Politics /

Democrats Divided Over Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

New Hampshire Rep Says Change Should 'go through the legislative process'

Democrats in close midterm races have publicly come out against President Biden’s plan to forgive student loans.

“While there’s no doubt that a college education should be about opening opportunities, waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to the millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet,” said U.S. Rep Tim Ryan, who is running in a hotly contested race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat.

Ryan agrees with many that higher education is too expensive, but says the government has larger priorities on which to focus, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden from Maine is another Democrats who is standing up against Biden’s student loan forgiveness proposal.

“This decision by the president is out of touch with what the majority of the American people want from the White House, which is leadership to address the most immediate challenges the country is facing,” he said.

Biden’s plan would forgive up to $10,000 to borrowers who did not receive Pell Grants, and up to $20,000 for borrowers who did attend college or university on a Pell Grant.

The plan would only apply to individuals earning less than $125,000 per year, would seek to pause student loan payments through the end of December 2022, and would cap repayment of undergraduate loans at 5 percent of a borrower’s monthly income.

Both Ryan and Golden are in close races with Republican contenders. A recent Emerson College poll shows Ryan trailing Ohio’s J.D. Vance by only three-points. Golden is in a tight re-election campaign against former Rep. Bruce Poliquin in “the most conservative Democratic-held House district in the country,” according to the Bangor Daily News.

New Hampshire Democrat Rep. Chris Peppas — also navigating a close election contest — came out against Biden’s proposed action, stating that it “sidesteps Congress and our oversight and fiscal responsibilities.” The New York Post reported.

Peppas added, “Any plan to address student debt should go through the legislative process, and it should be more targeted and paid for so it doesn’t add to the deficit.”

Other members of the president’s party, however, stand with Biden and his executive action to fulfill a campaign promise by providing financial relief to U.S. student debt-holders.

“President Biden’s bold action is a strong step in Democrats’ fight to expand access to higher education and empower every American to reach fulfillment. By delivering historic targeted student debt relief to millions of borrowers, more working families will be able to meet their kitchen table needs as they continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. Importantly, this action will help those most in need, easing a financial burden disproportionately harming women and people of color.”

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, a proponent of the plan, hailed it as “the single most effective action that the president can take on his own to help working families and the economy.”

While critics have also stated Biden does not have authority to cancel student loan debt absent congressional approval, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel published a detailed memo explaining why the Biden administration believes it has legal authority to proceed.

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