Cancel more student loans for ‘every chance’ in 2022
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has warned that President Joe Biden should do more on canceling student debt if Democrats hope to have “a chance” in the 2022 midterm elections.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents New York’s 14th congressional district, said the new yorker in an interview published Monday that the president’s “hesitancy” on the issue was having a demoralizing effect on a key electoral bloc.
His comments come as Democrats face a crucial midterm election in November, with Republicans aiming to recapture the House of Representatives and Senate and then potentially thwart Biden’s agenda.
Some Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have urged Biden to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower through of executive action.
The president expressed skepticism about the power needed to do so, but Ocasio-Cortez reiterated that Biden should take action on it.
She suggested the Biden administration had “a reluctance to use executive power.”
“The president has not used his executive power to the extent that some would say is necessary,” she said.
“One of the most impactful things President Biden can do is pursue student loan forgiveness. It’s entirely within his power,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.
“It’s really not a conversation about helping a small group of people. It’s really a key action politically. I think it’s also a key action economically,” said- she declared.
Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Biden’s apparent reluctance to act on student debt forgiveness through executive action could impact the midterms.
“And I can’t stress how the Biden administration’s reluctance to pursue student loan forgiveness has demoralized a very critical voting bloc that the President, House, and Senate need to have any chance of preserve one of our majorities,” she said.
Millennials (those aged 25-40) and Gen Z (which includes children as well as adults aged 18-24) are a growing demographic and many of them have student debt . Polls have also shown that these groups are generally in favor of canceling student debt.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is a member of the progressive “Squad,” said she doesn’t believe there’s “any guarantee” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) would endorse legislation “that will significantly and materially improve the lives of workers”, admitting it was a “dismal assessment”.
“The president has a responsibility to look at the tools he has,” she said.
Action on student debt
The Biden administration has touted that it has paid off about $15 billion in student debt to more than 675,000 borrowers.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said Newsweek Feb. 5: “As we continue to provide immediate relief to borrowers struggling with debt, we’re also making permanent changes that reduce debt and make college more affordable.”
Nonetheless, Biden has been under pressure to do more. In April, he asked the Department of Education to prepare a memo on its ability to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower through executive action.
However, this memo was never released in an unredacted form, despite more than 80 lawmakers demanding its release in January 2022.
Recent polls have shown Republicans leading Democrats heading into the midterm elections, which could make Ocasio-Cortez’s warning all the more concerning. If the GOP regains control of either house of Congress, it could stall President Biden’s agenda for the two years leading up to the 2024 presidential election.
Newsweek asked the White House and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office for comment.