Rep. Ayanna Pressley on student loans, the Supreme Court, Biden’s re-election

President Biden must find a way to write off student loan debt or suffer political consequences from Democratic coalitions that have lobbied the White House on this issue, says Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a guest this week on the “The Takeout” podcast.

“President Biden has yet to deliver that transformative help,” said Pressley, a prominent congresswoman and member of the so-called “Squad” of far-left Progressives and Democrats. “It is very consequential. There is a great financial panic for borrowers. Not only is this relief deeply needed and long overdue, but it is very popular. It was a medium-term motivating question. I call on the President Biden to deliver relief to the coalition that delivered them to the White House.”

Pressley called the Supreme Court annulment of Mr Biden’s executive action granting a “tone deaf” loan forgiveness.

“I think it’s callous,” Pressley said of the court’s ruling that Biden exceeded his legal authority by forgiving up to $10,000 to qualifying student loan holders and up to $10,000. to $20,000 to those with Pell loans and grants. “I think it’s not in line with the will of the majority of the people. They continue to write history for all the wrong reasons. They legislate from the bench.”

More than 43 million Americans could have qualified for the now stalled loan forgiveness program. The Supreme Court noted that the cost of implementing Mr. Biden’s executive action, $400 billion, would have made it the costliest executive action in history. The court ruled that the executive’s action went beyond the powers given to the Department of Education to “waive” or “modify” debt repayment under the Debt Relief Opportunity Act 2003. higher education for students (HEROES law).

“It’s really about racial justice,” Pressley said. “Black and brown students are borrowing and defaulting at higher rates. And if you look at black Americans, we’ve been shut out of every major federal aid program in this country, from the Homestead Act to the GI bill. , including redlining.”

Pressley said the White House must find other ways to use executive power to provide debt relief.

“Democrats get credit when we deliver,” Pressley said. “Not because they read a press release, but because they feel it.”

After the Supreme Court struck down his student loan forgiveness plan, Mr. Biden announced a new income-based repayment plan for federal loans that would cut monthly loan payments in half and shorten the term of loans under $12,000. Borrowers will also not be charged interest on their loans as long as they make their monthly payments, ensuring that their loan balance will not increase if they make their payments.

Pressley also endorsed ethics reforms for the Supreme Court, as well as adding more justices and eliminating lifetime appointments.

“The Supreme Court is right-wing, extreme, and lopsided right now,” Pressley said. “There are a lot of ethical things in question. We need a binding code of ethics to restore the integrity of the courts. Right now they are legislating from the bench. They are operating like a super legislature that has no not accountable to the people because of these lifetime appointments. Everything has to be on the table.

As for Mr Biden’s re-election campaign, Pressley said the president had made a “compelling legislative argument”.

“The Biden-Harris administration makes a compelling case, but we still have work to do,” Pressley said. “We still need paid time off. We need to make the child tax credit permanent. We still need universal child care. There’s still work to be done.”

Echoing the president, Pressley said the alternative in 2024 would be worse.

“I know what my chances are in a Biden-Harris administration,” Pressley said. “Under this House Republican majority, chaos is not the symptom. It’s the strategy. They’re anti-women, they’re anti-workers, they’re anti-immigrants. My fellow Republicans make the case for the Democrats every day with a cruel, insensitive and ineffectual manner in which they have ruled.”

Pressley was far more cautious in characterizing other potential challenges for Mr. Biden from outside the GOP.

On Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s main challenge against Mr. Biden, Pressley, once Hill’s aide to Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, took a long pause before speaking.

“Let me say this. It’s a democracy. It takes a lot of courage to assert yourself… It’s up to each candidate to come up with their vision.”

When asked if RFK Jr.’s candidacy could be a chaotic play by Republicans to complicate Mr. Biden’s political life, Pressley replied: “I won’t get into conspiracy theories and I won’t speculate. that way. I’m not an expert. Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and I’m focused on making the affirmative argument for Democrats.”

Of the Cornell West scholar’s candidacy, Pressley said, “I respect Dr. West. We’ve shared many, many steps. Each candidate will have the opportunity to make their case to the electorate.”

Pressley was also vague about No Labels’ effort to recruit a candidate to challenge Mr. Biden and former President Trump if they become the party’s leading contenders. Some Democrats worry that a No Labels candidate, if he emerges and gains traction, could siphon off the president’s votes in swing states.

“What I want is for people to feel seen,” Pressley said. “I make it a point to go door to door, to do the mobilization work, not just in an election cycle. That’s what Democrats have to do as well. We can’t just hire people from of a transaction dynamic.”

Executive producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Producer: Eric Soussanin
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Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

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