As President Joe Biden reportedly nears a plan to cancel $10,000 in student loans per borrower, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Derrick Johnson argued Friday that the amount would not be enough — particularly for black borrowers.
After months of pressure from progressive Democrats, the White House is nearing a plan to scrap $10,000 per borrower earning up to $150,000 per year, according to a report from The Washington Post. Johnson argued that such a solution would be “pouring a bucket of ice water on a forest fire.”
“Black Americans are the only people who have student debt higher than their median annual income,” he said. “$10,000 in cancelation would not place their student debt lower than their annual income.”
Johnson also pointed toward wealth disparities between black and white households.
“Today, the average white family has roughly 10 times the amount of wealth as the average Black family, while white college graduates have over seven times more wealth than Black college graduates,” he noted. “Black borrowers typically owe 50% more in student debt upon graduation than their white peers. Four years after graduation, this gap increases to 100%.”
Other data suggest that student loan forgiveness disproportionately benefits wealthy Americans. The highest income 40% of households hold 60% of student loan debt, according to a study from the Brookings Institution. Most of the people benefiting from debt cancellation make above $74,000.
Yet Johnson is not the only prominent progressive urging President Biden to take more aggressive unilateral action on student debt. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have repeatedly pressed the commander-in-chief to cancel student loan debt of up to $50,000 per borrower.
“It’s teenagers signing up for what is often hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. We just do that. Our government allows that,” Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor last year. “We give 17-year-olds the ability to sign on and sign up for $100,000 worth of debt and we think that’s responsible policy.”
Schumer has argued that “all President Biden has to do is flick his pen” in order to erase $50,000 per borrower. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) questioned the overall premise that student loan forgiveness is a beneficial policy.
“Suppose,” she said in response to Schumer’s argument, “your child at this time does not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive someone else’s obligation. You may not be happy about that.”
Meanwhile, many conservatives argue that forgiving student loans worsens the problem that underlies the crisis altogether — excessive government intervention.
In a recent opinion piece, The Daily Wire’s Zach Jewell noted that taxpayers who pay for college after carefully saving their money will be the ones who bear the burden of canceled student debt.
“If Biden could wave a magic wand at the request of leftists in Congress and suddenly make student loans disappear, this would be great news,” Jewell wrote. “But since we don’t prance around in the magical fairyland some Democrats want us to believe in, no one can ‘forgive’ student loans for some without burdening others.”
“Those taking the hit for student debt cancellation would be the taxpayers like me who paid their way through college or who responsibly paid back their loans and like others who never went to college and never needed student loans.”
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