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Warren urges Biden to cancel student loan debt before midterms: "The power is clearly there"

Warren urges Biden to cancel student loan debt
Warren urges Biden to cancel student loan debt ahead of midterm elections 06:59

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Sunday renewed her push for President Biden to cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt, saying the measure would wipe out the burden for tens of millions of borrowers while increasing Democrats' chances of holding on to their Senate and House majorities in November's midterm elections.

Appearing on "Face the Nation," Warren insisted that the White House has the authority to cancel student debt partly because it has already done so for certain borrowers, including through a forgiveness program for people working in public service.

"Look, we know that the president has the authority to cancel student loan debt and the best way we know that is because President Obama did it, President Trump did it, and President Biden has now done it repeatedly. The power is clearly there," she said.

Warren said 40% of borrowers don't have college diplomas and may be stuck with huge debts despite not having completed their degrees.

"These are people who tried, but life happened: pregnancy, they were working three jobs, their mom got sick, they had to move to another city. And now they earn like a high school grad, but they are trying to manage college loan debt and it is crushing them," she said.

Canceling student debt has been one of Warren's main goals in recent years. She has repeatedly pushed the Biden administration to extend the student loan payment pause during the pandemic and released new data this month showing that canceling $50,000 in student loans per person would erase all debt for 36 million borrowers, or 84% of those with loans. Last week, she discussed her proposal in an op-ed for The New York Times, where she laid out ways her party could avoid a disaster in the upcoming midterm elections.

"Democrats win when Democrats are in touch with the American people and what's happening to them," she said Sunday. "Today, we've got people who are in the checkout line for groceries and having to pick what they're going to send back because they can't afford to pay for it. We've got millions of people across this country who say they're not ready for their student loan payments to resume, that they simply can't manage those loan burdens."

Mr. Biden previously said he wanted to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt, though he has appeared hesitant to move forward without congressional action.

Opponents of Warren's plan to cancel student debt say doing so would contribute to an already record-high inflation. The senator disagrees.

"As President Biden himself says, the way we deal with inflation is not by making people poorer," she said. "The way we deal with inflation is we attack high prices head on, [such as] price gouging. We straighten out the supply chain so goods can come in to people. We attack it head on, not by trying to make people poorer. Canceling student loan debt is something that would be good for people all across this country and more importantly, good for our economy overall."

Borrowers owe more than $1.7 trillion in student loans, according to the Federal Reserve. It is the second largest amount of debt for U.S. households, behind mortgages. The burden has forced many young Americans to put off major financial decisions, such as buying a house, saving for retirement and having children, a study revealed last week.

Warren expressed confidence that Democrats can deliver results over the next six months before voters head to the polls.

"We need to be out there fighting, and what we need to fight for are the things that touch America's families directly," she said. "People are counting on us and we can't just sit back and play politics. We need to be in the fight on behalf of the American people. And that means people who are struggling with student loan debt, people who are struggling with high prices, people who are worried about this pandemic. "

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