The recent Supreme Court ruling against the White House’s plan to forgive student loan debt has prompted President Biden and his fellow Democrats to launch a concerted effort to keep the issue in the spotlight throughout the upcoming political season.
The Democratic plan kicks off next week with a hearing on Biden’s “Plan B” for loan forgiveness
This timing could work in their favor as federal student loan holders will soon face a final deadline for repayment, coinciding with the 2024 election day. The legal battle surrounding Biden’s alternative loan forgiveness approach is also expected to unfold during the campaign.
Persis Yu, representing a newly-formed Democratic plan, states, “This is a fight that is happening in parallel.” The Democratic Party is drawing parallels between student loans and abortion, citing the voter backlash after the Supreme Court’s decision on terminating pregnancy rights, which led to strong midterm election results for the Democratic plan.
Cornell Law professor K. Sabeel Rahman compares student loans to the Dobbs case, acknowledging the Democratic plan messaging challenge faced by the Democrats. Public opinion polls on the matter have not yielded clear results, with a narrow majority supporting forgiveness.
Republicans have embraced the Supreme Court’s decision, arguing that the majority of Americans without student loan debt may not prioritize the issue during the campaign
President Biden, however, has vowed to keep the issue alive, citing Republican interference in debt relief efforts. To ensure the issue remains at the forefront, Biden unveiled his “plan B,” which includes introducing repayment bills in November 2023, just as the presidential primary season begins. He also announced a gradual repayment option and a second attempt at student loan forgiveness through the Higher Education Act.
The Democratic plan formed a new group called Protect Borrowers Action, aimed at holding officials accountable and linking select Republican members of Congress to the Supreme Court’s decision. The Democratic plan to highlight an amicus brief organized by Republicans opposing the debt relief program and subsequent votes against it.
While initially focusing on 13 House Republicans, the group intends to expand its efforts. Persis Yu emphasized their broader ambitions, indicating a determination to push the agenda forward.