Some Democrats and debt relief supporters worry that the party could be hit hard in November elections if Biden permits federal student loan payments from the Federal Student Loan Program to resume.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is under pressure from both Democrats and debt relief advocates to put loan payments on hold until at least the midterm elections.
Advocates for student debt relief claim that allowing payments to resume before the midterms can depress turnout of Democratic base, particularly since the president has not been able to deliver on key legislative priorities and voter rights — and because of ongoing concerns about inflation.
Some Democrats believe that allowing payments to be resumed could have a political impact on the party, as it fights for its small majority in the House and Senate.
Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) stated that Democrats win when Democrats deliver. Unconscionable for him to not extend the pause on student loans payments and to fulfill his promise to cancel student credit would be.
To convince the White House that the pause is popular with voters, and that it will negatively impact Democrats in November, debt relief advocates have been sharing polling data with the White House. According to advocates who spoke with the White House, the administration is reluctant to extend the pause but is acutely aware of the potential for it to be canceled so close to the midterm elections.
Friday’s White House official stated that there were no “any decisions to be made yet” regarding the payment pause. However, he stressed that Americans have not been required to pay “one dime” for federal student loans since Biden’s election.
Data for Progress, a liberal think-tank that regularly shares its polling results with the White House, discovered in a survey last Month that 59% of likely voters either “strongly favor” or “somewhat support” extending the payment suspension through the end, while 33% “somewhat oppose or “strongly opposed” such an extension.
A survey by the Student Debt Crisis Center found that 93% of borrowers aren’t ready to make payments again on May 1.
Marcela Mulholland (the political director at Data for Progress) stated that it was politically problematic to rescind these payments in the lead-up to midterms. “Once people have received something, it is difficult to remove it, even if it was done in extreme and unusual circumstances.”
According to NBC News polls Biden’s job approval hovers at 43 per cent. This is despite the fact that support from key elements of the Democratic base has declined since his inauguration. Biden’s approval ratings have declined in the first year of his term among Black voters (83 to 64 percent), those aged 18-34 (56 percent – 40 percent), Latinos (59% to 48 percent) as well as women (61% to 51 percent).
Except for former President Donald Trump who received a 39% approval rating, Biden’s overall job performance rating was the lowest in 30 years of the NBC News poll.
According to the Federal Reserve, Americans owed $1.7 trillion in student loan debt in the fourth quarter 2021. Study results show that students with color are more likely than others to have student debt. struggle is disproportionately in repaying it back. Students who attended non-profit institutions have the highest default rates.
Wisdom O. Cole, national director of NAACP Youth & College Division said that while many issues are important to Black voters have been blocked in Congress, he believed that extending the payment pause was a step Biden should take to increase his support among Black voters.
“Police reform failed. Voting rights were not passed. Cole stated, “You must do something for Black America. Otherwise, Black America will not vote again.”
“When we look at the upcoming midterm election, we are able to do great work. We can register voters. We can turn out voters. He said that people will not vote the way they want to if there’s no real, tangible policy that changes their lives.”
Federal student loan holders don’t have to pay any payments since March 2020 when former President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act. This law halted payments until September 2020 and eliminated interest rates from the approximately 42 million borrowers.
Later Trump took executive action to extend deferral period until January 2021. On his first day of office, Biden signed an executive-order extending it until Sept. 30. In September, he extended the extension to give borrowers until January. 31 before they could resume making payments. He extended the pause to May 1 in December.
Borrowers with privately-held loans are exempted from the moratorium
While the White House has not indicated whether Biden will extend the extension, advocates are encouraged by the fact the administration isn’t completely excluding it, just as it did last fall when it explicitly stated that it would not extend the suspension beyond January 31. After the coronavirus omicron virus hit, Biden changed his mind.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that Biden is concerned about the political consequences of restarting student loans payments so close to elections.
She stated, “We’ve been very clear about what we are preparing for. But the president will make these decisions based upon what economic data shows and what is most needed at the moment in the country.”
Some Democrats see the extension of the payment pause in Biden’s favor as a political win, while others fear that it might signal to voters that the pandemic hasn’t ended and remind them of the economic strain many are feeling due to rising prices and inflation.
Some Democrats worry that payments might not be made at the right time politically and that keeping them paused could encourage calls for Biden’s to cancel student debt, a move he has been reluctant to take part .
“We want to demonstrate a strong economy. For sure. I think turning down student loan payments is one indicator that says, ‘Look. The economy is strong enough; it can do this.'” Jared Bass, senior director for higher education at Center for American Progress (an influential Democratic-aligned thinktank), said.
Bass stated, “But at the conclusion of the day, we’re still in an epidemic.”