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Schumer: Canceling $50k student debt 'makes sense' even if it doesn't help those who paid off loans

Sen. Schumer and Warren were asked about those arguing student loan forgiveness isn't fair to past borrowers and that it doesn't address rising college tuition costs

Updated: March 15, 2021 - 11:13pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says that canceling $50,000 of student loan debt "makes sense" even if it won't apply to borrowers who recently paid off their loans instead of buying their first home or using that money elsewhere. 

Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have called on President Biden to cancel $50,000 of student debt through executive order without Congress. The lawmakers have legislation to cancel up to that amount of student loans as well. Biden has said he is against those proposals. Instead, Biden has proposed $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for current borrowers.

Schumer and Warren were asked if student debt forgiveness is fair to graduates who recently finished paying off their college loans. The lawmakers were also asked how debt forgiveness addresses rising tuition costs at public and private universities.

"This could be used against any form of progress. We shouldn't have Social Security because the previous generations had to save money for their old age. We shouldn't have Medicare because everyone had to pay for health care before Medicare. This is real progress," Schumer responded Monday on a press call about tax free student loan forgiveness in Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. 

"And even though it won't help rectify some of the injustices of the past, it does rectify injustices of the present and future and so that makes a great deal of sense," he added.

Warren said a college diploma hasn't "paid off" for every borrower.

"They've experienced life, they've had babies, they're working three jobs, someone in the family got sick, the car broke down. There are many reasons as there are people who tried and couldn't quite make it and now find themselves earning at the level of a high school graduate, but trying to manage college level debt. Those people are getting crushed," she said. 

"Moreover, we know that because of other racial inequities, that people of color, don't get the same kind of payoff from a college diploma. They need it, but they may not earn as much and therefore get mired in debt," she added. "This is about progress, not only for the individual, but for our whole economy."

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez joined Schumer and Warren on the call in support cancelling $50,000 of student debt for existing borrowers.