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Democrats Can Find Money for War But Not the Student Loan Crisis

Student loan forgiveness can mobilize millions of younger voters, but the Biden administration and Congress plan to do nothing about it

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. President Joe Biden at the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 17, 2022. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

I am fascinated by what Democratic leaders continue to believe are good ideas.

When I saw the Speaker of the House recite a poem penned by Bono about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, I laughed because she seemed so impressed with herself for this well meaning but ridiculous gesture. It reminded me of her taking a knee while wearing kente cloth in 2020 minus the one caveat: at least the Ukrainians are getting money out of this Congress.

That is not to dismiss or discount their struggle, but it does speak to the reality that somehow the American government has money for war but finds every excuse to not fund anything else. Somehow, they think the people will show up to support them anyway. Pelosi recently went to the White House asking for a slogan to campaign around for the midterm elections and suggested “Democrats deliver.” She was apparently then told by White House staffers that the slogan had already been poll tested and flopped.

It’s easy to see why: Democrats have delivered on some things, but not most of what they campaigned on during the last major election.

They find all of this money for more war but place limits on police reform, child tax credits that curb poverty, higher wages to combat inflation, climate change legislation to prevent more massive death and suffering, and one of my favorite topics for personal reasons, student loan forgiveness. Some of these initiatives were at least given the opportunity to be failed by this Congress. But in the case of student loans, where congressional lack of action continues to frustrate the hell out of me, perhaps it’s time for the Biden administration to listen to some members of Congress (including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer) and use executive authority to cancel student loans.

Unfortunately, this White House can’t even make up its mind about another extension on payments.

As of now, federal student loan payments are set to return on May 1st. The White House has been both pushed to extend the moratorium and to finally take executive action on canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt — a campaign pledge Biden made during his 2020 presidential run.

Earlier this month, Klain told the “Pod Save America” podcast that Biden would likely extend the freeze on debt collection. Additionally, Education Department officials dropped a separate extension hint by instructing companies that manage federal student loans to hold off on sending required notices to borrowers about their payments starting. But as for the issue of whether Biden has the executive authority to cancel debt, Klain said, “That’s something we’re going to deal with later on,” he said.

They’ve been late on that memo on President Biden’s legal authority for some time now.

When asked about their position on extension, a White House spokesperson told Politico via statement last Friday they did not have any update on whether the payment pause would be extended.

Meanwhile, private student lenders are lobbying to get the Biden administration to restart federal student loan payments as the pandemic-related moratorium continues to hurt their bottom line.

SoFi, which has so much money that it could put its name on the stadium that recently hosted the Super Bowl, told investors in early March that the Biden administration’s last extension of the payment freeze reduced the company’s profits by $20 million to $25 million in the first quarter of 2022. They claim the pause is wasteful and unfair to borrowers that don’t need it.

Anthony Noto, the CEO of SoFi, actually had the gall to tweet Nancy Pelosi to suspend the payment pause and use it to pay for the Covid relief package.

“.@SpeakerPelosi we know you & @POTUS are disappointed that the spending bill sacrificed the pandemic relief @POTUS wanted,” Noto tweeted. “Consider funding the aid with the $35 billion it will cost if @POTUS needlessly extends the student loan moratorium thru ‘22.”

Considering how many Americans are still dropping dead in the third year of a plague that is presently ravaging China and several countries in Europe, this line of thinking is as grotesque as it is asinine. Money to deal with a plague should not be tied to any other issue much less student loans. I think I speak for a significant portion of the student loan borrowing community when I say fuck this company trying to further burden people for their profit margins.

It’s a shame Pelosi didn’t respond with a similar stance and tagged the Biden administration in.

Who do the Democrats need most to show up in November? Black people in droves. Enough Latino support to curb GOP gains. Young people, overwhelmingly.

If the White House and Democrats in Congress want to mobilize people for the midterms, they need to be doing things that actually benefit their voters.

In the case of rising gas prices, Axios reported that the White House considered sending gas cards to Americans until they got pushback from members of the president’s own party in Congress.

“However, gas cards being sent to the American people is not seriously under consideration. It is not an administratively feasible solution and the Biden administration is not considering this as a serious option to help American families,” White House spokesperson Vedant Patel explained.

The rich, detached old people running this nation into the ground often love to boast about American exceptionalism but somehow when it comes to helping its citizens in need, so many actions are never feasible.

Similar logic has been employed to the student loan debt. How it’s not legal. How the Supreme Court will strike it down. How it will benefit all of the Americans who don’t need the assistance than those that do.

It’s such bullshit considering the Supreme Court, coming historical additions or not, is actively tossing precedent in the trash in order to turn the country into Gilead. Biden should not only extend the student loan payment pause, his people should finally release the memo giving him the authority to cancel student loan debt. If they keep failing at everything else with this Congress, the least Biden could do is show some muscle here.

Helping folks ease their financial burdens sounds like a fairly reasonable motivation tool, but you know, if they want to go with poems, ambivalence, and silence, let that earn them the fate they deserve.

The same goes for actually being dumb enough to call on voters to save them at the polls right as they have to start paying their student loans again.

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