Democrats worry young voter support may lag in midterms if Biden remains stagnant on student debt

by Trinity Cardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


With data persistently pointing to struggles in the upcoming midterm election, Democrats have begun to make louder their concerns that President Joe Biden has done too little to inspire college-aged people to come to the left’s rescue.

Biden, who last week enlisted the help of TikTok personalities to spin his economic and foreign policy efforts in a more positive light, has his eye on finding the type of youthful participation that aided Barak Obama in his first bid for the White House.

However, according to reports by both Politico and Insider, even members of the president’s own party think he’s missed the glaring issue on which the younger vote hinges: the forgiveness of student debt.

“The White House doesn’t seem to get that their base isn’t just old white people who want to hear ‘Fund the police,’” Max Lubin, CEO of Rise, Inc., a non-profit that advocates for free college, told Politico. “It’s young and racially diverse and we need student debt cancellation and climate action for young people to have a fair shot.”

Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as well as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have made student debt forgiveness central to their public messaging and are leading the chorus of complaints against Biden, showing further fractures in the Democratic party.

“College should be a ladder up for our young people, but because of student debt it’s too often an anchor,” Schumer tweeted in part last week.

 Warren expressed a similar sentiment Sunday.

“I graduated from a state school that cost $50 a semester,” Warren tweeted. “Every person in America should be able to go to college without being crushed by student debt. @POTUS should #CancelStudentDebt.”

 While Biden ran on promises of student debt relief, he’s thus far done nothing to address the matter, save extending the student-debt repayment freeze first enacted by then-President Donald Trump and tweaking the terms of loan forgiveness eligibility.

Biden has balked at the idea of using an executive order to forgive any student debt, saying he lacks such authority, even though numerous experts have argued he has the ability to end all student debt at the stroke of a pen.

The GOP has long stood in opposition to the idea of student loan forgiveness, saying it will further contribute to America’s inflation and deficit woes, while doing little to provide targeted relief to those who really need it.

Adam Looney of the Brookings Institute noted in an article written last year that even under a more moderate Democrat student loan forgiveness proposal the total price tag would prove to be astronomical.

Even $10,000 in debt forgiveness would involve a transfer that is about as large as the country has spent on welfare (TANF) since 2000 and exceeds the amount spent since then on feeding hungry school children in high-poverty schools through the school breakfast and lunch program. Likewise, it dwarfs spending on programs that help feed low-income pregnant women and infants or provide energy assistance to those who otherwise struggle to heat their homes in winter.

As first reported by Business Insider, Republicans are ramping up their efforts to not only prevent the forgiveness of student loans but block the White House from further extending the repayment pause.

While it is unclear just how much an effect a lack of action on student debt will have on voter turnout this fall, what has become evident is that Democrats face an uphill climb if it hopes to garner any excitement going into midterms.

A recent nationwide poll conducted by Impact Research, Fabrizio Lee, and the Wall Street Journal, revealed that 87% of eligible Americans intend to vote in the midterms, and 48% of those polled were ages 18-49, the age group most impacted by student debt.

Most troubling for Democrats, 63% of respondents said they viewed the nation as heading in the wrong direction. When asked about the Congressional elections, 44% of respondents said they’d vote Republican, compared to 41% for Democrats. That small window is where progressive Democrats likely hope to make up ground with concrete action on student debt.