**Student Loan Forgiveness and the Challenge of Biden’s Plan**
**Calls for Debt Cancellation and Congressional Authority**
As borrowers eagerly await the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the legality of President Joe Biden’s relief plan, there is growing pressure on Congress to enact student loan debt cancellation. Education and policy experts argue that Congress does have the power to cancel student loan debt, but the current makeup of the legislative body makes it unlikely. Nicholas Jacobs, assistant professor of government at Colby College, asserts that given the political climate, Republicans are unlikely to support the president’s plan, as it has become associated with Biden’s image and they would not want to give him a victory leading into the 2024 elections.
**The Progressive Democrats’ Push for Loan Forgiveness**
Widespread student loan forgiveness has gained prominence among progressive Democrats in recent years. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden also pledged to cancel some student debt. However, conservatives immediately mounted legal challenges to the plan, arguing that Biden was overstepping his authority. While the plan technically stems from the U.S. Secretary of Education’s authority, Biden is the face of the initiative.
**The Republican Opposition and Alternative Proposals**
Republicans vehemently oppose Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, with Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) stating that the programs merely transfer the debt burden from borrowers to taxpayers, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. Instead of blanket forgiveness, some Republican lawmakers propose increased transparency in college pricing and placing limits on borrowing amounts by students.
**Division Among Democrats**
Not all Democrats support student loan forgiveness. At the end of May, three moderate senators—Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.)—voted with Republicans to nullify Biden’s plan. This vote suggests that if Democrats held the majority in both chambers, Congress would likely forgive student loan debt. However, during the first two years of Biden’s term, when Democrats held the House and Senate, they did not pass any legislation to cancel student loan debt. The party’s inability to reach a consensus on the issue undermines the White House’s claim that the winners and losers of the policy are clear-cut.
**The Issue of Fairness and Lingering Challenges**
While student loan forgiveness has gained significant attention, it is worth noting that not all Americans have student loans. Millions have already repaid their loans, and forgiving debt may be seen as unfair to these individuals. Furthermore, even experts and proponents of forgiveness acknowledge that canceling some debt does not address the underlying issues in America’s approach to paying for college. There is a need for a comprehensive plan to reduce dependency on student loans and address the economic burdens imposed by them.
As the debate over student loan forgiveness continues, it remains uncertain whether Biden’s plan will gain the necessary support to be enacted. Congressional divisions, opposition from Republicans, and differing opinions among Democrats create significant obstacles. It is clear that student loan forgiveness is a complex issue that requires broader discussions about college affordability and reducing the need for excessive borrowing.