Biden mulls forgiving millions in student loans | News, Sports, Jobs

President Joe Biden’s hints that he may cancel some student loan debt could have a particularly strong effect in Pennsylvania, where former students are weighted down by above-average debt loads.

This week, Biden suggested – first to a group of Democratic Congress members, then to the press – that he may cancel some of debtors’ federal loans.

“I’m not considering $ 50,000 in debt reduction,” Biden said Thursday. “But I am in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness.”

Studies from various agencies show Pennsylvania student debtors owe well over $ 30,000 and perhaps $ 40,000 on average, with the dollar sum rising to the tens of billions. Fourteen percent of Pennsylvanians owe student loan debt, most of them under the age of 35, according to the Education Data Initiative, a group that collects debt statistics.

Action on student debt is widely popular, particularly so among the young Democrats voters need to stave off congressional defeats in November. During the 2020 election, Biden campaigned on forgiving $ 10,000 in student loans for every borrower, although it’s unclear how much he may forgive if he moves forward now.

Republicans have already used the issue to mock Biden and his supporters.

“Other bribe suggestions: Forgive auto loans? Forgive credit card debt? Forgive mortgages? ” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah tweeted. “And put a wealth tax on the super-rich to pay for it all.”

And GOP House members are already moving to exempt members of Congress from any possible legislative forgiveness. The so-called Can’t Cancel Your Own Debt Act, which would bar federal lawmakers from benefiting from forgiveness, has drawn cosponsorships from Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th District.

Federal student loan payments have been suspended for most of the pandemic coronavirus, giving advocates time to raise pressure on the Biden administration for deeper relief. Loans held by private lenders have still had to be repaid.

Reps move to limit Philly DA

State GOP lawmakers are moving to force Philadelphia’s reformist district attorney out by law.

The state House passed a bill 115-88 this week that would limit the local district attorneys to two terms. If it became law, it would mean this is the last term for Larry Krasner, the progressive prosecutor who has clashed with the country police union and conservatives.

While the bill is specific to Philadelphia, it’s part of a nationwide pushback against progressives who won top law-enforcement jobs in US cities in recent years. Krasner won in 2017 and was easily re-elected in 2021, joined by reform-minded prosecutors in cities like San Francisco.

In some cases, conservatives and law-and-order politicians in the affected cities have called for the prosecutors’ removal, blaming them for crime spikes. State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Center, called for Krasner’s impeachment earlier this year; San Francisco’s left-wing district attorney Chesa Boudin faces an ongoing recall effort.

Law would ban faithless electors

A state legislator is moving to head off the risk of Electoral College chaos by barring Pennsylvania’s electors from switching their votes to a losing presidential candidate.

State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphia, is looking for support for a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to act as a “Faithless elector” – that is, an elector who casts a vote for a candidate who won a smaller share of the state’s popular vote. The bill would also require faithless electors to be replaced, eliminating the possibility of a swapped vote.

Under the Electoral College, states send delegations to cast their presidential votes on behalf of the voting population. While most states award their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, some split them proportionally (some lawmakers have tried, and failed, to establish that policy in Pennsylvania).

While faithless electors are historically not a major consideration, they posed a serious question in the 2020 election.

Supporters of former president Donald Trump moved to appoint their own slates of unrecognized electors, including in Pennsylvania; in many cases, voters called on lawmakers to swap the official sets with replacements who would back Trump.

“Though the fear of faithless electors never materialized in 2020,” Boyle told colleagues, “The possibility alone adds a potential threat to the state popular vote, as well as to voter confidence in the value of their ballot.”


Ryan Brown covers statewide politics for Ogden Newspapers. His column appears every other week. He can be reached at

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