The student debt crisis is an enormous anchor on the future of our country. Besides the predatory nature of modern student loans and the extraordinary financial burden they have put on Americans over the past couple of decades, many economists believe that wiping away the almost $2 trillion debt would have profound benefits for the U.S. economy. With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the existing inequalities in our country, President Joe Biden was elected in no small part due to the historic turnout of Gen Z and Millennial voters, and young voters of color in particular. But President Biden’s first several weeks in office have not been particularly inspiring for the millions of students who voted for him hoping he would come out of the gate tackling the problem. However, the student debt crisis is not going away, and people being smothered under more and more debt is not a recipe for a successful society.
On this week’s episode of The Brief, co-hosts Cara Zelaya and Kerry Eleveld talk about America’s student debt crisis with two special guests. The first is activist and community organizer Melissa Byrne, who handled the Bernie Sanders campaign’s digital GOTV push in 2016 and continues to actively work on making college free and bringing about an end to student loans. Cara and Kerry will also talk with Mike Pierce, the policy director and managing counsel at the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC). He is an attorney, advocate, and former senior regulator who joined SBPC after spending more than a decade fighting for the rights of student loan borrowers on Capitol Hill and at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Pierce has intimate experience with and knowledge of the progressive battles that have been waged over the last decade in regards to student loans and protections.