Biden’s remarks about student debt in 2021 caused staff in the White House to appease progressives, says new book

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FIRST ON FOX: Statements made by President Biden in Wisconsin last year created a tug-of-war between moderate and progressive Democrats over forgiving student debts and forced some from the White House to clean up the president’s remarks, according to an upcoming book by two New York Times reporters.

An excerpt provided to Fox News from Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns’ forthcoming book, “This will not last: Trump, Biden and the fight for America’s future“describes the stony response from progressives after Biden made it clear that he was not open to the idea of ​​forgiving a large portion of the student loan debt, especially to those who went to Ivy League schools.

President Biden attends a CNN City Hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wis., February 16, 2021.

President Biden attends a CNN City Hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wis., February 16, 2021.
(Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking at Milwaukee City Hall in February 2021, Biden rejected an audience call on his administration to forgive at least $ 50,000 in student loans to Americans across the country.

“I do not want that to happen,” Biden said. “It depends on whether you go to a private university or a public university.”

SCHUMER SAYS THE BID IS CLOSER TO CANCELLATION OF UP TO $ 50,000 IN STUDENT DEBT: CONVERSATIONS “HAVE BEEN VERY FRUITFUL”

According to the book, Biden, who told the audience at City Hall that he was uninterested in forgiving “the billions of dollars in debt for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn”, apparently associated “huge debt with fancy universities.”

Biden’s comments sent his staff, including Chief of Staff Ron Klain, into a spiral as they tried to change what the president said in an attempt to appease the progressive wing of the party. That wing had urged him to forgive more than the $ 10,000 he had originally promised, the authors explained.

Despite Biden’s own remarks, Klain, according to the book, spoke privately “with several congressional supporters of debt forgiveness to assure them that his boss had no intention of taking such a firm stance.”

“A lawmaker who spoke to Ron Klain recalled that he cautiously said that sometimes Biden gets a little entangled in his public statements,” the authors wrote. “When a group of House progressives raised the issue again with Klain at a meeting several weeks later, the trusted aide alluded to Biden’s comments as a mistake.”

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“We fixed it the next day, didn’t we?” Klain said of Biden’s remarks, according to a lawmaker’s memoir mentioned in the book.

It was reported this week that Biden told members of Congress that he is looking at the possibilities of forgiving student loans through executive action.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerDN.Y., suggested that Biden come closer to canceling up to $ 50,000 in student loan debt for borrowers.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., at the Capitol in Washington on June 22, 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., at the Capitol in Washington on June 22, 2021.
(AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

“I will continue to urge the President to take this important step. And I say to my colleagues, I think the President is moving in our direction,” Schumer said from the Senate. “My conversations with him and his staff have been very fruitful lately, and I hope he will do the right thing. We are getting closer.”

Speaking about the break in loan payments, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the president’s executive action is on the table.

“He will make a decision before there is an end to that break,” Psaki said. “Right now it’s been extended to August … and he’s looking at other options for executive.

Progressive pressures Biden to completely forgive student loan debt via executive order. They say the crushing debt that hangs over the heads of many college graduates is forcing them to postpone major life decisions, and that student debt is disproportionately affecting minorities.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a White House press briefing on March 4, 2022.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a White House press briefing on March 4, 2022.
(AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

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Federal student loan payments were first put on hold in response to the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns in May 2020 under former President Donald Trump. But as the economy left the pandemic, Biden extended that pause several times after taking office, drawing criticism from Republicans.

The book will be published on 3 May.

Fox News’ Paul Best and Tyler Olson contributed to this article.

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