Although he attempted to position himself as a unifying candidate, President Joe Biden gave his party’s liberal base some reason for optimism on certain issues — particularly partial or complete student loan forgiveness.
Recent reports, however, indicate that the issue is no longer a priority and is unlikely to be included in the Biden administration’s annual budget.
“I don’t agree”
Student loan relief has long been a central issue among many on the political left, with prominent elected officials and other figures pressing the president to wipe away up to $50,000 in individual debt with an executive order.
Biden hinted that he was unwilling to commit to such a large number, but that he might support a smaller amount of forgiveness, ultimately deferring to Congress to iron out the details.
In remarks last week, the president dismissed the notion that he would support blanket forgiveness for Americans with student loan debt.
During an interview with The New York Times, he said: “The idea that you go to Penn and you’re paying a total of 70,000 bucks a year and the public should pay for that? I don’t agree.”
A mixed bag
The remarks came after he expressed concern in February that wiping out $50,000 in student loan debt would disproportionately benefit students at “elite” private institutions.
Despite his stance on this issue, Biden’s domestic agenda gives left-wing Democrats some reason to be pleased.
After pushing through trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief, he is planning trillions more in a massive infrastructure proposal. He has also advanced the cause of amnesty for many undocumented immigrants.
Biden also appears largely undeterred by economic headwinds including fears of inflation as he pursues his expensive agenda. As far as priorities go, however, student loan forgiveness does not appear to be near the top.
The president’s apparent snub toward those supporters hoping to see their loan balances cleared might feel like a betrayal. Unlike more abstract social issues, however, this one could hit them in their wallets.