Biden Town Hall’s comments on police funding, student loans and minimum wage could upset the left wing
Almost a month after starting his term in the White House, President Biden has managed to keep the peace with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
But comments on questions of student loan cancellation, police funding, and how quickly the president raised the minimum wage at a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Wis., Hosted by CNN are all except welcome signals for progressives.
AOC PUSHES BACK AFTER BIDEN DROPPED $ 50,000 STUDENT CHARGE DEBT ELIMINATION PLAN
A leader of the progressive movement has warned that Biden’s mayoral comments could undermine popular support for the president’s COVID relief plan, which he aims to push through Congress and enact legislation in the coming weeks.
“I’m not sure Biden fully understands that every time he throws cold water on a popular progressive idea it hurts grassroots enthusiasm and activism for other parts of his agenda. like relief from COVID and millions of clean energy and infrastructure jobs, ”Progressive Change Campaign committee co-founder Adam Green told Fox News.
Biden clearly rejected pressure from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democrats in Congress to write off up to $ 50,000 in federal student loan debt to all borrowers.
A member of the public at City Hall, urging Biden to pledge to write off up to $ 50,000 in debt, asked, “What will you do to make this happen?”
“I will not succeed,” replied the president.
Biden explained that he believed he couldn’t eliminate $ 50,000 on his own without Congressional action.
“I understand the impact of debt, and it can be debilitating,” Biden said. “I am ready to cancel the debt of $ 10,000 but not $ 50 [thousand], because I don’t think I have the power to do it. “
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Some of Congress’ best-known progressives – including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – support Schumer’s proposed bill.
Schumer and Warren – in a statement Wednesday – noted that Presidents Obama and Trump had used their executive power to write off student loan debt.
“It is time to act. We will continue to fight,” they wrote.
Another supporter is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, another top leftist in the House.
She took to Twitter after town hall to point out that “we have the * Senate Majority Leader * on board to forgive $ 50,000. Biden is holding back, but many arguments against that just don’t hold water. after close inspection. We can and must do it. Keep pushing! “
Biden has asked to forgive $ 10,000 in student loan debt as part of a larger coronavirus relief effort. He also extended the freeze on student loan payments until September 30, 2021, when he took office last month.
MINNEAPOLIS RETURNS ON POLICE FINANCING PLAN
The president also emphatically reiterated his long-standing opposition to police funding, which has been the goal of many on the left since the racial protests of the spring and last summer and the unrest caused by police brutality against the minorities.
Asked during the town hall on how not to “over-legislate” the police, the president described the measures he hopes to take to improve criminal justice and the maintenance of order in the country.
“By number one, don’t fund the police,” Biden said. “We need to invest more money in policing work so that we have legitimate community policing and we are in a situation where we are changing the law.”
Following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd last May while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, some Democrats have pushed to divert funding from local police budgets to local police. social and mental health services.
Since last summer, Biden has opposed calls for police funding. On the trail of the presidential campaign, the then Democratic candidate pledged to invest $ 300 million for police training and the hiring of more diverse officers.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS APPROVE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE TO $ 15 PER HOUR
The third town hall comment that is anything but music to progressive ears was the president’s call to “gradually” increase the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.
Biden has suggested it may be open to a longer phase to raise the minimum wage than what is currently spelled out in the Democrats’ congressional bill. He reiterated his support for a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, saying “I am in favor of a minimum wage of $ 15.… No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty.”
But he added that “it is very legitimate for small business owners to be concerned about how this is changing.”
The president previously suggested that the minimum wage increase may not appear in the final version of the massive $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, but his comments – arriving in prime time on a national cable information network – attracted a lot of attention.
The current federal minimum wage is $ 7.25 an hour, and raising it has long been the goal of progressives.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont – the progressive champion and two-time Democratic presidential candidate – has sworn that the final version of the COVID relief bill will include language on raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.
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Sanders took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to write, “The overwhelming majority of the American people understand that we need to end starvation wages in America. This means raising the minimum wage from $ 7.25 an hour to 3 p.m. $ per hour by 2025. Period. “