AOC Clashes With Joe Biden on Student Loans After CNN Town Hall

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has criticized President Joe Biden after he indicated that he would not be cancelling $50,000 in student loans via executive action.

During a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, when asked his view on favoring student loan forgiveness of $50,000 per borrower which progressives have been calling for, he replied: "I will not make that happen."

Instead, he reiterated his support for forgiving $10,000 of debt, a figure which he had touted on the campaign trail. He said that money would be better spent on early childhood education and free community colleges.

He suggested that if higher amounts of student loans were forgiven, this would favor graduates from more elite schools who ended up earning more. Biden has always argued that $10,000 forgiveness would be help those on lower incomes more.

"I understand the impact of debt and it can be debilitating," Biden said. "But I do think that in this moment of economic pain and strain that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, number one and number two, I'm prepared to write off a $10,000 debt, but not $50,000. I don't think I have the authority to do it by signing."

The New York Democrat, who has been among progressives lobbying for the higher figure, took aim at Biden's statement.

"Who cares what school someone went to?" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Entire generations of working class kids were encouraged to go into more debt under the guise of elitism. This is wrong. Nowhere does it say we must trade-off early childhood education for student loan forgiveness. We can have both," she added.

1. Who cares what school someone went to? Entire generations of working class kids were encouraged to go into more debt under the guise of elitism. This is wrong.

2. Nowhere does it say we must trade-off early childhood education for student loan forgiveness. We can have both. https://t.co/5oPKeMfV3r

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 17, 2021

Last week, Ocasio-Cortez said during an Instagram Q&A that the Biden administration needed to be pushed on $50,000 student loans forgiveness.

Her call has the backing of other Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

They were among Democrats that reintroduced a bicameral resolution appealing to Biden to use executive action to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt for every borrower. Schumer has described student debt as "a huge anchor on our entire economy."

When Biden took office, he extended the pause on student loan payments and interest owing to the coronavirus, meaning federal student loan borrowers will not have to make payments until October 1 at the earliest.

Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: "The President has and continues to support canceling $10,000 of federal student loan debt per person as a response to the COVID crisis."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at Capitol Hill February 4, 2021. She has criticized President Joe Biden for not committing to forgiving $50,000 of student loan debt. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images