- Since March 10, 2020, the collective wealth of billionaires has increased by $1.7 trillion.
- That’s according to a new report from Left-wing Americans for Tax Fairness.
- Those gains are enough to pay off the nation’s $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.
Members of America’s three-comma club could do what President Joe Biden has yet to do: wipe out America’s student debt.
The increase is largely due to equity gains, with many billionaires – like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – seeing their massive net worth tied to the rising value of their stocks.
$1.7 trillion is also the size of US student debt.
Democrats have considered taxing that wealth to offset social spending on things like paid vacations and monthly child tax credit checks, but progress on that legislation has stalled. In late 2021, Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a plan to tax the value of billionaires’ assets. Called the Billionaires’ Income Tax, the plan would have treated the rising value of billionaires’ assets, such as stocks, as income – and taxed it accordingly. That proposal was eventually scrapped from the Build Back Better framework, which centrist Democrat Joe Manchin says is currently dead.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a vocal advocate for student loan forgiveness, proposed using a wealth tax to offset debt forgiveness during her 2020 presidential campaign.
“For decades, we’ve allowed the rich to pay less while burying tens of millions of working Americans in education debt,” Warren wrote in a 2019 Medium post. “It’s time to make different choices .”
Billionaires’ earnings could pay off everyone’s student loans
While Democrats are still setting their spending priorities, many Americans are bracing for another economic hit: the resumption of student loan repayments.
The $1.7 trillion student debt crisis continues to grow, falling on the shoulders of 45 million Americans. Not only did Biden extend the payments pause three times, but he also canceled about $15 billion in student debt for targeted groups of borrowers, like those defrauded by for-profit schools. Yet while loan repayments have been suspended for the duration of the pandemic, borrowers are still worried about their ability to pay another monthly bill when payments are expected to resume on May 1.
That’s why calls continue to grow louder for Biden to not only extend the pause on student loan payments a fourth time, but write off some or all of the nation’s student debt. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain recently told Pod Save America that borrowers will likely see some form of relief before the May payment resumption date.
“The president is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the pause expires, or he will extend the pause,” Klain said, adding that “the question of whether or not there is a the executive on canceling student debt when payments resume is a decision we will make before payments resume.”
More recently, the Ministry of Education hinted that another extension of the suspension of payments could be considered. Politico reported that the department has asked student loan companies to stop sending notices to borrowers about resuming payments, according to familiar sources — something a loan company would typically do before a payment resumption date. .
Biden himself has remained largely silent on the broader issue of student loan relief, but many Democratic lawmakers believe he has the executive power to act on the issue and should use it.