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Elizabeth Warren lays out the stakes of Biden’s student loan plan

The Massachusetts senator asked groups to tell her how GOP efforts to block Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan are affecting them. Here’s what they said.


Coinciding with Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on President Joe Biden’s plan for student loan forgiveness, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is out with a report highlighting the economic predicament many Americans would face if Republicans succeed in thwarting the plan

The report relies on feedback Warren received from major activist groups and others after she asked people to notify her office about how student debt relief — or the plan being overturned — would affect them. 

“If Republican officials and extremist judges get their way, millions of Americans’ monthly costs will rise significantly when student loan payments resume,” the report says.

As my MSNBC colleague Jordan Rubin wrote for Deadline: Legal Blog, conservatives on the Supreme Court don’t appear willing to accept the Biden administration’s justification for student loan forgiveness, based on Tuesday’s arguments.

In a statement given to The ReidOut Blog on Tuesday afternoon, Warren reiterated her claims that “if the Supreme Court fails to apply the law as it is written and uphold Biden’s student debt relief plan, it’s the most vulnerable Americans who will be harmed most.” She added that it’s incumbent on her and others to “push the Supreme Court to do its job and allow the president to cancel student debt.”

The organizations tapped for feedback in Warren’s report include the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, or UAW; the National Young Farmers Coalition; the NAACP; UNIDOS; and the Debt Collective. 

The groups sent letters to Warren’s office outlining how people they represent would be affected if student debt forgiveness were to be overturned. The report found that Biden has “the clear legal authority” to carry out his plan, and I’ve listed some of the other important findings below.

Low- and middle-class borrowers would benefit disproportionately from debt forgiveness, with women and nonwhite people as some of the prime beneficiaries.

  • UNIDOS, an advocacy group for Latinos, said: “Twelve years after starting college, 36% of Latino borrowers owed more than they originally borrowed.”
  • 1000 Women Strong, an advocacy group for Black women, said that on average, Black women hold significantly more student debt than white men and white women. And the group cited data showing that 57% of Black women report financial difficulties due to their student loans.

Young people aren’t the only ones affected by student debt.

  • Citing data from AARP, the report says: “By the end of 2020, borrowers 50 and older owed about 22 percent of the total student loan debt, representing a five-time increase since 2004.”
  • The National Consumer Law Center told Warren that student debt has been catastrophic for many older borrowers, saying that they “rely entirely on their Social Security payments for income, and, for the majority, the seizure from their Social Security payments either pushed them below the poverty level or further reduced payments that were already below the poverty level.” 

The conservative threats to student debt forgiveness are creating financial instability and uncertainty that affect the economy.

  • The National Young Farmers Coalition told Warren that 20% of respondents in a survey of young farmers “identified student loans as the main reason why they are not taking out additional loans to support or grow their farm businesses.” The number was disproportionately high for Black and Indigenous farmers. 
  • Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for people who are 18 to 34 years old, told Warren that student loan debt will weigh heavily on young adults’ “month-to-month home economy, delaying life milestones like purchasing a home, starting a business, or putting their children through college.”