Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Outrage! Biden to Cancel $10,000 in Student Debt for Those Making Less Than $125,000 or Less Per Year

This is fucking outrageous.

My grad school loans are just now nearly paid off --- 23 years after I finished my Ph.D. at UCSB. Is Old Joe going to make the debt relief retroactive, for the millions upon millions of judicious and hard-working Americans who made good on the debt they took out? 

Completely un-American, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed debt cancellation as "socialist."

At the Los Angeles Times, "Biden will cancel $10,000 of student debt for many borrowers":

Individuals earning less than $125,000 annually would qualify for relief and those who received Pell grants could receive an additional $10,000.

WASHINGTON — President Biden moved Wednesday to cancel $10,000 in student debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 annually while extending a pause on loan repayments for all borrowers through the end of the year, all as part of a broader effort to overhaul the federal system and ease financial burdens for the middle class.

Biden’s action will also make people who received Pell grants to help cover the cost of college eligible for up to $20,000 in loan relief. And a new income-based repayment cap will ensure borrowers pay no more than 5% of their monthly income toward their undergraduate loans as long as they aren’t behind on payments. Some analysts believe that change may prove even more significant than the debt forgiveness.

Lamenting that “an entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt” because the cost of higher education has skyrocketed in recent years, Biden described his action as a matter of economic fairness that will “provide more breathing room for people” and boost America’s competitiveness.

“My plan is responsible and fair. It focuses the benefit on middle-class and working families. It helps both current and future borrowers and it will fix a badly broken system,” Biden said. “It’s about opportunity. It’s about giving people a fair shot.”

The overall package, which Biden said will benefit 43 million Americans, is a win for activists who have pushed for such action as a matter of economic fairness. But the amount of debt Biden has decided to erase is less than many activists had sought, complicating an issue the White House hopes will boost Democrats in the midterm election and drawing criticism from both parties. While progressives had hoped Biden would go even further, Republicans and some moderate Democrats bristled at the price-tag, asserting that spending an estimated $400-600 billion to cover the forgiven loans would exacerbate inflation.

“This announcement is gallingly reckless — with the national debt approaching record levels and inflation surging, it will make both worse,” said Maya McGuinness, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington organization that opposes the student loan forgiveness program.

Biden, who returned from a two-week vacation Wednesday morning, had vowed to act before Aug. 31, when the latest pandemic-driven moratorium on federal student loan payments runs out. He said this extension would be the last one and that payments would resume in January 2023.

“It’s time for the payments to resume,” he said.

President Trump first suspended payments in March 2020, and Biden has granted four extensions. So far, the suspensions have cost the federal government more than $100 billion. More than 40 million Americans owe a collective $1.6 trillion in federal student loans.

A fight over student loans could slow the Democrats’ recent momentum and threaten their coalition’s cohesion. The president and his party have seen their poll numbers rise in recent months, buoyed by a series of events that have altered the political landscape in their favor.

The Supreme Court’s late June decision overturning Roe vs. Wade alienated women across political lines. The high-profile hearings further illuminating Trump’s key role inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection received broad television coverage and hardened perceptions of Republicans as the more extreme party. And Democrats’ passage of three major bills — a climate, prescription drug and tax overhaul, new funding to boost domestic manufacturing of microchips and enhanced healthcare for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals on the battlefield — has shown the public that Biden is far from a do-nothing president.

Before the abortion decision, the Jan. 6 hearings and the flurry of new legislation, some senior Biden aides believed significant student loan debt forgiveness was one of the few measures that could excite the Democratic base and help the party survive a tough election cycle. Despite public and private pressure from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Biden has long questioned whether forgiving as much as $50,000 in debt would be prudent.

Schumer spoke by phone with Biden on Tuesday night “to make a final push to the president to cancel as much student loan debt as he can,” according to a Democrat familiar with the conversation. On Wednesday, Schumer and Warren sought to quell criticism from the left, issuing a joint statement heralding Biden’s final decision as a historic first step.

“With the flick of a pen, President Biden has taken a giant step forward in addressing the student debt crisis by cancelling significant amounts of student debt for millions of borrowers. The positive impacts of this move will be felt by families across the country, particularly in minority communities, and is the single most effective action that the President can take on his own to help working families and the economy,” their statement said. “No president or Congress has done more to relieve the burden of student debt and help millions of Americans make ends meet. Make no mistake, the work — our work — will continue as we pursue every available path to address the student debt crisis, help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers, and keep our economy growing.”

Some activists also cheered the announcement. “Today, with President Biden’s announcement, 12 million American borrowers have had their educational debts erased,” said Melissa Byrne, executive director of We the 45 Million, a group that advocates for student debt forgiveness. “This is a historic first step — establishing the clear authority that the president has to cancel student debt — but this should just be the beginning.”

But key Democratic constituencies, including young voters, Black Americans and civil rights groups like the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, have pushed hard for more forgiveness, and may be disappointed.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, had blasted Biden in a statement Tuesday, stating that if reports of the president having settled on $10,000 in debt forgiveness are correct, “we’ve got a problem,” likening the decision to past federal policies that have been detrimental to Black people...

I took out zero loans for my Bachelor's degree. I worked, and hard. At Fresno State, where I took my B.A. political science, I worked 35 hours a week pumping gas at the local Chevon station, not far from my dad's house. It was 2:00 to 9:00pm Sundays through Thurdays, and 4:00pm to Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. I started that job at $4.25 miniumum wage, only getting bumped once with a raise to $4.75. On my days off I'd stay on campus all day, after classes, going to the cafeteria, the library, and the student union to hang out and study. My time was completely taken up and I had little for nightlife. I met my future wife in my last year, and she moved to Santa Barbara with me (before we were married) after I was accepted into the Ph.D. program. 

I paid my dues. 

In graduate school I ended up taking out about $65,000 to $70,000 total. I could have borrowed much, much more, but I was careful. I worked weekends (again at a Chevron station in downtown Santa Barbara) my first year in the program. I could've borrowed more, but my (future) wife and I didn't want to get too deep into debt. We had no idea I'd get a full four-year ride starting in my second year, the U.C. Regents Fellowship, which paid for everything. That was merit based, by the way. I fucking earned that fellowship by kicking ass that first year. I have great memories and wouldn't take back a thing.

I know, though, my story is like so many others, folks who themselves and their families scrimped and saved just for the chance to attend college, much less a Ph.D program. *That's the American way.* If Republicans don't campaigh the hell out of this issue they're bloody stupid. LOTS of folks will be pissed that their working- and middle-class tax dollars are going toward debt bailouts for college graduates who make more than they do, and will make way more in the future. 

It's class warfare. It's a fundamental violation of society's social contract, and bitterly unfair. 

Still more at that top link.