Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) delivered fiery speeches in favor of student debt cancellation on the steps of the Supreme Court on Tuesday as justices heard oral arguments challenging President Joe Biden’s groundbreaking debt forgiveness plan.
Joining over 500 students, debtors and advocates in a rally organized by the Student Borrower Protection Center, the lawmakers said that Biden has the legal authority to cancel student debt and that the court case boils down to partisan posturing in a concerted effort by conservative elites to suppress the working class.
Sanders said that, as corporations and the wealthy are working to keep younger generations of the working class trapped in debt and working for low wages, they are setting up young people to have a worse standard of living than previous generations had. He also reiterated his longtime call for free public education.
“In this wealthy country, we should understand that education, from child care to graduate school, is a human right. It should be free to all. And our fight right now is to at least make public colleges and universities tuition free,” Sanders said. “In America, you should not have to face financial ruin because you want a damn education.”
“Today we say to the Supreme Court: listen to the needs of millions of struggling people. People want a middle class life, but are buried in debt. Do the right thing. Support Biden’s proposal. Cancel student debt,” he continued.
Warren and Sanders were joined by fellow progressive and Democratic House Representatives Cori Bush (D-Missouri), Maxwell Frost (D-Florida), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts).
Warren passionately defended the administration’s legal right to cancel student debt in her speech, saying that conservative activists and judges are hypocritically flouting the law in order to continue suppressing the working class.
“I am fired up. I am fired up to defend student loan debt cancellation for more than 40 million Americans. I am fired up to tell the United States Supreme Court to follow the law and get out of the way so we can cancel this debt,” she said. “We are here today — and let me be very clear about this — we are here today because President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student loan debt.”
Warren has spent recent years compiling evidence from experts and advocates demonstrating the legal case for student debt cancellation. She has said that the lawsuit now before the Supreme Court shows that conservatives prioritize the profits of loan servicers over the financial wellbeing and lives of the working class.
On Monday, Warren released a report containing a number of personal accounts from student loan debtors about the impacts that nixing the Biden administration’s forgiveness plan would have, saying that it would amount to “financial ruin for millions” if the Supreme Court strikes down the plan, as it appeared poised to do before it heard arguments on Tuesday.
“We are hearing from people who were not born rich, but whose big sin was to try to get an education. It is not right to deny people education because they were not born into rich families,” Warren said. “If the Supreme Court follows the law instead of playing politics, then student loan debt will be canceled.”
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