Joe Biden’s administration is finally taking action on student loans as it faces mounting pressure to do something to prove to voters that it can take tangible action to improve their lives before the 2022 midterms later this year.
The US Department of Education on Tuesday announced that it would open a review of borrowing practices aimed at “addressing historical failures in the administration of the federal student loan programs” which it said would result in immediate forgiveness of student loans for 40,000 Americans.
The review is also expected to result in the department granting at least three years of loan credit to more than 3.6 million other borrowers.
“Today, the Department of Education will begin to remedy years of administrative failures that effectively denied the promise of loan forgiveness to certain borrowers enrolled in IDR plans. These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a news release.
“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it’s certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they’re eligible for,” added the secretary.
The move is significant in no small part due to the growing concerns of everyone from the Democratic Party’s furthest-left wing to the centre regarding the party’s chances of maintaining control of one or both houses of Congress after the midterm elections in the fall.
Student loan cancellation has been viewed since the beginning of the Biden presidency as a sort of low-hanging fruit for the president; many Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, believe that the president has the authority to cancel all or part of America’s massive $1.61 trillion federal student loan debt. The prospect of executive action has long been seen by those same Democrats as far more likely than the chances of getting student loan relief legislation passed through the 50-50 Senate, whee no Republicans have shown a meaningful willingness to support it.
Complicating the issue is the president’s own campaign promise to cancel student loan debt for millions of Americans, which the White House has explained as actually meant to mean that Mr Biden would support legislation by Congress to cancel up to a set amount of federal student loan debt for individual Americans.
Rather than pursue that route the White House has instead opted to continue the pause on student debt repayments throughout the entire first year of Mr Biden’s presidency and throughout part of 2022; speculation is now growing over whether the president will keep extending the pause or resume it right in time for repayments to begin before the 2022 midterms.
Progressives such as Congressman Ro Khanna of California have called on Mr Biden to take some significant action on the issue as well as address climate change before the midterm elections as a means of stemming the bleeding of the presidents’ support among young Americans, who are according to polling abandoning the president the fastest of almost any demographic.
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