Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Biden unveiled a $1.75 trillion social-spending plan void of many progressive priorities.
AOC said on Instagram the “slashed” spending package is a chance to ramp up pressure for student debt cancellation.
“He needs to step up his executive action game and show his commitment to deliver for people,” she added.
AOC is disappointed in the $1.75 trillion social-spending plan President Joe Biden unveiled on Thursday, and she says it’s a good time to ramp up pressure on the President to cancel student debt.
The plan is significantly scaled down from Democrats’ initial $3.5 trillion proposal and leaves out many progressive priorities, thanks to negotiations that were necessary to get centrist Democratic holdouts Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board.
The New York representative. posted about the smaller Build Back Better (BBB) framework on her Instagram story on Thursday:
“I think given how much BBB has been slashed there is more opportunity than ever to bring the heat on Biden to cancel student loans. He doesn’t need Manchin’s permission for that and now that his agenda is thinly sliced he needs to step up his executive action game and show his commitment to deliver for people.”
Ocasio-Cortez also suggested the possibility of a “showdown” when student-loan payments are expected to resume on February 1 after a nearly two-year pause, adding that “we need to organize and prepare actions now.” She called out the Debt Collective – a debtors’ union that is fighting to abolish all forms of debt – for guidance on organizing.
As Insider reported, the only measure that would have significantly helped lessen student debt in Biden’s plan – free community college – did not make the cut, and higher education as a whole received just a $40 billion investment to increase Pell grants and support minority-serving colleges, compared to the $400 billion early education and childcare got.
Given that the Education Department is reportedly preparing a “safety net” to ease borrowers back into repayment next year, it doesn’t look like broad student-debt cancellation is coming anytime soon. Biden has yet to fulfill his campaign promise of $10,000 in forgiveness per borrower, and he asked the department nearly seven months ago to prepare a memo on his legal ability to cancel at least $50,000.
The results of that memo have yet to be released, and Ocasio-Cortez joined a group of her Democratic colleagues earlier this month in urging the department to tell borrowers across the country if Biden will cancel their student debt.
“Millions of borrowers across the country are desperately asking for student debt relief,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who led the effort, told Insider. “We know the President can do it with the stroke of a pen.”
Biden has so far canceled about $11.5 billion in student debt for targeted groups of borrowers, like those defrauded by for-profit schools, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona recently said “conversations are continuing” with broad loan forgiveness.
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