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Biden angers AOC, Warren and Schumer over refusal to cancel student debt

The president argued during a town hall that he had other tools to provide those in student loan debt some relief

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 17 February 2021 18:22 GMT
Key moments from President Biden's first town hall
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President Biden is facing backlash from his progressive allies like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren after he refused to commit to canceling more than $10,000 in student debt during a CNN town hall event on Tuesday night.

“The case against student loan forgiveness is looking shakier by the day. We’ve got the *Senate Majority Leader* on board to forgive $50k. Biden’s holding back, but many of the arguments against it just don’t hold water on close inspection,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “We can and should do it. Keep pushing!”

“Entire generations of working class kids were encouraged to go into more debt under the guise of elitism. This is wrong,” she added.

On Tuesday night, the president began a trip through Wisconsin to rally support for his coronavirus relief proposals and kicked things off with a town hall event with CNN in Milwaukee. One member of the audience said she desperately needed student loan relief and asked Biden if he would support canceling $50,000 in student debt.

“I understand the impact of debt, and it can be debilitating,” Mr. Biden said. “I am prepared to write off the $10,000 debt but not [$50,000], because I don’t think I have the authority to do it.”

He also argued that it didn’t make sense to cancel everyone’s debt uniformly, since bailing out students who attended elite universities might would drain resources from other education initiatives.

“It depends on the idea that I say to a community, ‘I’m going to forgive the billions of dollars of debt for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn ... Is that going to be forgiven, rather than use that money to provide for early education to provide for young children who come from disadvantaged circumstances?” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren also challenged the president to do more following these comments, writing in a statement that “it’s time to act.”

“An ocean of student loan debt is holding back 43 million borrowers and disproportionately weighing down Black and Brown Americans,” the statement reads. “Cancelling $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help close the racial wealth gap, benefit the 40% of borrowers who do not have a college degree, and help stimulate the economy. It’s time to act. We will keep fighting.”

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