New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a “Defend Democracy” rally, taking place on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., January 6, 2022.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Eight attorneys general, including those of New York, Illinois and Washington state, wrote a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, requesting that he forgive federal student debt for every borrower.
“While I commend President Biden for giving serious consideration to forgiving $10,000 per borrower, we must take bolder, more decisive action to end this crisis and provide Americans with the tools they need to thrive,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The attorneys general said the president has the authority to cancel the debt through executive action, an assertion some observers have contested.
Biden previously expressed hesitation to cancel federal student debt without congressional approval, but under intense pressure from advocates and Democratic legislators he has recently shown a willingness to use his own authority to reduce people’s debt loads.
Even before the pandemic, the country’s outstanding student loan debt balance exceeded $1.7 trillion, which represents a larger burden to households than credit card or auto debt. What’s more, about a quarter of student loan borrowers, or 10 million people, are estimated to be in delinquency or default.
“We are currently embroiled by a significant international conflict, our economy remains fragile and consumer prices for everyday necessities are spiking at rates unseen for decades,” the attorneys general wrote. “Now is not the time for half measures, extensions or patchwork solutions. Now is the time for decisive action.
“We call upon your administration to immediately exercise its authority to cancel federal student loan debt for every borrower.”
Attorneys general from Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Puerto Rico round out the group.