President Joe Biden is reportedly close to announcing a plan to forgive a certain amount of student loan debt. The details of the plan triggered criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
What is Biden planning?
The White House is finalizing a plan to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Americans who earn $150,000 per year or less would qualify for the full amount of forgiveness, while married couples who earn $300,000 would qualify for up to $20,000 of forgiveness if each spouse owes at least $10,000 in student loan debt.
The White House has been deliberating the plan for months and was scheduled to announce it as early as this weekend. But, according to the Post, the White House delayed those plans because of the latest mass killing in Texas.
Importantly, the plan is not solidified, and could change still. "No decisions have been made yet — but as a reminder no one has been required to pay a single dime of student loans since the president took office," said White House spokesman Vedant Patel.
Biden would enact the plan through executive order. Student loan debt cancelation would not pass Congress because only a minority of lawmakers (although that number is growing) support student loan debt cancelation. Still, if Biden took executive action, it would be immediately challenged in court, perhaps leaving borrowers in limbo for several years.
The current outstanding student loan debt liability is $1.6 trillion. Biden's plan would wipe out the total balance for approximately one-third of borrowers.
How must does the plan cost?
While the exact details of the plan remain unknown, estimates from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan think tank, suggest canceling $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower would cost taxpayers at least $230 billion.
The CRFB believes such a plan would mostly benefit wealthier Americans ("those in the top half of the income spectrum"), worsen inflation, and ultimately leave the major problem of college tuition prices unsolved.
What was the reaction?
Democrats reacted with dismay that Biden is planning to cancel only $10,000 of debt, while Republicans expressed outrage that any debt at all would be forgiven.
Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, said that "canceling $10,000 in student loan debt is like pouring a bucket of ice water on a forest fire."
"Ten thousand dollars in cancellation would be a slap in the face," Johnson added in a statement that was retweeted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "President Biden, it’s not about whether you can do it; it’s about whether or not you have the will to do it."
Journalist Marissa Higgins agreed, "I am so frustrated and disappointed with the White House’s apparent decision on student loans. 10k if you make under 150k. That’s it. After ALL of this organizing and so many appeals from marginalized people. This will not get people to the polls or more importantly, help them."
Democratic politician Nina Turner even claimed, "Only canceling $10k in student loans is extremely inequitable."
On the other hand, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) described Biden's plan as a "student loan transfer."
"Why should a waitress who didn't attend college pay the student loan debt of a lawyer making $300,000? This is exactly what will happen under Biden's student loan transfer plan," Cotton said. "There's no such thing as student loan 'forgiveness.' There's only transferring the debt from those who took the loans (and benefitted) to those who didn't attend college or responsibly paid off their debts."