White House not budging on Feb. 1 end to student loans forgiveness

Someone familiar with what happened in the conversation described aense meeting on Wednesday. Loan forgiveness advocates told Biden's domestic policy and economic teams that lifting the loan repayment pause was bad politically. A second source familiar with the conversation said that they wanted to sound the alarm to them about the mistake they were about to make.

Biden's team was not moved.

Multiple sources familiar with what was said at the meeting described the administration's message as effectively that borrowers had two years to prepare for this and knew the pause wouldn't last forever. One administration official suggested in the meeting that student loan payments should be resumed in order to get back to normal.

The first source familiar with the conversation said that the White House "pulled that kind of bullsh-- of the economy being strong, which is devoid of reality." The stock market may be better. The unemployment numbers are better. It is completely delusional in terms of wages and how people are feeling.

Debt forgiveness advocates see the consequences of lifting the pause as dire. Not everyone is feeling the effects of the economy. A new coronaviruses variant is causing widespread unease. Going into an election cycle, a decision like this could affect turnout and enthusiasm, especially among younger voters, who are already unreliable.

The vice president of Color of Change didn't attend the meeting but described the political outlook this way: "Our early research showed that people would be making political decisions based on that issue." Lots of people were wondering what the narrative was, what the story was, and what the push was when you combine it with the economic agenda that Democrats are pushing.

The debt forgiveness advocates left the meeting feeling like the White House doesn't have a full plan in place. A third person familiar with the meeting said it felt like the tail wagging the dog. A number of months ago, someone said that we couldn't keep this thing paused forever. Everybody went into execution mode, and nobody stopped to think about what they were doing. We are here now.

The White House declined to comment on the record about the meeting, but administration officials insisted that the loan repayment pause was always meant to be temporary, and pointed to actions the administration has already taken in this realm.

One administration official said to expect announcements in the coming weeks and months on what resources will be available so that borrowers who have already been struggling through the pandemic can hop on the right payment plan.

The official said that the Department of Education is taking a number of steps to make sure it is not just some sort of cold turkey situation. We are doing everything we can to do right by the borrowers.

Administration officials said that no final determination has been made on the Department of Education review of whether Biden has the authority to cancel at least $10,000 of student debt per borrower. If Congress can pass the student loan forgiveness bill, Biden will sign it into law.