Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., renewed her demand for the cancellation of student loan debt in a floor speech Thursday, arguing the financial burden on young Americans was "getting ridiculous."
Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives have called on President Biden to cancel student loan debt by executive order. So far, Biden has resisted the push, arguing such a move should occur through congressional action.
"It’s teenagers signing up for what is often hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. We just do that. Our government allows that," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We give 17-year-olds the ability to sign on and sign up for $100,000 worth of debt and we think that’s responsible policy."
Total student loan debt was estimated to be $1.73 trillion as of September, according to the Federal Reserve. A lengthy pause in payments on federal student loans implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic is set to expire in January.
Ocasio-Cortez also pushed back on claims from critics of her proposal who say a cancellation would benefit wealthy Americans. Biden made a similar assertion during a CNN town hall last February, noting it would mean canceling debt "for people who have gone to Harvard and Yale and Penn."
"I’m greatly looking forward to the Biden administration canceling student loan debt and no longer advancing the false narratives that student loan debt is for the privileged. What a ridiculous assertion. Do we really think that a billionaire’s child is taking student loans?"
Ocasio-Cortez has regularly asserted Biden should cancel student loan debt entirely during the pandemic. In October, the New York lawmaker reiterated her stance amid negotiations on Biden’s social spending bill.
At the time, she quipped that the president wouldn’t need "permission" from moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to act. Manchin has clashed with progressives over his cost of Biden’s signature legislation.