US Representative Ayanna Pressley, a member of the progressive ‘Squad’ in Congress, has argued that student-loan debt forgiveness is a racial justice issue, drawing flak even from fellow Democrats.
“Student debt cancellation is a racial-justice issue,” the Massachusetts Democrat declared Monday on Twitter.
Student debt cancellation is a racial justice issue.
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) November 16, 2020
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.
So, you want to only cancel the debt of black people? hahaha
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) November 16, 2020
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.
There is tons of research on the over representation of White students and they hold the majority of student debt. A cancellation program without #reparations for #ADOS will indeed, increase the current racial lineage wealth gap. Let’s get honest, repairing ADOS must be first. pic.twitter.com/PwKEvfU8KX
— Maxwell Little 🇺🇸 (@MaxHPF) November 16, 2020
“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.
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.
— RA Holmes (@RAHolmes2) November 16, 2020
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.”
There is nothing at all equitable about student debt forgiveness for everybody, when everybody isn’t faced with the same inability to pay inf the first place.
Not to mention doing so would only widen the wealth gap that currently exist between #ADOS & others groups in America .
— mi_keezy (@mi_keezy) November 16, 2020
“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.
This is what happens when ‘intersectiona’l & “people of color” infusion drowns out specific concerns of Black people. We are born BLACK. NOT all Black people have student DEBT. pic.twitter.com/cxmxOOZHZw
— Onyx Paradigm⚡️👊🏿💪🏿⚡️ (@C_Rich75) November 16, 2020
White people comparatively go to college more than blacks, so they stand to benefit more by student debt cancellation, while having a median net worth far greater than blacks.
If student debt is a racial justice issue, then why cancel white debt?https://t.co/rOFn1mUAEW
— mi_keezy (@mi_keezy) November 16, 2020
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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