Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren renew calls to cancel student debt

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Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren renewed their calls on Wednesday for President Joe Biden to cancel student debt. They joined labor leaders and borrowers for a roundtable organized by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

“This is an issue that impacts people from all walks of life,” Pressley said, responding to criticism that debt cancellation would benefit those who are already well-off. “For our seniors who cannot retire because they took out Parent PLUS loans and are still paying on those loans. For our young teachers who cannot pay the monthly minimum because they are also struggling to pay for childcare, for service workers who feel they will never recover because they are at fault.

The White House has long maintained that its ability to act is limited without congressional approval. Lawyers argue Biden could cancel student debt through an executive order. In early June, Biden canceled $5.8 billion in debt for half a million former students of the former For-profit Corinthian colleges. It was also said that he was considering a broader forgiveness of $10,000 per borrowerwho has not yet come.

Pressley and Warren want to see Biden relieve $50,000 per borrower, which Pressley called a racial justice issue on top of a labor issue. “Policies like redlining force us to take on higher student debt than our white peers just to try to get a college degree,” she said. “We were told that we live in a meritocracy. We have been told that education is the great equalizer. … It has only exacerbated and widened the racial wealth gap.

Pressley credited a diverse coalition, including unionized workers, for bringing the issue to the fore. “We owe it to the millions of unionized workers who have kept our country functioning during these unprecedented difficult times,” she said. “Cancellation of student debt is essential to any just and equitable economic recovery from this pandemic.”

Warren also framed the student debt crisis as a labor issue and stressed the importance of strong unions: “Unions are making the voices of working people heard across this country, and right now, tens of millions of Americans are turning to our unions saying, ‘Lift my voice. Help us with that student loan debt.

During the roundtable, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, recalled asking her members about key issues affecting them. “Normally, this survey is confidential,” she said. “I had to break confidentiality. Why? Because the survey was about student debt, and several people who responded said how suicidal they were. … They talked about not being able to make ends meet and the shame of having student debt.

Like Pressley, Warren pushed back against criticism that debt cancellation would benefit the wealthy. “It’s a problem that affects people who work hard, people who try, people who have two jobs and three jobs, people who start, and maybe it doesn’t work the first time, but they want come back and try again,” she said.

She pointed to her own story as motivation for her efforts to cancel student debt; she attended the University of Houston for $50 per semester while working part-time to cover expenses.

“Why was this opportunity there? Because we made the decision together to invest in the future of our children, not just children born into wealthy families,” Warren said. Today, she says, things have changed.

“$1.7 trillion in student loan debt didn’t come out of the blue,” she said. “It happened because of deliberate political decisions to invest in lowering taxes for the wealthiest Americans and paying for it by cutting education for our children.”

Speaking to Biden, Warren said if the president cares about the job, he should act. “Today would be a good day to write off $50,000 in student loan debt,” she said. “That’s the beauty of an action the president can take on his own. … All Republicans can do right now is lie and hope they can talk the president out of doing what’s right for him. the workers.

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