Sen. Bob Menendez calls on Biden to use his authority to forgive $50,000 in debt
“This would unleash the economic power of millions and drive the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic,” Sen. Menendez wrote.
Senator Bob Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell met at Montclair State University to highlight the growing student debt issue in the United States, and urging the president to seriously consider using his authority to forgive up to $50,000 in student loans.
President Joe Biden’s stance on loan forgiveness — that he will only forgive up to $10,000 per borrower — has garnered continued pressure from politicians and national advocacy groups urging the president to use his authority to cancel a large sum — or the entirety of student loan debt held by millions of Americans.
He has stated that he doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally absolve this debt without a vote from Congress, but proponents of student debt forgiveness insist he does.
Menendez is one of these advocates.
“Today we’re calling on President Biden to use his authority to forgive up to $50,000 dollars in student loan debt. For many Americans and especially people of color, crippling student loan debt has turned the dream of a college education into a financial nightmare that haunts them for decades,” he said on April 12.
While in the last year, the federal government has taken unprecedented steps to relieve the financial burden for millions of people during a global pandemic and recession — from stimulus checks, supplemental unemployment checks, and a revised tax credit — the student debt crisis goes back decades, and has accumulated to a point where there’s no going back without serious action.
The total accumulation of student debt in the U.S. is currently $1.71 trillion, and only subtle measures relative to the total sum have been made.
The Biden administration, via Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, recently forgave $1 billion in student loans for defrauded students caught in for-profit college schemes.
But the progress, Menendez says, far outweighs the accumulating debt and the inflated cost of education.
“For far too long incomes have failed to keep pace with the soaring cost — not just of education, but also healthcare, housing, childcare, and other basic living expenses. When you are barely keeping your head above water, it is a hell of a lot harder to make a dent in your student loan principle. Meanwhile, federal investments in College affordability have failed to keep pace with rising tuition bills,” Menendez continued.
Sen. Bob Menendez: "Today, we're calling on President Biden to use his authority to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt." pic.twitter.com/qEAISDg8WE
— The Hill (@thehill) April 12, 2021
Legislators in Congress have only accomplished small measures as well.
In mid-March, Menendez, along with Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, said that the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package will make it easier for President Joe Biden to make considerable moves on student debt.
It’s the “easter egg” that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referenced in her last Instagram Live deep-dive into the Covid relief package. While the package didn’t provide student loan cancellation, it did make some key changes for college students and student debt payers.
College students are going to receive stimulus payments they did not receive in 2020, but there is also an additional tax provision that dictates that “if” student loans get cancelled in the future, it makes loan forgiveness tax-free, thereby preventing borrowers from paying for loans that have been cancelled
It's tucked away within the bill and doesn’t affect anyone’s loans now, but Ocasio-Cortez indicated that it has the capacity to do what it’s intended to do if mobilizers make their voices heard, and if legislators like Menendez and the others pushing Biden to act don’t let up.
2/ This would unleash the economic power of millions and drive the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic.@POTUS can forgive student loans without Congress and he shouldn’t wait any longer!
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) April 12, 2021
While President Joe Biden has previously said that he is opposed to substantial student loan forgiveness, a recent move by the president indicates that he may be open to further consideration.
Last month Biden asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to compile a memo on his legal authority to forgive student loan debt. Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, said the president will make his decision “within the next few weeks” after he receives the relevant memos, including one he has requested from the Justice Department.
The Justice Department memo request will likely delve into how such a cancellation will fare in the courts, as it would cause pushback from debt collectors, resulting in a drawn-out legal battle that will further hinder the goal of student loan forgiveness.
“This would unleash the economic power of millions and drive the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic,” Menendez wrote on Monday. “@POTUS can forgive student loans without Congress and he shouldn’t wait any longer!”