White House is under pressure from the left to cancel some or all student loan debt to stave off bruising midterms
The Utah senator issued a press release on Tuesday announcing a bill that would bar the federal government from canceling any student loan debt, which the conservative lawmaker argued in a statement would be “unfair” to those who have paid off their loans.
“It makes no sense for the Biden Administration to cancel nearly $2 trillion in student loan debt. This decision would not only be unfair to those who already repaid their loans or decided to pursue alternative education paths, but it would be wildly inflationary at a time of already historic inflation,” he said.
“Democrats and Republicans alike have called on the President to not take this unwise step and pile more onto our $30 trillion national debt. And while the President’s legal authority in forgiving this debt is dubious at best, our bill would ensure that he would be prevented from taking action,” the senator continued.
His statement is factual to the degree that some conservative Democrats oppose the idea of cancelling student loan debt, but the idea happens to be supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a wide coalition of left-leaning lawmakers. Both Mr Schumer and more progressive members of his caucus like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been among those loudly calling for action for months.
A host of other Republican senators were signed on to the effort, according to statements included in Mr Romney’s press release, such as North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, and South Carolina’s Tim Scott.
Student loan debt in the United States presents a major financial burden for roughly 43 million Americans, according to the Education Data Initiative. In recent years the system has been described as predatory with increasing frequency, given the high interest rates on some loans which leave many paying far more than they initially borrowed and in some cases passing on debt to their children.
Some spend decades paying off loans, which have only become harder to pay off as the cost of college tuition has soared. The average student loan debt in the US hovers around $28,000 when both private and public borrowers are considered according to Forbes, and horror stories of people spending years trying to pay down debts only to still owe more than they started are not uncommon.
The Department of Education used a rule change earlier this year to cancel some federal student loans for about 40,000 people. Those who oppose the idea of canceling student loans via executive order point to rising inflation as an issue that would be exacerabted by such a move.
“Prices continue to soar, thanks in large part to government spending. Cancelling trillions of dollars in student debt would only exacerbate inflation and further harm the very individuals this administration claims to fight for,” Tim Scott said in the news release.
The Biden administration has repeatedly extended a pause on federal student loan payments since Joe Biden took office in January of 2021; the current pause is set to end in August. Federal student loan debt represents the vast bulk, but not the entirety, of Americans student debt.
The White House has signalled that a decision on the issue could come soon, with outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki declaring in late April that the move was “still on the table”.