Joe Biden didn’t mention student loan debt once during State of the Union

When President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, there was one major issue conspicuous by its absence: student loan debt.

During the campaign, Biden repeatedly pledged to forgive student loan debt — and it was highlighted as part of his administration’s plan to advance racial equity.

Americans collectively hold about $1.75 trillion in student debt. In December, the Biden administration extended a pause on student loan repayments until May 1, 2022, citing the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some advocates hoped the president would outline a plan to write off student loan debt during Tuesday night’s speech.

Although he mentioned plans to tackle college affordability, including increasing the maximum Pell Grant, the issue of the student debt crisis was not raised at all during the speech of 62 minutes from Biden.

“President Biden may not have felt compelled to address student loans in his speech, but the reality is that very few people will be forced to start paying their loans on May 1,” said Alan Collinge, founder of the local organization Students Loans Justice. , Recount Newsweek.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol Chamber March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images

“This loan system is a catastrophic failure, and nothing the president can say – or not say – will change that fact.”

Collinge added that Biden can “maybe spend the next three years pretending this lending system is still legit, or (possibly) the next seven years replacing this failed experiment with a higher education funding model that actually works”.

In a progressive response to Biden’s speech, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Biden could “use his executive power to act now to serve the people” on issues like canceling student loan debt.

“He can cancel federal student loan debt, which would be a lifeline for millions of Americans and a transformative economic stimulus,” she said, speaking on behalf of the Working Families Party.

Many people also took to Twitter to note Biden’s failure to mention the issue and urge him to take action.

“My favorite part of the State of the Union tonight was when @POTUS talked about all the reasons Americans are struggling financially EXCEPT crushing student debt,” Rachel Bridges wrote. “If you want to relieve people of rising inflation, #CancelStudentDebt now.”

Briahna Joy Gray, former publicist for Bernie Sanders, wrote: “A reminder that @POTUS promised to forgive student loan debt for all #HBCU graduates, may do so by fiat and chooses not to. make.”

Ahead of Biden’s speech, the nonprofit Student Borrower Protection Center and Data for Progress released the results of a new poll that found a majority of likely voters support the government’s action to nullify all or part of student loan debt.

Support is higher among people of color – with 74% of black potential voters and 82% of Latino potential voters saying the government should eliminate some or all student loan debt.

“When Joe Biden ran for president, he promised to take bold steps to close the racial wealth gap by canceling student debt for everyone,” SBPC Executive Director Mike Pierce said. in a statement ahead of the State of the Union address.

“We know most Americans in debt are worried about what it means to add a student loan bill on top of the rising cost of basic necessities. As President Biden addresses an anxious nation faced with war abroad and a lingering pandemic at home, Americans who put it to work can no longer wait for it to deliver.”

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