On The Money: White House reviewing if Biden can cancel student loan debt | Senate signals broad support for more targeted relief checks | Romney proposes monthly payments for families with children

On The Money: White House reviewing if Biden can cancel student loan debt | Senate signals broad support for more targeted relief checks | Romney proposes monthly payments for families with children
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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—White House reviewing whether Biden can take action to cancel student loan debt: The White House is mulling whether President Biden can take unilateral action to cancel federal student loan debt, press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRussian military buildup puts Washington on edge White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden: Guilty verdicts in Arbery case 'not enough' MORE said Thursday, as progressives push the administration to provide relief amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"The President continues to support the cancelling of student debt to bring relief to students and families," Psaki tweeted. "Our team is reviewing whether there are any steps he can take through executive action and he would welcome the opportunity to sign a bill sent to him by Congress."

Why it matters: Psaki’s statement is the first indication that Biden may be willing to forgive student loan debt through executive action, something he’s declined to support before and doubted he would be able to do legally.

Biden had previously called for $10,000 of student debt forgiveness per borrower through an act of Congress, not executive action, and Psaki reiterated the president’s position hours before her tweet opening the door to unilateral forgiveness.

The progressive push for forgiveness: The White House comment came hours after a group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden eyes new path for Fed despite Powell pick Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Storms a growing danger for East Coast Senate Democrats call on Biden to push for COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers at WTO MORE (Mass.) reintroduced a measure calling on Biden to forgive up to $50,000 in federally held student debt per borrower.

“We are not going to let up until we accomplish it, until $50,000 of debt is forgiven for every student in the country,” Schumer said during a Thursday press conference. “Let’s get it done.”

I’ve got more here.

LEADING THE DAY

Senate signals broad support for more targeted coronavirus relief checks: The Senate signaled broad bipartisan support on Thursday for the next round of coronavirus stimulus checks to be more targeted.

The chamber voted 99-1 on an amendment from Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions MORE (D-W.Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice MORE (R-Maine) related to "targeting" the checks and making sure that "upper-income taxpayers are not eligible."

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  • The vote is non-binding and the budget resolution to which senators attached the proposal doesn't get signed into law. 
  • But the margin signals overwhelming support in the Senate for tightening the phase-out structure of the next round of checks as Congress crafts the COVID-19 relief bill that Democrats want to pass by mid-March.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney breaks it down here.

Romney proposes monthly payments for families with children: Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThis Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai Biden says he's 'considering' a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics MORE (R-Utah) on Thursday unveiled a proposal to provide monthly payments to families with children.

The proposal comes as many Democrats have similarly expressed interest in providing payments to families with children on a monthly basis.

Breaking down the plan: Under Romney's proposal, the existing child tax credit would be replaced with monthly payments of $350 for children ages 5 and under and $250 for children ages 6 to 17. Families would be capped at monthly payments of $1,250.

  • All children with Social Security numbers would be eligible for the payments, and parents would also be eligible to apply to start getting the benefit four months before a child's due date.
  • The payment amounts phase out for single tax filers with income above $200,000 and married couples with income above $400,000 — the same income phaseout thresholds for the current child tax credit. 
  • The Social Security Administration would administer the monthly payments, and people would reconcile any overpayments or underpayments with the IRS when they filed their tax returns.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda walks us through the plan here.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • President Biden on Thursday formally withdrew Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board, closing the book on her quest to join the central bank.
  • The S&P 500 closed at a record high of 3,872 on Thursday, up 42 points, or 1.1 percent, as markets seized on positive economic data.
  • Initial jobless claims in the last full week of January fell to a seasonally adjusted 779,000, a drop of 33,000 from the previous week, but still a historically high level demonstrating persistent troubles in the job market.
  • One in three Americans who relocated during the coronavirus pandemic said they did so due to related financial issues, according to polling from Pew Research Center released Thursday.

ODDS AND ENDS