Biden announces $1.2 billion in student debt forgiveness

President Biden announced the cancellation Wednesday of $1.2 billion in student loan debt for more than 150,000 borrowers, saying the relief will allow them to buy homes, start families and otherwise benefit the economy.

“Folks, I’m happy to have been able to forgive these loans because when we … relieve Americans of student debt, they are free to chase their dreams,” he told dozens of supporters at the Culver City Julian Dixon Library.

Biden tried to enact a far broader plan but was blocked by the Supreme Court. So he has used executive actions to cancel student debt totaling $138 billion for nearly 3.9 million people, according to the White House.

People who qualify for the new relief — who originally borrowed up to $12,000 and have been making monthly loan payments for at least 10 years — will receive an email from the president this week. They were enrolled in a program known as SAVE, which determines monthly debt repayment based on income and family size, and also shortens the life of loans for many borrowers.

“It’s all to do with … giving people a chance, a fighting chance to make it,” Biden said.

Biden’s quick appearance, an official White House event, comes as Democrats are increasingly worried about disenchantment among young voters who are a key part of the coalition Biden needs to motivate to turn out in the general election in the fall.

Republicans criticized the move as a cynical, taxpayer-funded ploy to burnish Biden’s reelection chances.

“Over 60 percent of Americans don’t have a college degree, but Joe Biden wants hardworking taxpayers to foot higher education bills for the elite few. Meanwhile, families are struggling with lower real wages, higher prices, and more credit card debt than they were four years ago,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “In Biden’s desperate attempt to use your money to buy votes, American families are left behind.”

Biden was joined at the event by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Sen. Alex Padilla and other California elected officials.

It was the president’s final event in a two-day swing through Los Angeles. Earlier in the day, Biden stopped by CJ’s Cafe in Baldwin Hills, ordered a breakfast burrito and posed for pictures with customers.

He headlined a major fundraiser Tuesday evening at media mogul Haim Saban’s sprawling Beverly Park estate. Biden told supporters, including actor Jane Fonda, that voters would have a “crystal clear” choice in the general election, when he will presumably have a rematch with former President Trump.

“Time and again, Republicans show they are a party of chaos and disunity. They shout about problems but offer nothing,” Biden told a couple of hundred people who paid as much as $250,000 to attend. “They have no platform.”

“Are they here to solve problems or just weaponize them for political attacks?” Biden said of the GOP, adding that in a second term, he would work to restore abortion and voting rights, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and Social Security, increase access to affordable housing and make corporations pay their fair share of taxes. “I’m here to serve the people.”

Saban and co-host Casey Wasserman, chair of LA28, the committee organizing the Los Angeles Olympics, both tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and could not attend the event.

Biden headed to the Bay Area on Wednesday afternoon, and will hold additional fundraisers there before leaving the state Thursday. This is probably Biden’s last trip to California before Super Tuesday on March 5, when California and more than a dozen other states hold primary elections.

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