The White House earlier this week said canceling student loan debt through executive action was “still on the table,” but one expert warns it will cost Democrats in the midterms on another issue: inflation.
“It’s probably going to have a small inflationary effect, though,” George Mason University politics professor Jeremy Mayer told the Washington Examiner. “Inflation is really hurting Biden more than anything right now.”
Even former Democratic treasury secretary and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers is warning the White House moving to defer student debt is “regressive, uncertainty creating, untargeted” and “a macroeconomic step in the wrong direction,” the Examiner reported.
Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign promised to forgive $10,000 per borrower. So far, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has cancelled billions in student debt for borrowers with disabilities and borrowers defrauded by for-profit schools. But Democrats, and voters, want Biden to do more.
“The Democratic coalition depends on rehabilitating support from young voters, and canceling student loan debt would certainly help address that,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) co-founder Adam Green told the Examiner.
The PCCC is urging members to share their stories to help grease the wheels for freezing payments, if not forgiving student debt altogether, to bolster discouraging midterm election polling. White House press secretary Jen Psaki teased potential White House action in that regard by the end of August.
“Psaki said, ‘Between now and Aug. 31, [the freeze on payments] is either going to be extended or we’re going to make a decision, as [White House chief of staff] Ron [KLAIN] referenced, about canceling student debt,'” according to the PCCC email.
“Now is the time for the White House to see overwhelming public demand and grassroots engagement.”
Northeastern University political science chairman Costas Panagopoulos said failing to act could impact Democrat votes for “years.”
“Failure to act on student debt or other top priorities for young voters could alienate them, possibly for years to come,” Panagopoulos told the Examiner.
University of Southern California political analyst Dan Schnur noted, while Biden needs a far bigger boost than mere young voters seeking student debt relief would provide, every little bit can help.
“Biden needs to motivate the Democratic base, and except for a new Supreme Court justice, he doesn’t have a lot to offer,” Schnur told the Examiner. “So smaller-scale policy changes like this one might be his best bet for getting party loyalists to turn out in November.”
Biden has extended the pause on federal student loan repayment until Aug. 31, potentially helping 41 million people.
“Not a single person has paid a dime on their student loans since the president took office,” Psaki told the Examiner. “He’s continued to evaluate and assess with the Department of Education and other policymakers in the administration what the needs are to lower costs for people, including people who have student loans and do feel stressed, even as the economy is continuing to recover but as we see costs too high in some areas.”