Communist Party USA

  While on the campaign trail, Joseph Biden made a lot of promises. One of them was to forgive $10,000 dollars in student debt. His promises paid off big. When election time came around, Biden won roughly 60% of the youth vote. So far, the president has only partially honored his promise. The Education Department recently announced the forgiveness of $415 million in federal student loan debt. This follows last summer’s $55 million in debt relief for students of three for-profit colleges. But the beneficiaries of these measures were limited to students who attended for-profit institutions that engaged in fraudulent activities and claimed they could place students in jobs. There are other modest fixes, too, like the debt relief for permanently disabled workers and public service workers announced last year. The amount of debt forgiveness is now at $2 billion for 107,000 borrowers. But this is a drop in the bucket of the $1.8 trillion in student debt. Currently Biden’s approval rating is 38% to 45% depending on the pollster. Democrats may find an apathetic youth who may skip the polls if Biden doesn’t pick up his pen and cancel student debt. And a stroke of a pen is literally only what’s needed to cancel federally held debt, not legislation as Biden claims. That is, the Higher Education Act allows for a president to cancel federal debt by executive order. Biden’s fellow Democrats are feeling the heat from their constituents. Over 83% of Democrats support canceling at least a portion of student debt. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are pressuring the president to cancel $50,000 per student instead of the $10,000 figure Biden supports. And Bernie Sanders recently tweeted, “Cancel it. Every penny.” Loan payments were suspended during the pandemic, but students will have to resume them in May, unless something is done. If Biden and the Democrats wish to recapture that 60% youth vote during the midterms, it’s time to get moving. The right wing is attempting to paint student debt forgiveness proponents as so-called privileged East Coasters attending Ivy League universities, but  the reality is quite different. First, such sentiment assumes that education is only for the rich and that the working class does not belong and should not belong in academia, but should be restricted to manual labor. Second, it ignores the demographics of who suffers from student debt. This is a working-class, racial, and social justice issue. Quoting from the Hill: “This means that these recent graduates, most of whom are working class by anyone’s definition, make average monthly payments of $300 on their student loans while struggling, in a down labor market, to make rent, pay for food, medical care and transportation. This has only been exacerbated in the COVID-19 era, during which one in three households are struggling to pay their monthly bills.” Women, and especially women of color, suffer from the burden of student debt. A study from the American Association of University Women found that Women graduate owing almost $22,000 in student debt, compared $18,880 owed by men. Black women graduate with an average of $37,558 in student debt. Women with bachelor’s degrees who work full time make, on average, 26% less than their male peers, hampering women’s ability to quickly pay off debt. Women take about two years longer than men to repay student loans and are more likely to struggle economically as they do so. The situation is even more significant for women of color. 41% of female undergraduates take on student debt, compared to 35% of male undergraduates, and more women take…

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Let’s organize around student debt!