Pelosi Changes Her Tune: Loan Relief Is 'Bold Action,' No Mention of Biden-Can't-Do-This

Susan Jones | August 25, 2022 | 7:51am EDT
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(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

( - In a statement on Wednesday following President Biden's announcement on student debt relief, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the move by the executive branch:

“President Biden’s bold action is a strong step in Democrats’ fight to expand access to higher education and empower every American to reach fulfillment," she wrote:

"By delivering historic targeted student debt relief to millions of borrowers, more working families will be able to meet their kitchen table needs as they continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic. Importantly, this action will help those most in need, easing a financial burden disproportionately harming women and people of color.

“Guided by President Biden’s commitment to justice and equity, Democrats have led the charge to support students through the hardships of the pandemic and to open the gates of higher education for those who have long been left behind."

Pelosi mentioned various Democrat-passed bills that have "invested" in education. "At the same time, Democrats continue to fight for strong K-12 public schools, affordable community college and lifetime learning for workers, so that every American can succeed in the 21st Century," she said.

Contrast her approval of Biden's announcement with what Pelosi said last year.

At a July 28, 2021 press conference, a reporter asked Pelosi about the Democrat push to cancel student loan debt.

"Here's the thing," Pelosi responded:

"People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness.  He does not.  He can postpone.  He can delay.  But he does not have that power.  That has to be an act of Congress.  And I don't even like to call it forgiveness because that implies a transgression.  It's not to be forgiven, just freeing people from those obligations.

"So, the question of who gets forgiven – to use the term of art that is out there – is a debate.  Do we use whatever money there is for the broadest base of support of the, those with – more people with even less debt, or fewer people with more debt?  That's a policy discussion.

"But the difference between the President – the President can't do it.  So that's not even a discussion.  Not everybody realizes that.  But the President can only postpone, delay, but not forgive."

In that same news conference, Pelosi addressed the fairness question of helping some Americans at the expense of others:

"So, this is a broader discussion, but it is – it's not one that we're going solve right here and now.  But you, you – that would be an attitude that people would have.  But even take it on top of that, suppose your family was not – your child just decided they want to – at this time, not want to go to college, but you're paying taxes to forgive somebody else's obligations.  You may not be happy about that.

"But you know what?  We want all of our kids to reach their fulfillment. To the extent that they want to go to college, we do not want them to be prohibited from doing that for financial reasons. I've had high school students come in here and say, with their grades, they're able to be accepted in the Ivy League here and there, but their families' economic situation does not enable that to happen because they have to stay close to home, to work, to be part of the family situation.

"So what we'd like to do is have an economy that is fair, that gives opportunity and does not hold anybody back because of financial reasons.  And, again, how some people may view the relieving people of this obligation has to be viewed in a fair way, where we have something that gives opportunity – that's the big word – opportunity to all of America's families."

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