US House Squad member Ayanna Pressley tries to make student debt forgiveness about racial justice, but even Dems aren’t buying it

US House Squad member Ayanna Pressley tries to make student debt forgiveness about racial justice, but even Dems aren’t buying it

“Student debt cancellation is a racial-justice issue,” the Massachusetts Democrat declared Monday on Twitter.

Pressley’s tweet came amid increasing discussion of student loan debt after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this month that once Joe Biden becomes president, he would be able to extinguish $50,000 of student borrowings for each debtor through an executive order.

Pressley’s suggestion that debt forgiveness should be tied to skin color was predictably rejected or mocked by conservatives, such as media critic Mark Dice, but failed to strike a chord with some Democrats, and the members of the community she was appealing to.

Maxwell Little, political activist and former field organizer for Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, pointed out that white students hold most student debt, so forgiving college loans would only increase the racial wealth gap. Paying reparations to American descendants of slaves “must be first,” he said.

“To me, it’s a class issue. Wealthy families, regardless of race, ensure their kids don’t have the equivalent of a second mortgage when they graduate,” another commenter and Trump critic wrote.

Another observer echoed the point: “There is nothing at all equitable about student debt forgiveness for everybody when everybody isn’t faced with the same inability to pay in the first place. Not to mention, doing so would only widen the wealth gap.”

“This is what happens when intersectional and people of color infusion drowns out the specific concerns of black people. We are born black. Not all black people have student debt,” a commenter argued.

Biden said Monday that he favors eliminating $10,000 in student debt per borrower “immediately,” as proposed under legislation in the Democrat-controlled House, but he stopped short of saying whether he would do a larger-scale debt forgiveness through an executive order, as recommended by Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren to avoid being blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate.

But if the goal is to stimulate the economy by putting more disposable income in the pockets of borrowers, such an approach could backfire. If done through an executive order, rather than legislation, the amount of student debt forgiven might have to be reported as taxable income by each borrower, which would undermine the near-term economic impact.

US student loan debt totals $1.56 trillion, or an average of nearly $33,000 for the 44.7 million Americans who have such borrowings.

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