancel the debt.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Biden has not made a decision on the issue either way, as he is waiting for the policy memos.
“Hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks, and then he’ll look at that legal authority; he’ll look at the policy issues around that and he’ll make a decision,” Klain said in an April 1 interview with Politico.
In February, Biden opposed the idea of canceling $50,000 in debt during a CNN town hall.
“I will not make that happen,” he said to a questioner at the event.
But Biden expressed support for the idea of $10,000 in student debt forgiveness.
“I’m prepared to write off a $10,000 debt, but not 50,” he said. “Because I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing the pen.”
Biden also spoke about canceling student debt for school teachers or volunteer activity.
But activists in favor of canceling $50,000 in student debt per person, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), continue pushing Biden to take action.
Warren detailed data last week showing more than 36 million people would be entirely freed from student debt if Biden canceled $50,000 in debt for individual students.
Both Biden and former President Donald Trump paused student debt accruing additional interest during the pandemic, but did not cancel the debt entirely. But Warren wants Biden to take more drastic action.
“America is facing a student loan time bomb that when it explodes, could throw millions of families over a financial cliff,” Warren said in a Senate hearing on student loan debt last week.
She said the average student loan borrower faced $400 a month payments to the government and expressed sympathy for young Americans struggling to repay their debt.
“They’re crushed by debt; they’re hounded by servicers and debt collectors,” she said. “It is a massive drag on our economy, and we need a new approach.”
During the hearing, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) expressed his concerns about fairness.
“Why student debt? Why not credit card debt? Why not automobile loan debt?” he asked. “Why not mortgage debt if we’re going to forgive debt? How do we be fair to all Americans?”
Kennedy also challenged activists for citing racial equity as a reason for canceling student debt.
“How equitable is it to ask taxpayers who haven’t gone to college to pay for those who have gone to college?” he asked.