Oct 23, 2022
President Biden Delivers Remarks on Student Debt Relief 10/21/22 Transcript
President Biden Delivers Remarks on Student Debt Relief 10/21/22. Read the transcript here.
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Zachary Bernard (00:00):
Greetings Hornets, faculty members, and Biden Administration. My name is Zachary Bernard. Most of you may know me as Mr. Senior, some, as President of Men of Color Alliance, and others as just an RA. What you may not know is that I am a second generation immigrant. Growing up in New Castle, Delaware, with my parents who immigrated from Haiti, gave me a different drive to succeed, and want more for myself and my family. Knowing that every step I take forward is literally making history in my bloodline has pushed me to take advantage of every opportunity at Delaware State University. Coming to Delaware State University in 2019, I didn’t have the funds to live on campus, and I had to take out loans just to pay for my tuition and my transportation. In my junior year, I was given the opportunity to become a resident assistant, which allowed me to live at school, and become more involved with campus life. President Biden’s student debt relief has given me the liberty to graduate debt free.
Student loan Debt relief will impact millions of people just like me. This relief will help my friends who are currently paying their own student bills, so after they walk across the stage, they won’t have to continue paying out of pocket, and can instead think about starting a business, or going straight to grad school, or even saving for a house. This relief is breaking barriers in our communities and in our minds about what we can do with our future. I’m grateful, and I know y’all are as well, that President Biden kept his promise to provide student debt relief to working and middle class families, and I’m proud to introduce him. Please join me in welcoming to Delaware State University President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden (02:23):
Hey everybody. It’s good to be home. Please, if you have a seat, please take it Folks, as my mother would say, “Excuse my back.” It’s impolite to be talking while I have my back to you, but I apologize. I can’t do them both. Zach, you and I got through school the same way. I was an RA, a resident advisor, and it helped me get through law school. I’m glad you were able to benefit from what we’re doing, and I want to thank you for that introduction. You’re an example of why I’m so optimistic, all of you are, so optimistic about the future. You are the most involved, you are the most educated, you are the most engaged, you are the least prejudiced generation in American history. Everybody says, “Why am I so optimistic?” Not a joke, I’m optimistic because of all of you, I really mean it. Thank you for what you’re doing, and please, get involved. No matter what position you take, get involved. We need you badly. I didn’t even see their bleachers up there. Hey everybody. Don’t jump.
By the way, as Tom Carper can tell you, I got my political start at Del State. This is the place we organized for Kent and Sussex County. This is how we got going. That was back in 1871, I think, a long time ago. Before I begin, there are a lot of people that might be wondering why I’m here at Del State. It’s because you’re an HBCU, and you play an important role in creating opportunity and possibilities all across the country. We’re here at Del State because it holds such a special place in my heart. There is no better example of a university that has changed so many lives, as Zach just explained about his. Like I’ve said many times, Delaware State brung me to the dance, as they say up in Claymont, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
I understand you’ve got a big game tomorrow, Howard University. I’ll tell you what man, in case you haven’t noticed, my VP is a Howard graduate, and she is a very vociferous Howard graduate. As your president can tell you, I’m always bragging about Del State, and we’ve got a little thing going. Besides that, we have a lot more folks, the Divine Nine runs my operation. Y’all think I’m kidding? You think I’m kidding? I’m not kidding. I’ll tell you what, to guarantee your win, I tried to figure out how we could do this, how to get Mike Purzycki to play for you. Mike Purzycki scored more reception than any receiver in University of Delaware history. A hell of a good mayor, but he was even a better ball player. Folks look, what you’ve got to do, I want you to win, but take it a little easy, because I’ve got to go back to Washington. My vice president is an extraordinary partner. I didn’t go to Del State, but my heart’s with you, man. Don’t let me down. Win one for Coach Bo.
It’s great to be here with friends. Delaware has great leadership, one of the most effective congressional delegations in America, and that’s not hyperbole. One of the things I love about this team is we have each other’s back. Governor John Carney used to actually work for me, and look, he’s now the governor. He’s more important than anybody, including me, because he has a wife who is an incredible writer. Tommy Carper, one of my best friends from all politics, we’ve been doing this a long time, Tommy. Chris Coons, who has a seat I used to hold, the only difference is that he not only has a law degree, he has a divinity degree. The boy can preach, but he can’t preach as well as the next woman, Lisa Blunt Rochester. Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not. You ever hear her? Whoa.
They have my back, and I have theirs. We have a great attorney General in Kathy Jennings, who worked with my son, Bo, and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall is here as well, and the mayor, Robin Christiansen. Thanks for welcoming us a Dover, Mr. Mayor. As I said, Purzycki knows a lot about being mayor, but he’s even a better receiver. Mr. Mayor, thank you for what you’re doing for the city of Wilmington. You’re making a big difference, pal. You really are making a big difference. We’ve got another mayor here today, but she’s no longer the mayor. She happens to be the director of the Office of Public Engagement, Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta. Madam Mayor, where are you? There she is.
Two things I learned you’ve got to know about Keisha. One, she’s smarter than you, and two, she’s smarter than me politically as well, that’s why I hired her. It’s great to have you, and welcome to Del State I’ve been bragging about. The fact of the matter is, she’s also the mayor of Atlanta, but she’s a FAMU grad. Tony, you know where the real power is, as I said, in the Divine nine. Speaking of the president of this great university, this guy used to work for me. Tony worked for me when I was a senator, but he left because he wanted to become a doctor, a PhD in public policy. That wasn’t good enough. Then, he decided he wanted to be president. I got scared as hell he was going to run. But, it turned out he wanted to be the president of the university.
By the way Tony, I told you a true story. When I left the vice presidency, after Bo died, I wasn’t going to get involved in politics anymore. I became a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Before that occurred, three universities came to me and said they wanted to interview me, to consider my being the president of the university. My wife, who’s a professor at a community college, has two masters and a PhD, but she’s smarter than me. She looked at me, and she said, “If you do that, I’m leaving you. It’s one of the toughest jobs in America, especially if you start arguing about parking spaces and office windows.”
Tony, thanks buddy, you are a good friend, and I can’t say enough good things about you. A year ago I signed an executive order establishing a presidential initiative to strengthen HBCUs all across America, and I appointed Tony to lead that initiative, because he’s the best. Tony, Keisha, Kamala, and I understand the critical role HBCUs provide for all folks in this country, particularly in building, basically, a ticket to the middle class. HBCUs are great value for all Americans. That’s why, during the pandemic, my administration did something that’s never been done before. We invested $5.8 billion in HBCUs.
Some suggested we couldn’t get it done, but we got it done. That money already is out the door, being used very well. Tony and his team use a lot of that money, combined with the money the university raised, to help students at Del State with their debt, reducing the debt burden for 225 graduating seniors. That’s 225 Delaware State University graduates who can start getting on with their lives without the burden of student debt holding them back. That’s what I want to talk about today.
Eight weeks ago, I announced that my administration is going to provide $10,000 in debt relief to everyone who has that much debt, or up to that much debt, and $20,000 if you received a Pell Grant, and your income was under $125,000. It’s a plan for people who took out federal student loans before July of this year. A few days ago, I launched an online application process where you can apply for that debt relief. Folks, one of the things I wanted to make sure is we didn’t end up where we were in a position that Barack and I were in terms of the Affordable Care Act. It was made a little bit more difficult, but we made sure we tested it. We tested it for a weekend, to see how it worked John. Guess what? It worked. Almost nine million people signed on.
Folks, if you have student debt… you’ve got a time limit. If you have student debt, you can go to studentaid.gov, it’s very easy. Fill out your name, your social security number, your date of birth, and contact information. No forms to upload, no special login to remember, available in English and Spanish, desktop and mobile. Folks, takes less than five minutes. If you need additional information, we’ll follow up with you. This is a game changer. We’re hearing from people all over the country, over 10,000 students have written me letters so far, literally 10,000 so far. It’s about as easy to apply as signing up while hanging out with your friends, or at home and watching a movie. The vast majority are applying on their phones, and it’s easy. In less than a week, close to 22 million people have already given us the information to consider this life-changing relief.
My commitment, when I ran for president the United States, if I was elected, I’d make the government work and deliver for the people. A simple application process keeps that commitment, just as I’m keeping my commitment to relieve student debt as borrowers recover from the economic crisis caused by the once in a lifetime pandemic. The way I think about it, and the way my dad used to talk about this, the way so many at home talk about it, around the kitchen table, how much are the monthly bills? How do you have to pay for those necessities? How much do you have? Is there enough just for little breathing room, as my dad would say, leftover after the end of the month? Our student loan plan lowers costs for Americans as they recover from the pandemic, to give everybody a little more breathing room.
I want to be clear who’s going to benefit most. Working people, middle class folks that earn under $125,000, you get up to $10,000 knocked off the debt. If you earn under $125,000 and you received a Pell Grant, you get a $20,000 knocked off. In total, more than 40 million Americans stand to benefit from this relief. For borrowers out of school, nearly 90% of the relief is going to go to people making under $75,000 a year. Let me be clear, not a dime will go to the top 5% of incomes, period. It goes to people who really need it. Across America, nearly every Pell Graham recipient comes from a family making under $60,000. Two thirds come from families making under $30,000 a year. Here at Del State, over 75% of the students are Pell Grant recipients. That matters for millions of working and middle class people.
Let’s talk about who is against helping the millions of you who need the help, who want to make sure you have a shot. Republican members of Congress and Republican governors are doing everything they can to deny this relief, even to their own constituents. As soon as I announced my administration’s plan on student debt, they started attacking it, saying all kinds of things. Their outrage is wrong, and it’s hypocritical, but we’re not letting them get away with it. They’ve been fighting us in the courts, but just yesterday, a state court and the Supreme Court said, “No, we’re on Biden’s side.”
I will never apologize for helping working and middle class Americans as they recover from the pandemic, especially not to the same Republicans officials who voted for a $2 trillion tax cut that mainly benefited wealthy Americans and the biggest corporations, that wasn’t paid for, and racked up our deficit. I don’t want to hear it from MAGA Republicans, officials who had hundreds of thousands of dollars of debts, even millions of dollars, in pandemic relief loans forgiven, who now are attacking me for helping working class and middle class Americans.
My team at the White House posted a video of this online, you should check it out. Marjorie Taylor Greene, she and her husband got $180,000 in business loans forgiven from the PPP program. She said, “It’s completely unfair for us to forgive student loans for working and middle class Americans.” Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida said our plan was reckless. Guess how much he got in that program forgiven? $2,300,000. This is not a joke, you can’t make this stuff up. Republican governors wrote me a letter, saying this relief only helps the elite few. Do you all know you’re the elite few? I knew you were really special, but I didn’t know you’re the elite few. I’m serious. Ted Cruz, the great senator from Texas, he said it’s for “Slackers who don’t deserve relief.” Who in the hell do they think they are? I mean it.
Despite what Republican visuals say, we can afford student relief. That’s because, in the first two years of my administration, the historic deficit reduction, the very deficit reduction the Republicans voted against. This morning, my administration announced that this year, the federal deficit fell by $1 trillion, $400 billion just this year, the largest one year drop in all of American history. $1 trillion, $400 billion. It follows last year’s historic drop in the deficit of $350 billion. We’re going to reduce the deficit by another $250 billion over the next decade, and the reason for that is because Medicare is going to be able to negotiate drug prices, and lower the cost. We pay the highest drug prices of any nation in the world for the same drug. You can buy the same exact drug in a drug store here in Dover or Wilmington, and if you go over to Paris, France, or anywhere in Europe, it can be as much as 40% to 60% less, the same exact drug.
Folks, I don’t want to hear any weeping or gnashing of teeth from pharma, the big companies. In just 20 months since I’ve been in office, we’ve cut the deficit in half, and that’s not all. In relieving student debt, were also resuming student loan repayments that you’re going to have to start to pay. We had this long period where no one had to pay, because of the pandemic. Come January, folks whose debt isn’t fully canceled are going to have to start paying the student loans off. That means billions of dollars a year are going to start coming back into the treasury as well. My administration’s plan is economically responsible, and an economically responsible course to ensure a smooth transition to repayment, and prevent unnecessary defaults. It’s also focused on going after fraudsters who call borrowers to pretend they’re the government, and want to help you with your loans.
If you get a call, hang up. It’s not a joke, let’s be clear. Pay no attention to them, because you never have to pay for help with your federal student loans. Don’t listen to anyone who calls. I told you, just go online, it’s four questions. If you get any questions, please report to the following website, reportfraud.ftc.gov. My message to the fraudsters looking to cheat the American people is, don’t do it man, because we’re going to hold you accountable. We’re going to come for you.
My administration is also taking additional steps to make education a ticket to the middle class that folks can actually afford. For example, we’re fixing what used to be called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This program forgives student loans to encourage those students to go into public service, public school teachers, local police officers, workers at local charities, members of the military and the National Guard. If you serve in one of these jobs, and you make your loan payments for 10 years, even if it’s not consecutive years, the remainder of your balance will be completely forgiven. The change we made expires on October 31. Folks, move quickly. My message to all public servants out there with student debt is, apply today. Go to PSLF.gov to get that loan forgiven.
Let me close with this message to the young people of this nation. I’ve always believed your generation, as I said, represented the best educated, most talented, least prejudiced generation in our history. Today, we face an inflection point, one of those moments that only come every several generations, where there is so much change happening technologically, politically, socially, environmentally, that the decisions we make now are going to determine the future of our nation, and the future of your generation for the next 30 years. More change is going to occur in the next 10 years than the last 40 years that we’ve been around, not a joke.
Guess what? I know that you feel like it’s an added burden on top of all you’ve already been through. I’m not saying you have to shoulder the burden on your own. The task at hand, and the task ahead, is the work of all of us. What I’m saying is, you represent the best of us. Your generation will not be ignored. You’ll not be shunned, you’ll not be silenced. Just look at what happens when you speak out. Two years ago, perhaps many of you voted in your first election, or volunteered in your first election. You understood the choice, and the stakes. Because you exercised your right to vote, you elected me president, and Kamala vice president, the highest ranking woman ever to be elected in American history.
Since then, with your help, we’ve delivered enormous progress for the nation. More people voted in that last election than at any time in American history. The most significant gun safety law we’ve passed in 30 years, and by the way, I’m coming back, and I’m going to eliminate assault weapons again, I promise. I did it once. The most significant infrastructure law in American history, employing tens of thousands of people with good paying jobs, and modernizing our nation in a way it hadn’t happened since Eisenhower’s highway Bill. The first black woman on the Supreme Court, and she is smart as hell.
I made that promise. By the way, watch her, just watch her. Whoa. I’ve appointed more black women to the appellate courts of the United States than every other president combined in American history. The most significant commitment we’ve ever made to climate change. It’s the ultimate threat to your generation. Guess what? We have over close to a half a trillion dollars to deal with climate change. I’m keeping my promise that no one should be in jail for merely using or possessing marijuana, none. The records which hold up people from being able to get jobs and the like should be totally expunged. You can’t sell it, but if it’s just use, you’re completely free.
We know there’s more work to be done on voting rights, and restoring a woman’s right to choose. Today, my hope is, with the help of our delegation, if we maintain the Senate, pick up a of couple senators, we’re going to see to it that we completely codify Roe v. Wade in every state, a national codification.
Today, we’re following through on a promise I gave to millions of Americans with student loans, just a little more breathing room. Together, we’re making our democracy deliver for the American people. It strengthens all of America when those who come from struggling economic backgrounds, like a lot of us, when we do well, the whole country does well. The wealthy do well, everyone does well. I am so sick and tired of trickle down economics. I’ve had it up to here. Guess what? When poor folks and middle class folks make it, the wealthy do very well. They’re not at all hurt. I’m so sick and tired of telling me, “trickle down, give the wealthy more tax breaks, and everything’s going to be fine.” Yeah, right.
Folks, let me just say this. God bless you all for all you’re doing. I wish you all the very best of luck. The bottom line is, I want you to not forget, we still have a number of folks around the country in harm’s way, in the military. Every time we say grace, we end in my house, “God protect our troops.” Thank you very much.