Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) expressed a sense of urgency for the Biden administration to address student loan debt in a significant way by forgiving more than $10,000 per student after President Joe Biden’s failure during Tuesday’s CNN town hall to commit to doing so.
“Very wealthy people already have a student loan forgiveness program. It’s called their parents,” Ocasio Cortez said on Wednesday amid reports of the Biden administration remaining relatively unclear on its position concerning student loan debt forgiveness.
“The idea that millionaires and billionaires are willingly letting their kids drown in federal student loans & that’s why we can’t go big on forgiveness is about as silly as it sounds,” she said, identifying $30,000 as the “average” student loan debt in the United States.
“Many won’t fully feel $10k in forgiveness until after a Biden presidency is over, when they’ve spent 10 years paying off the other $20k+,” she said, encouraging Democrats to advance policy “that people can feel ASAP.”
“We need to go big,” she added:
Average student loan debt in the US is ~$30k (LOTS have more)
Many won’t fully feel $10k in forgiveness until after a Biden presidency is over, when they’ve spent 10 years paying off the other $20k+
Dems should be championing policy that people can feel ASAP. We need to go big.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 17, 2021
Biden made waves during an appearance on a CNN town hall on Tuesday, telling audience members he is “prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not $50,000.”
“We need student loan forgiveness beyond the potential $10,000 your administration has proposed. We need at least a $50,000 minimum. What will you do to make that happen?” an audience member asked.
“I will not make that happen,” Biden said before offering alternative ideas, such as offering free community college:
From the Biden town hall on CNN last night, this questioner asked about canceling $50,000 worth of student debt:
“What will you do to make that happen?”
“I will not make that happen.” pic.twitter.com/Y7auUT2YQZ
— The Recount (@therecount) February 17, 2021
“And I think any family making under $125,000, whose kids go to a state university they get into, that should be free, as well,” he said.
“And the thing I do in terms of student debt that’s accumulated is provide for changing the existing system now for debt forgiveness if you engage in volunteer activity,” Biden continued. “For example, if you were — if you’re teaching school, after five years, you would have $50,000 of your debt forgiven.”
Biden later explained he does not believe he has the authority to erase $50,000 in student debt “by signing with a pen.”
However, the White House quickly pivoted, clarifying that the administration is continuing to examine ways to cancel up to $50,000 in existing student loan debt.
“He was reiterating his previous stated position, which is that he doesn’t favor $50,000 in student loan relief without limitations,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters:
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 17, 2021
Biden “will ask them [the Department of Justice] to conduct a legal review of his authority to act on executive action in conjunction with a policy review from his Domestic Policy Council on how executive action debt relief, if any, should be targeted,” she added.