Reports suggest that President Joe Biden may be on the verge of announcing a plan to cancel at least some of the $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, as Inside Higher Ed reports, but it seems increasingly clear that whatever route he decides to take, Americans in large numbers will be furious.
Speculation has been ramping up that the president is very close to declaring his intentions around the controversial issue of student loan forgiveness, with some predicting that word might come as soon as this weekend during a scheduled commencement speech at the University of Delaware.
Though the White House has emphasized that no final decision on the size or scope of any plan has yet been made, CNBC reports that the administration is leaning in the direction of erasing $10,000 in student debt per borrower, an amount far less than progressive activists had hoped would be forgiven.
Many on the left have said for quite some time that the president needs to eliminate at least $50,000 in debt per individual borrower in order to achieve the desired economic impact, though Biden said recently that such a plan was not among those currently under consideration.
As such, the president risks angering members of his liberal base, with Thomas Gokey of the Debt Collective declaring, according to CNBC, that forgiveness at the $10,000 level would amount to “an absolute insult,” as it is “less than what [Biden] promised on the campaign.”
Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP also expressed dissatisfaction with the rumored forgiveness amount, saying that it “won’t do anything” for the Black constituency his organization represents. “The average Black borrower has $53,000 in student loan debt four years after graduation, nearly twice the amount as their white counterparts,” he said.
“Ten thousand dollars in cancellation would be a slap in the face,” Johnson added. “President Biden, it’s not about whether you can do it; it’s about whether or not you have the will to do it.”
Proponents of more substantial debt forgiveness are not the only Americans likely to stand in opposition to loan cancellation in any amount, as there is likely to be significant backlash from individuals who have already repaid their loans, those who worked their way from school and avoided borrowing in the first place, and those who simply did not attend college and incurred no such debt, as higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz explained to CNBC in an article published Thursday.
Biden – as he tends to do – backed himself into something of a corner on the 2020 campaign trail when it comes to student debt, but it remains to be seen if any forthcoming attempt to spend his way out of trouble will actually succeed in mollifying his increasingly disillusioned base or will simply end up alienating just about everyone.