Will Biden's Student Debt Plan Payoff Come November? | Crooked Media
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April 08, 2024
What A Day
Will Biden's Student Debt Plan Payoff Come November?

In This Episode

  • President Joe Biden on Monday announced another round of student debt relief that could help tens of millions of borrowers. He made the announcement in Madison, Wisconsin, a major college town in a swing state that’s key to the president’s re-election effort. We talk to Braxton Brewington, press secretary for The Debt Collective, an organization dedicated to student debt cancellation. He gives his opinion on whether Biden’s plan will be enough to energize young voters heading into November.
  • And in headlines: Former President Donald Trump said states should have the final say on abortion access, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a date has been set for the invasion of Rafah, and Missy Elliot announced her first-ever solo headlining tour.
Show Notes:




Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, April 9th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Andersen. And this is What a Day, the pod that screamed with so much excitement during yesterday’s total eclipse I almost lost my voice. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I did lose my voice. It was definitely because of the eclipse. Not trying to corral a horde of little children last weekend on spring break. It was excitement about the eclipse. [music break] On today’s show, Trump said he’d take a position on abortion that both sides could be happy with. But now that it’s out, no one is happy. Plus, Missy Elliott announces her first ever headlining tour. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, President Biden is trying once again to give folks some much needed student debt relief. On Monday, he announced a new effort to help 30 million borrowers who, like myself, still owe on these loans we got to fund our education. Here he is in Wisconsin, announcing the plan. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] I will never stop to deliver student debt relief from hardworking Americans. And it’s only in the interest of America that we do it. And again, it’s for the good of our economy. It’s growing stronger and stronger and it is by freeing millions of Americans from this crushing debt of student debt, it means they can finally get on with their lives instead of their life being put on hold. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay, I love the idea of getting on with my life because I am under crushing debt. But break it down for us. What is in this plan exactly? What does it mean? 


Tre’vell Anderson: The plan, if it’s finalized as it’s currently proposed, would, according to the administration, help working and middle class families and advance racial equality because it would address the uneven debt burden of communities of color, especially. They basically identified five groups of borrowers who’d get some relief, which include folks who owe more now than they did when they started repaying their loans, among others. Under the plan, more than 10 million people would get at least $5,000 in relief. It would cancel the full student debt for over 4 million people, and it would fully eliminate that godforsaken accrued interest for 23 million. But of course, I wanted to go a bit deeper beyond the highlights of the plan and hear from student debt relief advocates. I called up Braxton Brewington. He’s the press secretary for the Debt Collective, an organization dedicated to student debt cancellation. And I started by asking about his initial assessment of the announcement and plan. 


Braxton Brewington: I think some of the best parts is making some of the most broken parts of the student debt system work a little bit better. So, for example, there are lots of people who are eligible, say, for public service loan forgiveness or income driven repayment plans, and they’re not enrolled in these plans. And what the Biden administration is doing is instead of begging people to enroll in these plans, they’re identifying people who are eligible for these plans and just automatically canceling their debts. This means hundreds of thousands, if not millions more are going to get much more relief. The other thing that they’re doing is canceling up to $20,000 worth of interest. I think this sounds enticing to people, because interest is a big reason of why there is such ballooning student loan debt. I think the problem with that is a lot of people are not actually going to get their debts fully canceled just because they’ve eliminated that relief. So it’s kind of like saying, you know, we are going to bring you back to the original balance that you borrowed because a lot of people have paid back their balance twice, sometimes three times over. And so canceling that interest definitely brings their total balance down. But it really means they kind of have to start back from where they were. The other part of this policy is addressing hardship. So basically what the Biden administration is saying is if you’ve experienced some unique type of hardship, we are going to provide relief. We don’t know exactly what they mean by that. They haven’t exposed those details. But that is a very large lane that you should be able to drive a lot of relief through. But for some people it could mean full cancellation. For other people, it really could be kicking the can down the road. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. Now, this is just the latest action that Biden has taken on loan forgiveness after the Supreme Court blocked his administration’s initial plan to provide relief to 43 million borrowers last summer. And since then, he’s used these existing programs to try to cancel thousands of dollars in debt for folks who were, you know, defrauded by for profit colleges or folks who work in public service. Side note, journalist should be considered public servants so that I can get my loans cleared. But we’ll tap on that later. 


Braxton Brewington: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I want to ask you, do you think that he has done a good job at coming up with these plans for forgiveness in the face of the high court’s decisions and this other pushback that we’re seeing from the GOP? 


Braxton Brewington: I’m going to have to say no. There’s been several tools in the Biden administration’s disposal that they haven’t quite used yet. For example, there’s a lot of people who are eligible to have their debts cancelled because they were defrauded by a for profit college. As of now, the Biden administration hasn’t reached out to those people and even encouraged them to apply for relief, let alone automatically identify those people as having been defrauded and then canceling their debts. Right. There’s like a half dozen examples just like that, where the Biden administration has a lot of student debt that they could just wipe away, but they’re still moving at a pretty glacial pace. But I think this proposal is a good step forward. 


Tre’vell Anderson: According to his announcement, this new plan is expected to roll out by this fall. Obviously on this show, we are we’re thinking toward the election that is is happening, will be happening then. If this plan is set to roll out in the fall, by then will it be too late, you think, to win people over, to win over the folks who are like you campaigned on, you know, wiping out my student loan debt. And, you know, four years later, here we are. And I still got to pay these people $600 a month. Do you think it will be too late? 


Braxton Brewington: Yes and no. I mean, this is why we really encouraged the Biden administration to cancel student debt within the first 100 days. Once you cancel student debt, people then can go and purchase a home. They can start a family. They can start a small business. They can start to rethink of their lives as being one with dignity. When you cancel the debt a couple weeks before the election, right? That’s super exciting. But people haven’t been able to reap the economic benefits yet. And so part of what we’ve been saying is the sooner you cancel this debt, the quicker you will start to reap those political rewards. But also, I’m not sure if we have that time to wait until the fall to implement relief. I mean, if you think about two years ago, the Biden administration announced a policy. 50 days later, there was a preliminary injunction. There was a halt to student debt relief, and it went to the courts and they shot it down. We’ve pressed the Biden administration to say, hey, like, learn from your mistakes, actually cancel the debt super quickly, and then tell us about it. Then we can champion that relief. What we’ve gotten right now is actually an announcement of an announcement. Right. And so what we’re worried about are actually right wing litigants who now have already had a dry run at working against student debt relief, who are likely going to be able to move much quicker in terms of stopping this. So the Biden administration, if anything, needs to escalate their timeline on when they’re delivering relief, the fall is going to be way too late. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That was my conversation with Braxton Brewington, press secretary for the Debt Collective. The Department of Education said it will release a formal draft of the plan in the coming months for public comment. The hope is that the rule will be finalized by November 1st. We’ll link to Biden’s official announcement so you can read it for yourselves, as well as the Debt Collective in our show notes, so you can learn more about their work and the resources that they’ve made available to borrowers. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break] 




Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Former President Donald Trump made his big policy announcement on abortion yesterday by basically sidestepping the issue entirely. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said the issue of abortion access should be left to the states. Here’s part of the video he posted to Truth Social. 


[clip of Donald Trump] The states will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case, the law of the state. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s almost too genius. Trump also took credit for the Supreme Court decision in 2022 that overturned Roe v Wade, and even though he helped set the stage for Roe to fall by appointing three conservative justices, he has spent the years since waffling on the issue because it has proven to be really unpopular. Trump has long promised a deal on abortion that would make people on both sides of the issue happy. So naturally, nearly everybody is angry about his announcement. President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign responded with this video. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] If MAGA Republicans put a federal ban on his desk, he’d sign it. Donald Trump is the reason Roe has ended. If you reelect me, I’ll be the reason why it’s restored. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Meanwhile, some of the harshest criticism came from Trump’s own party. The head of the anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, that’s too many words for a group, said in a statement the organization was, quote, “deeply disappointed in Trump.” His former vice president, Mike Pence, said on X that the position was a, quote, “slap in the face to his voters.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Turning now to Trump’s many legal problems, a New York appeals court judge yesterday denied the former president’s last ditch effort to delay his Manhattan hush money trial. That trial is scheduled to start next week. In an emergency hearing earlier Monday, Trump’s lawyers asked to postpone the trial indefinitely while they sought a venue outside of Manhattan. Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up payments he made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in the lead up to the 2016 election. But it wasn’t the only legal delay tactic Trump took yesterday, the New York Times reported his legal team also planned to sue the presiding judge in the case, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan. Citing anonymous sources, the paper said Trump’s lawyers want to challenge the judge’s gag order that prevents the former president from attacking the families of both the judge and the Manhattan district attorney bringing the case. As of our recording at 9:30 eastern, the Times said that the court documents had not been made public. But assuming this stall tactic fails as well and the trial continues as expected next week, Trump will become the first former U.S. president in history to face a criminal trial. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And one of the first people ever to try to sue the judge of the trial, that’s also groundbreaking. Now for some updates out of Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday in a video posted to X, that there is a date set for the Israeli invasion of Rafah, which is one of the last refuges in Gaza for displaced Palestinians. He said that to achieve victory over Hamas, it would, quote, “require entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there.” He did not mention what that date is however. Meanwhile, Palestinians began returning to the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis after Israeli troops withdrew some forces over the weekend. Videos from multiple news outlets show that people are coming back to an absolutely devastating scene. They’re finding their homes destroyed. Scavenging through rubble to see if anything is salvageable. It’s just heartbreaking. As the Associated Press reported earlier this year, Israel’s military assault on Gaza has been one of the most destructive and deadliest offensives in modern history, and a cease fire deal is still in the works. CIA director Bill Burns met with mediators in Cairo over the weekend and made a proposal that could lead to a six week temporary ceasefire. That would be the longest pause in fighting since the October 7th attacks. It would include Israel’s demand that Hamas release 40 Israeli hostages. It would also include Hamas’s demand that hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel be released. The deal would also permit Palestinians to return to northern Gaza. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Actor Jonathan Majors is not going to jail. The Creed III star was sentenced to a year long in person domestic violence intervention program in a Manhattan criminal court on Monday. Majors was convicted in December of third degree reckless assault and a noncriminal charge of harassment, that’s related to a domestic dispute during a chauffeured car ride with his former girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, back in March 2023. Jabbari was present in the courtroom and read a victim impact statement, telling the court that, quote, “he is not sorry, he has not accepted responsibility and he will do this again.” Majors did not make a statement citing a pending civil case with the Jabbari. She is suing him for other instances of abuse unrelated to the March 2023 dispute. His lawyer says they plan to appeal the December conviction. His sentence to attend the in-person batterers intervention program has to be approved by the Los Angeles County Probation Department as well, since that’s where he lives. In the meantime, Majors must continue attending therapy and counseling and stay away from Jabbari. Major’s lost movie and endorsement deals from this case, including a starring role as super villain Kang in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And we’ve got more sports news for you. But this time, it is not a victory it’s a loss. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced a new policy yesterday. It essentially banned transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. The NAIA oversees athletic programs for around 250 smaller colleges across the U.S., which are mostly private schools and the vote was unanimous. According to the NAIA’s new policy, athletes will only be able to compete in women’s sports if they were assigned the female gender when they were born. It also says students on hormone therapy can participate in practices, scrimmages and other team activities, but cannot compete in official competitions. However, all students may participate in men’s sports. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: This decision doesn’t impact the NCAA competitions, but according to CBS sports, this is believed to be the first national college organization to require that athletes compete based on their assigned sex at birth. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Finally, it’s time to get your freak on. Missy Elliott announced yesterday that she’s launching her first ever solo headlining tour this year. And I will be front row. Okay. Also on the tour will be Ciara and Busta Rhymes. Here’s part of the announcement that Missy released on Instagram. 


[clip of Missy Elliott announcement] The year 2024. These three icons come together. To show you something you’ve never seen before. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And y’all, we had to fact check that several times. It is absolutely true. We’ve never seen Missy be the sole headliner before. Forbes reports she’s only co-headlined tours in the past. Also, a part of her tour will be her longtime collaborator and super producer Timbaland. So all of you all are on notice that I’m currently in control. But when the tour starts in July, my birthday month uh huh shout out to the Leos. Okay, watch out because I fully planned to lose control. You get it Josie?


Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, I get it. I want to follow this tour around. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I know right? 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m quitting my job and going to every stop. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, don’t quit this job because we can do this from, you know, the tour bus behind them. 


Josie Duffy Rice: By job I meant parenting. [laughter] I’m taking a break, and I am going on tour. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] And those are the headlines. 




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. See you at the next total solar eclipse in 2026 and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just the Missy Elliott tour schedule like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’velll Anderson. 


[spoken together] And what’s your Missy song for karaoke? 


Tre’vell Anderson: I mean, I’m a one minute man. You know–


Josie Duffy Rice: I was just about–


Tre’vell Anderson: –person myself.


Josie Duffy Rice: –to say one minute man. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I mean, come on. Okay. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The words were in my mouth. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters and Julia Claire, and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Adriene Hill is our executive producer. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.