On August 21, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he was pressed (no pun intended) about the upcoming student loan debt payment pause deadline, which expires on August 31.
According to Cardona, “We know August 31st is a date that many people are waiting to hear something from. We’ve been talking daily about this. And I can tell you that American people will hear within the next week or so from the president and the department.” He added, “Well, I don’t have any news to announce today, Chuck. But I will tell you the American people will hear directly from us because we recognize this is an important issue across the country.”
Although Cardona was being coy about whether or not the administration will definitely extended the pause on student debt payments, it seems like another extension is all but inevitable. With the midterm elections less than 90 days away, and given Biden’s abysmal approval rating with young voters, it seems a fait accompli that Biden will kick the can down the road yet again.
In March 2020, the federal government put a moratorium on student debt payments, due to the pandemic. While many assumed this would be a temporary measure, here we are more than two years later, with the suspension on repayments still in place.
Currently, 43 million Americans have $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. To put this into proper context, that is almost double the total amount of Americans’ credit card debt.
On the campaign stump in 2020, Biden repeatedly promised that he would cancel student debt. However, he has not followed through on this promise yet, which has raised the ire of socialists such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and many others.
This means Biden is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
If he simply extends the pause again, he will almost surely receive blowback from the progressives in his party that he isn’t doing enough. On the other hand, if he pulls the trigger and cancels a large amount of student debt (somewhere between $10,000 to $50,000) he will probably be pilloried by those of us who either paid our loans back or didn’t accumulate student loan debt in the first place. Obviously, if he does nothing and lets the suspension lapse, he would be committing political suicide.