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Joe Biden is calling on Congress to cancel $10,000 of student loans immediately.

Student Loans

Biden is following through on a campaign proposal to cancel $10,000 of student loans. The president-elect wants Congress to cancel student loan debt immediately.

“Immediate $10,000 forgiveness of student loans,” Biden said. “They’re having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent…It should be done immediately.”

Cancel Student Loans in Congress

Importantly, Biden is calling on Congress to act on student loan forgiveness. As a former U.S. senator from Delaware, Biden knows well that Congress has authority to decide federal spending, which includes student loans and student loan forgiveness. As such, Biden is deferring to Congress to pass relevant legislation on student loans, rather than act unilaterally as president.

Cancel Student Loans through Executive Order

Biden has not stated whether he would use an executive order to try to cancel student loans. A Biden spokesperson told Fox News that Biden specifically called upon Congress to forgive student loan debt. This is significant because it implies Biden is not focused on a proposal from Senate Democrats to cancel student loans through an executive order.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have proposed that the president should cancel up to $50,000 of student loans for every student loan borrower. Schumer and Biden want the president to bypass Congress and cancel student loans. They say that the Higher Education Act empowers the president to cancel student loans and doesn’t require further congressional approval. While the U.S. Secretary of Education has power to forgive student loans (e.g., due to fraud, disability or school closure, for example), it’s unlikely that a president unilaterally can cancel $50,000 of student loans for all 45 million borrowers. This may be why Biden is asking Congress to cancel student loan debt, rather than committing that he will enact student loan forgiveness through an executive order.

Cancel Student Loans: Biden Plan

Biden’s plan to cancel student loans is part of a broader strategy to make higher education more affordable and less financially burdensome. Biden’s plan includes, among other initiatives: tuition-free college, student loan forgiveness at public colleges and universities, student loan forgiveness and a revamped Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to help more borrowers get student loan forgiveness.

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Why $10,000 of student loan forgiveness?

Biden adopted the plan contained in the Heroes Act, which is the $3 trillion stimulus plan that House Democrats proposed. Arguably, it’s smaller than other plans to cancel student loans, which have ranged from $30,000 of student loan forgiveness (House Democrats) to all $1.6 trillion of student loans (Sen. Bernie Sanders). Importantly, the language in the Heroes Act (which is a legislative proposal and not law) does not provide student loan forgiveness for every borrower. Rather, only borrowers who have been struggling financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic would be eligible to “cancel student loans.” It’s unclear what the financial litmus test for student loan forgiveness would be, or if Congress would broaden the definition to include all student loan borrowers. Another reason for $10,000 of student loan forgiveness is that borrowers with the lowest student loan balances are among those with the highest student loan default rates. Many borrowers with low student loan balances struggle the most, and student loan forgiveness for these borrowers could help lower student loan default rates. This begs the question whether every borrower would be eligible for student loan forgiveness, or if Congress could impose income limits. Currently, Democrats appear to want student loan forgiveness for all borrowers, although that could change. Ultimately, the composition of Congress—specifically whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate—may dictate whether widespread, outright student loan forgiveness becomes law. Currently, Republicans control the U.S. Senate, and likely won’t support Biden’s plan to cancel student loans.

Next Steps

Watch the run-off elections in Georgia to determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. In the meantime, understand there are no guarantees that Biden or Congress will cancel student loans. What’s the best way to payoff student loans? Here are three smart approaches, all of which have no fees:

Joe Biden

Biden Administration Moves to Rejoin U.N. Human Rights Council

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President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the council in 2018, but the Biden administration plans to “engage with it in a principled fashion” going forward.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is scheduled to announce that the United States will “re-engage” with the United Nations Human Rights Council as an observer

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will move on Monday to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council, nearly three years after President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from it, a senior State Department official said on Sunday.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is scheduled to announce that the United States will “re-engage” with the council as an observer, the official said. “We intend to do so knowing that the most effective way to reform and improve the council is to engage with it in a principled fashion.”

Mr. Trump withdrew from the council, the world’s most important human rights body, in 2018 over what he and his allies called unfair targeting of Israel. The departure made the United States the first country to leave voluntarily.

President Biden pledged during the presidential campaign to rejoin the council and help overhaul. But doing so is likely to cause a political backlash: Mr. Trump’s allies have warned that rejoining would effectively allow the body to continue ignoring human rights abuses committed by council members such as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

Nikki R. Haley, who was the American ambassador to the United Nations when Mr. Trump withdrew from the council, has called it “a cesspool of political bias” and has warned against rejoining.

“If Biden rejoins the council whose membership includes dictatorial regimes & some of the world’s worst human rights violators,” Ms. Haley wrote on Twitter last month, “it will fly in the face of our fight for human rights.”

The United States will return to the council as a nonvoting observer, and full membership will be assessed later this year. The move, reported earlier by The Associated Press, comes at a time when nations facing widespread criticism for human rights abuses have tried to influence how the council assesses wrongdoing. China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela are all members.

At the same time, critics of the council have long accused it of dysfunction and of turning a blind eye to abuse by some members while punishing others. Last week, 40 House Republicans signed a letter urging Mr. Biden to rethink rejoining, saying the council was “disproportionately targeting” Israel over other members.

“Israel is the only country to be a permanent item on the council’s agenda,” the letter read. “This past year, the 43rd Human Rights Council Session adopted five resolutions condemning Israel, and only one each targeting Iran, Syria and North Korea.”

There are signs that the council is taking steps to change on its own. In January, Fiji, a nation with a record of supporting human rights causes, won election as president, a position that allows significant influence over setting the group’s priorities.

In recent years, Fiji has backed investigations into reported abuses in Venezuela, Belarus, Syria and Yemen, while encountering opposition from other members, including China.

The Biden administration is framing its decision as a way to accelerate those changes, and to rejoin a global community that Mr. Trump largely shunned during his time in office. In his first few weeks, Mr. Biden has rejoined the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, two frequent targets of the former president.

“We know that the council has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world,” the State Department official said in a statement. “By being present at the table, we seek to reform it and ensure it can live up to that potential.”

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Joe Biden

WATCH: Biden already working to rejoin Iran Nuclear Deal: report

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Senior Strategic Analyst General Jack Keane argues the U.S. has ‘got to be tougher’ when negotiating a new nuclear deal with Iran.

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Joe Biden

Pence Urges Biden to ‘Stand Up to Chinese Aggression’ in Indo-Pacific

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Vice President Mike Pence urged President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.

“As a new American administration prepares to take office, we do well to remember as Americans that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Pence said at the Naval Air Station Lemoore in Jan. 17. “And a free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to our prosperity, our security and the vitality of freedom in the world.”

The vice president said that the CCP “is determined to expand Beijing’s influence across the region through military provocations and dead diplomacy.”

“I urge the incoming administration to stay the course. Do what we’ve done. Stand up to Chinese aggression and trade abuses. Stand strong for a free and open Indo-Pacific and put America and our freedom-loving allies first,” Pence said.

Pence made the remarks during the last week of his service as the vice president and just days after the U.S. Department of State declassified a document outlining the administration’s overarching strategy in the Indo-Pacific. The strategy, in place since 2017, emphasized working with regional allies to counter the CCP’s ambitions in the region and highlighted Taiwan’s role in combating the Chinese regime’s military aggression.

“Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a memo dated Jan. 5 that accompanied the declassified document. “The U.S. approach is different. We seek to ensure that our allies and partners … can preserve and protect their sovereignty.”

The document, titled U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific, describes how the Chinese regime poses a threat to the United States and like-minded partners in the Indo-Pacific.

“China aims to dissolve U.S. alliances and partnerships in the region. China will exploit vacuums and opportunities created by these diminished bonds,” the strategy document states. “Chinese economic, diplomatic, and military influence will continue to increase in the near-term and challenge the U.S. ability to achieve its national interests in the Indo-Pacific region.”

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In terms of confronting the Chinese military, the U.S. strategy committed to “devise and implement a defense strategy capable of” three objectives: deny China sustained air and sea dominance inside the “first island chain” in a conflict; defend the first island chain nations, including Taiwan; and dominate all domains outside the first island chain.

The first island chain is an arbitrary demarcation from the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, Taiwan, the Philippines, to Indonesia. For decades, China’s military strategists have seen the first island chain as a barrier to the regime projecting its air and naval power to the second island chain and beyond. The second chain stretches from Japan to Guam and Papua New Guinea.

The U.S. strategy would “enable Taiwan to develop an effective asymmetric defense strategy and capabilities that will help ensure its security, freedom from coercion, resilience, and ability to engage China on its own terms,” the document adds.

Experts noted that the document’s language on Taiwan is a deviation from the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity”—meaning not clearly stating whether the U.S. government would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan despite its de facto nation-state status, with its own democratically elected government, military, and currency. The Chinese regime has repeatedly threatened to use military force to bring the island under its control.

(NTD)

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