Policy expert says cancelling student debt may be easiest way for Biden to pass stimulus without Senate

11/23/20

The president of the left-leaning People’s Policy Project (PPP) Matt Bruenig on Monday said that if President-elect Joe Biden cancels student-debt, it could be his only way of passing some form of stimulus without needing the Senate’s vote.

Appearing on Hill.TV’s ‘Rising,’ Bruenig was asked for his thoughts on potential student loan forgiveness the Biden administration may push. Biden has expressed interest in canceling out some student loan debt in the past.

“Usually a policy, you know, if it helps high-income people it also helps wealthy people, or if it helps low-income people it also helps low-wealth people. But in this case, you have a split where some of the least wealthy people in the country have the most debt, obviously because debt makes you have low-wealth. Whereas some of the highest income people in the country also have the most debts so it’s a bit of a mixed bag in that respect,” said Bruenig.

Bruenig said he didn’t think forgiving student loans was necessarily the best stimulus idea to pursue in the middle of a pandemic but said that if Senate Republicans maintain their majority and block other stimulus measures then it may be a feasible option to help people financially.

Addressing ways to alleviate student loan debt, Bruenig said the Department of Education had the option of choosing to not collect certain amounts of debt, something he says it does already when loans are defaulted on.

“There’s a theory out there that under the Higher Education Act, the Department of Education has the ability to adjust these loans and to choose not to collect certain amounts of debt,” said Bruenig. “Which they do regularly because some people just default and you’re never gonna be able to collect this. So they write them off and so the idea is to use that authority to write it all off and you wouldn’t need to get McConnell’s approval or Joe Manchin’s approval to make that happen.”

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