On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” White House Senior Adviser for Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms responded to questions on how President Joe Biden’s student loan cancelation program will be paid for by stating that President Biden “has done a very in-depth analysis in looking at whether or not the country can afford to give this relief to borrowers across this country,” and has consulted with his economic advisers.
Host Jake Tapper asked, “Let me start with the fact that Wharton estimates that this plan is going to cost somewhere between 300 billion and 980 billion over ten years. What is the actual number, do you think, and how does this get paid for?”
Bottoms responded, “Well, what we know is that the President has done a very in-depth analysis in looking at whether or not the country can afford to give this relief to borrowers across this country, and what we know is that nearly 45 million people, if they take advantage of this program, will be eligible for loan forgiveness. That will be $10,000 for borrowers who are not Pell Grant eligible and up to $20,000 or $20,000 for those who are Pell Grant eligible. So, this is a huge boost to many across the country who have been looking for some relief in the midst of this pandemic, and the president has kept his commitment. So, in terms of the numbers, I will defer to the president’s economic advisers in terms of those concrete numbers. But what we know for many families across the country, this is much-needed relief and very much appreciated.”
Tapper then asked, “But am I correct in assuming there isn’t a pay-for mechanism? Because President Biden — this is a campaign promise, but President Biden also made the campaign promise that everything he proposed would be paid for. That was an item that Jason Furman, who chaired the National Economic Council under President Obama cited in a Twitter thread slamming this move. He said this is all pouring roughly [half a trillion dollars of] ‘gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning’, he called it ‘reckless.’ What do you say to Jason Furman?”
Bottoms responded, “Well, there’s a reason that President Biden has taken his time in making this decision, Jake. As you know, there are many people who wanted him to make a decision immediately. But the president has been very deliberate in consulting with his economic advisers and making sure that the country could afford to give this relief to borrowers. And what we know is that there are many people who have borrowed money, many people who have worked really hard to pay for college, and student loan debt is something that has just saddled millions of people across America. And this is a game-changer for many families across America. What we know is that, even with the $10,000 in relief, that there are many people who will have their student loans completely wiped out. That is huge. That is significant for families across this country, and I know that the president has been very deliberate in making this decision and making sure that this is not something that will be a burden to taxpayers across America, but this is something that will benefit students and families across this country.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett