President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he wouldn’t write off $50,000 in student loan debt, as progressives have asked for, and was willing to gradually bump up the minimum wage to $15.
Biden participated in a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he wiggled away from the left of his party, knocking down attendee Joycelyn Fish’s ask that he work to get $50,000 wiped from each American student’s loan bill.
‘I will not make that happen,’ the president said.
President Joe Biden said he would not wipe $50,000 from each American’s student loan bill, explaining that he feared he would be spending money to erase debt from people who went to Ivy League universities
Progressive Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (left) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right) have pressed the Biden administration to erase $50,000 in debt load from every student borrower. Biden threw cold water on that idea Tuesday night
Biden said he stood by the plan he articulated on the campaign trail, which was to absolve adult borrowers from $10,000 worth of debt.
‘I understand the impact of debt and it can be debilitating,’ he said. ‘But I do think that in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, number one and number two, I’m prepared to write off a $10,000 debt, but not $50,000.’
‘I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing,’ the president added.
Members of his own party, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have said Biden does have the power.
Progressive activists have been pushing for the number to go up.
‘The Biden admin NEEDS to be pushed,’ said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during an Instagram Q&A last Tuesday. ‘They have said they’re comfortable with $10K in forgiveness but we NEED at least $50K minimum and there is support for 50K.’
Biden suggested he wasn’t comfortable with that much debt relief because he feared it was going to students who graduated from Ivy League universities.
President Joe Biden (right) said ‘I will not make that happen,’ when CNN town hall attendee Joycelyn Fish (left) asked him to forgive $50,000 in student debt per American
‘I say to a community, I’m going to forgive the debt, the billions of dollars of debt for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn and the schools of my children,’ he said. ‘But is that going to be forgiven rather than use that money to provide for early education for young children who come from disadvantaged circumstances?’
Biden first talked about his plans to make education more affordable – like free community college – before getting back to the plight of loan holders, who are sometimes a decade or two out of school.
The president said he backed Americans being able to pay off their debt through certain career fields and volunteer work.
He also was supportive of repayment plans, which already exist, that are based on income.
‘And you cannot be charged more than X per cent of your take-home pay, so that it doesn’t affect your ability to buy a car, own a home, etc.,’ Biden explained.
Biden was pressed on his plan to originally include a $15 minimum wage in the COVID-19 relief bill – which might not happen now because the Senate will likely have to use a certain parliamentary procedure for passage, and the wage hike will have to be dropped.
The president was asked about it by a small business owner who fretted about paying employees that much money when the cost of living in the midwest is lower than other parts of the country.
‘South is not much different than the midwest in that regard,’ Biden said.
The president explained that the way to do it, is to do it gradually over several years.
‘But it’s totally legitimate for small business owners to be concerned about that changes,’ he admitted.
He was applauded when he said, ‘Where it’s $7.25 an hour, no one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty.’
That’s the current federal minimum wage.
‘I do support a $15 minimum wage. I think there is equally if not more evidence to dictate that it would grow the economy in the long run and medium run, benefit small businesses as well as large businesses and would not have such a dilatory effect, but that’s a debatable issue,’ he told the audience.