Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday urged debt relief campaigners to keep pushing President Joe Biden to broadly wipe out student debt, saying he's talked extensively with the White House about debt cancellation for millions of Americans via executive action.
The New York Democrat said he and other advocates on Capitol Hill are "making progress" in convincing the president to cancel at least $50,000 per borrower, which Biden could direct Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to do instead of relying on Congress to pass legislation.
"The White House seems more open to it than ever before," Schumer said at the virtual State of Student Debt Summit, hosted by the Student Debt Crisis Center.
Schumer's comments came as a Morning Consult/Politico survey showed that the Democratic Party is losing ground with voters who hold student debt, even after the administration extended the moratorium on federal student loan payments until August amid pressure from progressives.
Only 51% of people who owe student debt said they would support a Democratic congressional candidate in the poll taken between April 8 and 11, compared to 56% who said the same last October. Thirty-two percent said this month that they would back a Republican candidate, compared to 29% six months ago.
Biden's job approval among student borrowers also dropped by six points since Morning Consult/Politico last polled them, hitting 50% this month.
"Voters who owe student loans are less likely than those who don't to say they're 'extremely' enthusiastic about voting in the midterms, 21% to 27%," noted the pollsters.
The poll also showed that 72% of Democratic voters support the student loan payment pause, which has been extended several times since it was first introduced at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Seventy percent of people who owe student loans supported the moratorium, and people who aren't student borrowers were more likely to support it than not.
"Biden's federal student loan payment pause is popular, and data suggests he could reap rewards by going further," said Morning Consult/Politico.
Speaking at the summit Wednesday, Schumer made clear that repeatedly extending the moratorium is not providing enough help to Americans, nor will it inspire sufficient confidence in Democrats heading into the 2022 elections in November.
"Make no mistake about it, this pause isn't going to stay forever, and the canceling of student debt is the way to go," said the Senate majority leader, who joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in proposing the cancellation of up to $50,000 in student debt in 2020.
"We want our young people to realize that they can have a good future, and one of the very best ways to do it is by canceling student debt by getting rid of the $50,000, even going higher after that," Schumer added.
Last month, support for broad student debt cancellation strengthened on Capitol Hill, with nearly 100 lawmakers signing a letter written by Schumer, Warren, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) calling on Biden to take action.
At Wednesday's summit, Schumer urged advocates to continue pressuring the White House.
"This burden that puts a cloud over your life should be removed, and with the flick of a pen [Biden] can do it," said the Democratic leader. "If we got rid of student debt, our economy would take off, that anchor that's tying down our young and middle-aged people would go away, and America would be a better, happier, more prosperous place."
Republished from Common Dreams (Julia Conley, staff writer) under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).