Aug 25, 2022
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 8/24/22 Transcript
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre 8/24/22. Read the transcript here.
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Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:00)
All right. Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome back.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:04)
Oh, wow. No excitement in the room. Hello! Hello!
Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:08)
We got visitor today.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:11)
Yes, we do. So, today’s a great day for middle class Americans and for our economy. And we are really excited to have Domestic Policy Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice, and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, Bharat Ramamurti.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:29)
Sorry, Bharat. I always do this and I apologize. I know it’s not the first time.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (00:35)
So, they’re here with us today. Ambassador Rice will discuss the president’s announcement today, as you just heard him in the Roosevelt Room, some of you were in there or your colleagues were, the announcement that he did today to provide breathing room to student loan borrowers. And then she and Bharat will take some questions. They have about 15 minutes. So, just giving you a heads up, they do have to leave to go to another meeting.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:02)
With that, I will give it to Ambassador Rice to take it over.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (01:07)
Thank you, Karine.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:08)
Ambassador Susan Rice: (01:08)
Good afternoon, everyone.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (01:14)
As you heard from President Biden a few minutes ago, the administration is taking a number of important steps to provide student loan borrowers with relief and improve the student loan system in ways that’ll help low and middle income students, both now and in the future. This comprehensive plan does not just deliver on the president’s campaign commitment to provide student debt relief. It exceeds that promise, including by making changes that will benefit students for years to come. First, the administration is extending the current pause on student loan repayments one final time until December 31st of this year.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (01:55)
Second, the Department of Education is providing up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. This relief is targeting, it will only go to borrowers whose income is less than $125,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a household, meaning that the relief will go to those who need it most.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (02:28)
Third, the administration is proposing critical reforms to the income-driven repayment plan that will ensure that current and future borrowers will have much smaller and more manageable monthly payments. This new plan protects more low income borrowers from making any payments and caps monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income, meaning after essentials like rent and food. That is half the rate that people currently pay today. And borrowers making roughly the equivalent of $15, the minimum wage where that applies, won’t have to make any payments at all under this plan. These changes will reduce the average annual student loan repayment by $1,000 a year.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (03:24)
Fourth, thanks to temporary changes that the Department of Education has made to the public service loan forgiveness program, if you have worked in public service, for example, as a teacher, a government employee, a military service member for 10 years, even if those years were not consecutive, you are eligible to have all of your federal student loans canceled.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (03:49)
The Department of Education is working to make these changes permanent. But, in the meantime, more than 175,000 people just in the last year have taken advantage of these temporary changes and have had more than $10 billion in loans forgiven. So, my message to everybody today is if you currently or previously have worked in public service, go now to pslf.gov to take advantage of this program, but you must do so before October 31st.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (04:28)
Finally, the Department of Education is announcing new actions to hold accountable colleges that have contributed to the student debt crisis, including by publishing an annual watch list of the programs with the worst debt levels in the country and requesting improvement plans from the worst actors. These actions build on steps the president has already taken to reduce the need to borrow, including by signing the largest increase to the maximum Pell Grant in over a decade and providing nearly $40 billion to colleges and universities through the American Rescue Plan, much of which was used for emergency student financial aid.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (05:13)
The president will continue fighting to double the maximum Pell Grant and to make community colleges universally free. This is, as I said, a comprehensive plan that will provide meaningful relief to millions of Americans, both now and in the future. Targeting this relief to those who need it the most means that 90% of the relief dollars will go to those individuals earning less than $75,000 a year. And no individual or couple in the top 5% of incomes in the United States will receive a penny of relief.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (05:57)
Of the 43 million eligible borrowers, more than 60% or 27 million individuals, are Pell Grant recipients who are eligible to receive up to $20,000 in debt cancellation, over 60%. Among black borrowers, for example, 71% receive Pell Grants. So, today’s announcement will have a significant impact on people who have been disproportionately impacted by student debt. Nearly two thirds of individuals, all debtors, will have half or more of their total debt wiped out, including the 20 million borrowers who will have their debt completely eliminated. That’s 45% of the total. 20 million borrowers will have their debt completely eliminated, two thirds will have half or more eliminated.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (06:54)
The actions we are announcing today are going to be good for our economy. We are on track to cut the federal deficit by more than $1.7 trillion this year, the single largest deficit reduction ever, and numerous experts affirm that restarting paused loan repayments at around the same time as we provide targeted debt relief will not have any meaningful effect on inflation.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (07:24)
Finally, this action will ease the financial burden on millions of Americans and provide them with greater economic security to buy a house, start a family, open a business, or save for retirement. And that is good for all Americans. The president has always promised that he will build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out. Today’s announcement is just one more step we are taking to make that a reality. Thank you.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (07:54)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (07:59)
All right. So we have about 15 minutes, as I’ve just stated.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (08:02)
April, go ahead.
April Ryan: (08:04)
Ambassador Rice, I have three questions, if you will.
April Ryan: (08:07)
One, what made the president move off of that $10,000? He was so adamant on the $20,000 as Chuck Schumer and the rest on Capitol Hill, Elizabeth Warren, Ayanna Pressley were calling for $50,000.
April Ryan: (08:21)
Also, when it comes to Pell Grants, your mother was known as the Mother of the Pell Grant System. President Biden just said himself that 80% of the money’s helped students. And now that money’s is dropped down to 30% when it comes to Pell Grant. Are you doing anything to bolster the Pell Grant system as you’re trying to relieve this student loan debt?
April Ryan: (08:47)
Ambassador Susan Rice: (08:48)
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why don’t we take one at a time, okay?
April Ryan: (08:51)
Ambassador Susan Rice: (08:52)
All right. First of all, let’s talk about the Pell Grant.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (08:54)
The Pell Grant is 50 years old this year. When the Pell Grant was established, it covered 80% of the cost of a four year public institution. Today, it’s now 30%. That’s because costs of college have gone up and the relative size of the Pell Grant has gone down. The president has been very clear, from the campaign forward, that he aims to double the maximum size of the Pell Grant to around $13,000 from its current level around $6,500. He has in his budget requests asked for incremental increases to get to that doubling and his FY23 budget request does that as well. In the FY22 appropriation enacted, $400 was added to the maximum size of the Pell Grant which, as I said in my remarks, is the largest increase in the decade.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (09:49)
With respect to the president’s posture on this, he’s been clear from the campaign that he was prepared to relieve up to $10,000 in broad based cancellation. He has listened and consulted and studied in partnership with the Department of Education, which obviously has a lead on this, as to what is the best approach. And, after all of that consultation, the Secretary of Education made the determination that the best way to benefit those who need it most, consistent with the president’s campaign proposal, but actually more advantageous for those in the lower income part of the spectrum, those who have been most harmed, would be to have the $20,000 of relief for those who are Pell Grant recipients below the income threshold, in addition to 10,000, for those also below the income threshold who are not Pell Grant recipients.
April Ryan: (10:49)
And then, my last question.
April Ryan: (10:51)
Friday there is a meeting, we understand, with the president and civil rights leaders on all encompassing to include this. Could you talk about that meeting by any chance?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (11:01)
No, I can’t preview a meeting that hasn’t happened.
April Ryan: (11:04)
So, it is happening, though?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (11:05)
I can’t confirm that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (11:06)
Speaker 1: (11:08)
Ambassador, I have a couple of questions for you.
Speaker 1: (11:11)
One, I want to get your general response to this overwhelming chorus of critics, Republicans, right now, who say this is unfair, that there are people who decided to not go to college because they couldn’t pay for it. There are people who decided to join the Armed Forces in lieu of going to college because they couldn’t pay for it. And this leaves them behind. Is there an accuracy in any of that?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (11:32)
Yes, there is an accuracy, but there’s also a double standard. And this is a debate we are happy to have.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (11:38)
First of all, Republicans didn’t complain when certain small businesses during the pandemic got extraordinary financial relief without having to pay back those loans, when some businesses needed it and other businesses didn’t need it.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (11:54)
This is the same principle. We have a country where we all benefit where the middle and working class are doing well. This relief will be targeted to those who need it most. As I said, 90% of those who will benefit earn less than $75,000 a year. So, this is not a giveaway to rich people. This is not any of the things that Republican critics have charged. Yes, those who have paid their loans back deserve to be credited. That’s fantastic, that’s to their credit. But that doesn’t mean that those who are, for whatever reason, unable to pay back their loans, one third of people have debt and no college degree, that doesn’t mean that because some were able to do so, nobody should help those who weren’t. By that logic, we wouldn’t help anybody in this country.
Speaker 1: (12:48)
How much will this cost? How much will Americans have to pay on this price tag overall?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (12:52)
Well, that remains to be determined and it will be a function of what percentage of eligible borrowers actually take up this opportunity.
Speaker 1: (13:01)
300 million? 500 million?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (13:03)
When they take up the opportunity, we’ll be able to give you a much better sense of that.
Speaker 1: (13:07)
But are those numbers ballpark at this point?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (13:09)
I think it depends on the numbers. Unfortunately, and we’re here to encourage as many people to take it up as possible, if 43 million borrowers take it up, that’ll be different than if 50% of those 43 million take it up.
Speaker 2: (13:24)
If I could just follow up, if the full number of eligible borrowers do take advantage of the program, what would the cost be?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (13:32)
I can’t give you that off the top of my head.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (13:36)
I thought you were running this show.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:37)
I know. She slipped in on me. You’re right, Ambassador.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (13:40)
Go ahead in the back.
Speaker 3: (13:42)
Speaker 3: (13:43)
Can you talk about the timeline here from when this now becomes available to borrowers and how long they may have? Because I know the president talked about you have to apply for this, this isn’t going to be automatic. So, people may not even know necessarily if they’re eligible, right?
Ambassador Susan Rice: (13:58)
Okay. This is a great question. Thank you for asking.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (14:01)
First of all, anybody can go today to studentaid.gov and provide their email address and they will be notified when the website is available for people to fill out a very simple short form, attesting to their income and become eligible.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (14:23)
Having said that, as well, down the road, it is likely that as many as eight million Americans are automatically eligible because the Department of Education already has their income information because they filled out a financial aid form, for example. So, we estimate that there’ll be some 20% roughly who will get automatic relief because they qualify and we know they qualify and can verify that. Then, subsequently over the coming weeks, but in advance of the pause expiring one final time, there will be the capacity for people to go to a Department of Education website and do the quick short form attestation and become eligible.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (15:13)
Go ahead, Michael.
Michael D. Shear: (15:15)
Michael D. Shear: (15:16)
Just a couple of quick technical questions. Can you talk a little bit about the legal authority on which this program is based?
Michael D. Shear: (15:23)
And is there a worry that colleges will not now be incentivized to simply raise tuition rates since they know, both because of the cancellation but also because of the reduction in the maximum payment that people will have to pay going forward, that should provide a buffer for colleges to just raise tuition because they know that more students will be able to afford the higher cost, because the maximum will be capped?
Michael D. Shear: (15:53)
And just one last thing is-
Ambassador Susan Rice: (15:55)
Wait, give me-
Michael D. Shear: (15:59)
Ambassador Susan Rice: (15:59)
Now, you’ve already made me forget the first one. The first-
Michael D. Shear: (16:02)
The first one was the legal authority.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (16:03)
Okay. Congress gave the Secretary of Education and the Heroes Act the authority to do this. And I’ll refer you to the Department of Education and their general counsel for the details.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (16:14)
With respect to your second question about costs of colleges, you heard the president emphasize in his remarks, and a key element of our plan is to ensure that colleges that have jacked up prices and taken advantage of students, particularly those that have made wild promises about how much people will be able to earn based on their degree program which are not backed up by reality, and while people are incurring huge volumes of debt, that is something the Department of Education has already cracked down on and is going to continue to crack down on.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (16:51)
There’s also the reality that the American Rescue Plan provided both in state and local funds, as well as in funds targeted to higher education, significant dollars-
Ambassador Susan Rice: (17:03)
… higher education, significant dollars that can and should be used to make sure that public institutions don’t increase their tuition and expenses greater than the rate of inflation. And the Department of Education is going to be vigilant. They’re going to publish annually a list of institutions that are the worst actors in terms of the delta between what they promise, what they charge and what they deliver.
Michael D. Shear: (17:32)
And finally one last question. Is it possible for somebody to go out today and apply for a college loan knowing that it’s going to be canceled or-
Ambassador Susan Rice: (17:42)
Michael D. Shear: (17:42)
What is the date by which somebody had to-
Ambassador Susan Rice: (17:45)
The loans that are eligible for relief were those that were up until June 30th of this year, ’22.
Michael D. Shear: (17:55)
June 30th of this year. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (18:01)
[inaudible 00:18:01], I’m not going to let you escape.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (18:01)
He’s not going to not going to escape.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (18:02)
I was like, “Who’s going to ask [inaudible 00:18:05] a question?”
Speaker 4: (18:06)
I know there have been some officials that have taken an issue with some of the top line estimates we’ve seen from outside groups in terms of cost, not to mention kind of direct impact on inflation and how things made that out. But if you can’t even give a top line figure for if the uptake was everyone, how are you modeling this out and what gives you certainty that even a 10th of a basis point in a very high inflation environment wouldn’t it be problematic for people?
Speaker 5: (18:31)
Right, let’s take that in two parts. The first question is what’s the cost? And as Ambassador Rice said, there’s a number of factors that go into that question. There’s the takeup rate. Folks are going to have to go apply for relief. Our hope is that a hundred percent of people who are eligible go apply for relief and get the relief that they’re entitled to. I think realistically, we’re not going to get to a hundred percent, but the question is, how far short of a hundred percent are we going to be? And that plays a big role in what the cost is going to be.
Speaker 5: (18:58)
The second aspect is that look, the student loan portfolio, there are different estimates about repayment rates and default rates. Right now in the student loan portfolio, 16% of borrowers are in default. And if you look at the category of borrowers, there’s millions of borrowers who are more than seven years in default. The median amount of money that the Department of Education collects from those borrowers each year is $0.
Speaker 5: (19:23)
So even if those borrowers have a face value on their debt of $10,000, and this plan wipes it out, it’s not reasonable to say that the cost of that is $10,000 because we were not realistically going to collect anywhere close to $10,000 from it. The assumptions and the analysis about how much are we expecting to collect, some of that changes over time based on certain macroeconomic conditions and other factors.
Speaker 5: (19:45)
The third thing we have to pay attention to here is in evaluating the cost of this program, we have to also evaluate the benefits and how that will flow into revenue to the government. Our view is based on a lot of good empirical literature, relieving student loan debt burden is going to help people start small businesses. It’s going to make it easier for certain folks to actually save that down payment and buy a home. All of that additional economic activity in the medium term is going to create additional tax revenue that comes into the government that offsets the cost on the front end.
Speaker 5: (20:17)
The bottom line here is that there’s all these different factors that go into the cost. Standing here today, I can’t tell you how all of those are going to shake out. Part of it is that the Department of Education has to actually implement this policy. They have to get the application out. We have to start getting data on how many people are applying. And I think then when that happens, we’ll have a better sense of what the cost is going to be.
Speaker 5: (20:35)
On inflation, I think it’s good to take a step back and realize where we are today. Today, the student loan payments are paused. They’ve been paused since the previous administration, and it’s been extended multiple times by the secretary of education. Because of the pause, you have 45 million borrowers who are not required to make a single dollar in payments right now. What the president announced today was not only this debt relief, but a resumption in payments on January 1st, 2023.
Speaker 5: (21:05)
When you resume payments, what that means is that millions of borrowers are going to start making payments that come into the federal government. It’s going to be billions of dollars a month in payments coming into the federal government. At the same time, of course there is going to be relief going out to people. And our view is that those two things, the relief going out to people and the money coming in from restart, largely offset each other. And we’re not alone in thinking that. A number of independent experts who’ve weighed in on this topic today have said the exact same thing. Mark Zandi at Moody said that, Mike Konczal at the Roosevelt Institute and others that we can point you to.
Speaker 5: (21:37)
So our view is that these two will largely offset one another. And in fact, according to some independent experts, it could actually be deflationary given all the money that’s coming in after payments resume.
Speaker 4: (21:49)
Can I ask really quickly though, how are you modeling assumptions about repayment when the same macro effects in terms of whether or not people are going to be prepared to repay, whether they’re going to be repaying immediately when it actually happens, how can you make that assumption if you can’t make assumptions about the uptake [inaudible 00:22:02]?
Speaker 5: (22:02)
Sure. Well, I can tell you in the pre-pandemic pre-pause era, each month the Department of Education would collect about $6 billion worth of payments from borrowers. During the pause, believe it or not, a number of people are actually making payments voluntarily. And so we’re actually collecting about $2 billion in payments. That delta between what we would normally collect and what we’re collecting now is about $4 billion a month. When we restart, the assumption would be that we would, roughly speaking, these are estimates, start collecting that $4 billion again with a bit of a discount because obviously certain borrowers are going to get relief, including some borrowers who are going to have their loans completely wiped out.
Speaker 5: (22:39)
But the main thing we have to understand here is that today we are collecting $2 billion a month in voluntary payments. And after the restart happens, we are going to be collecting something significantly above $2 billion a month from borrowers. And if you think about that at a very basic level, that’s why there’s that deflationary impact from the restart.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (22:59)
Couple more. Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (23:01)
Just to follow up on the legal authority. I know you said that we should check with the Department of Education, but in terms of at least the way the administration has talked about it, you’ve touted the economy and how it’s doing much better under the president’s management of the pandemic. So how does that align with then using legal authority citing pandemic emergency?
Speaker 5: (23:21)
Yeah. I used to be a lawyer, but I’m not a lawyer anymore so I don’t want to venture out onto getting deep into the legal authority here. And I would refer you to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel and also to the Department of Education Office of General Counsel. But I will make the point that there is a concern that when payments resume in January that that’s going to lead to an increase in financial distress among borrowers. And so for example, if you look at there’s a small subset of borrowers for particular reasons who are not subject to the payment pause. So they’ve been having to make their payments throughout the pandemic.
Speaker 5: (23:58)
And what you’ve seen is that those borrowers are in more financial distress. They’ve been having a harder time making payments on other debts that they owe and so on. The concern is that when you restart payments, are a subset of borrowers going to end up defaulting on their loans, or they going to go into delinquency? And so part of what the legal authority is being used to do here in a targeted way is to make sure that those borrowers who are at highest risk of distress after the restart happens, those are the people who are going to get the relief because the legal authority gives the secretary the ability to make sure that the pandemic and the emergency does not cause a net financial harm to those folks.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (24:34)
Okay. Two more. In the back and then I’ll come to you.
Speaker 7: (24:38)
If you take a closer look at the White House fact sheet that was released, the White House cites a construction worker who makes $38,000 a year as a potential candidate for this student loan relief. You also cite a $77,000 a year earning nurse. And that sounds great, but I’m wondering why did you structure this policy in a way that would provide up to $40,000 in debt for a married couple making up to $249,000? Why include folks who have gone to post grad, law school or business school? Is that really bottom up, middle out?
Speaker 5: (25:17)
Yeah, it is. As we’ve made clear, nobody in the top 5% of incomes is going to get a single dollar under this proposal. And actually we have very good data showing that folks even making in that range that we talked about near the top of the income cutoff are much more likely to be experiencing distress after repayment starts. There’s good data on it. And look, again, as Ambassador Rice said, we welcome having this debate.
Speaker 5: (25:42)
If you look at this chart, you can see that 87% of the dollars overall are going to people making under $75,000 a year and $0, 0% are going to anybody making over $125,000 in individual income. And just because I’ve seen some criticism from Republicans on this today, it’s instructive to compare that to what the Republican tax bill did in 2017. It’s basically the reverse. 15% of the benefits went to people making under $75,000 a year and 85% went to people making over $75,000 a year.
Speaker 5: (26:14)
And if you zoom in even more on that, people making over $250,000 a year got nearly half of the benefits of the GOP tax bill and are getting $0 under our bill. We think that this is a classic example of what the president talks about in middle up economics. It’s going to families that really need it. And the vast majority of it is going to people making under $75,000 a year.
Speaker 7: (26:36)
Thank you, sir.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (26:37)
Speaker 8: (26:42)
My question is, how did the administration come up with the 20,000 and $10,000 relief number? Was there some kind of calculation into what would be inflationary and what is actually going to make an impact?
Speaker 5: (26:52)
Yeah. Look, in terms of the secretary’s decision and the president’s decision on this, there’s a number of factors that go into it. The president’s goal was to do something that he thought was fair, responsible, and consistent with his commitment to fiscal responsibility. And the conclusion was that following through on his campaign commitment, doing $10,000 for most borrowers, and then adding this additional $10,000 for Pell recipients, which it should be noted, a couple of facts about Pell recipients, almost all of them come from families that make under $60,000 a year. Half of them came from families that made under $30,000 a year. And targeting additional money to people who got Pell grants also reflects the fact that when it comes to repaying your debt, part of what matters is your current income, but a big part of it too is how much wealth do you have? What assets can you rely upon?
Speaker 5: (27:45)
A lot of borrowers can rely upon family wealth to help make some of those payments, especially as they’re starting out. Pell grant recipients, because they come from families with lower wealth, can’t rely on that family wealth as much. In fact, some of them, many of them are actually helping members of their family pay their other debts. We thought this was a fair and equitable thing to do. It was fiscally responsible and the combination of those factors is why we arrived at this ultimate outcome. Thank you.
Ambassador Susan Rice: (28:17)
Thank you guys.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:17)
Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you guys.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:20)
All right. I have one quick thing at the top and then we’ll get going with the rest of the briefing. The last time I stood before you all here on August 9th, average national gas prices were $4.03. Today, the average national prices are $3.88. The most common price at gas stations across the country today is $3.49. Prices have come down every single day since the last briefing. In fact, they’ve come down every single day this summer. Over 10 straight weeks.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (28:59)
This is the fastest decline in gas prices in over a decade and it is saving families with two cars $120 per month on average. President Biden promised he would address Putin’s price hike at the pump and he has. He’s releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He brought together international partners to release an unprecedented amount of oil, and under President Biden’s leadership, US oil production is up and on track to reach a record high. The president will continue to call on domestic and international oil producers and refiners to increase output so that prices can continue to come down.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (29:45)
With that, go ahead [inaudible 00:29:49].
Speaker 9: (29:48)
Thank you. Just wanted to follow up on something that came up in Kirby’s gaggle this morning. He said that you have no damage assessment within the NSC going underway about regarding the documents that were found in the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. And I guess my question is why? Because from my understanding, there is an intelligence directive that calls for there to be damage assessment to be conducted when there’s an actual or suspected breach of classified information. I understand not wanting to get involved in the Justice Department’s investigation, but why isn’t the administration assessing what potential damage may have come from these documents?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (30:39)
So look, I’m just going to reiterate what you heard from my colleague. We’re just not going to comment on any of the contents of the ongoing independent Justice Department investigation. Again, and you have heard this from me, you’ve heard this from others when it comes to that, we would refer you to the Department of Justice on that.
Speaker 9: (30:59)
And I’m respectfully, I’m not asking you to comment on the Justice Department’s investigation. I’m asking you whether there is an assessment going on to just understand just what, if any, damage has been done to protect American national security.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:17)
Yeah, and I am answering your question. When it comes to any underlying materials or any contents of the ongoing investigation, the independent Department of Justice investigation, we’re just not going to comment on it.
Speaker 9: (31:32)
Follow up on that. And if I may, you talked just filed a lawsuit over the president’s decision to reinstate the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments. Does the administration have any reaction to this lawsuit?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (31:49)
No, I’m not going to comment on the lawsuit from here. Okay.
Speaker 10: (31:51)
Does the Biden White House believe it’s ethical to raid the home of the top political opponent?
Speaker 11: (32:00)
I just wanted to ask about the airstrikes ordered by the president against Iranian back groups in Syria yesterday and what impact of any that would have on Iranian nuclear negotiations.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (32:10)
Yeah. So the Syria, as you heard from [inaudible 00:32:19] today, these strikes were a direct response to attacks on ongoing threats against US forces. We do not seek escalation as you heard from [inaudible 00:32:31], but we remain prepared to respond to any ongoing threat. I just want to say that at the top. We took this action because the president determined it was in our national security interest to do so. He will continue to closely monitor the situation with his national security team. So that is something that we’re going to continue to do. As it relates to the JCPOA to your question, the president said this, that his pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, he wants to prevent that. That has been his pledge from the beginning.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (33:05)
A nuclear armed Iran would serve as an even greater threat to US forces, friends and allies in the region. The president will use whatever means are necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The preferred course of course, you’ve heard us say this from this podium many times, you’ve heard us say this, the president say this is diplomacy. But it remains to be seen whether a deal is actually achievable. But that’s what we’re going to work towards a diplomacy effort. Whether or not there is a deal, the president’s commitment to protect US personnel and confront Iran’s activities that jeopardize our people or our friends in the region is unwavering. And the nuclear deal has nothing to do with our readiness and ability to defend our people in our interests. And that’s going to be the president’s primary focus.
Speaker 11: (33:57)
A quick one on Ukraine. The most recently announced weapons package, I understand that those weapons have to be built, they’re not.
Speaker 11: (34:03)
… announced weapons package. I understand that those weapons have to be built. They’re not in a stockpile already. What is the range there for in kind of estimated time they could actually be delivered to Ukraine?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:11)
No, it’s a great question. I think what you saw us announce the $3 billion for folks who are not tracking a new package, which is the largest at once trench that we’ve announced from this administration. We have announced approximately $13.6 billion, just to give a little bit of context there, of security assistance for Ukraine since the beginning of this administration back in January of 2021, an unprecedented amount that is roughly three times what Ukraine’s annual military budget is.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (34:47)
So to your point, this is through the Ukrainian security assistance. This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process through which DOD will acquire additional capabilities to provide to Ukraine’s armed forces. This is different than the President draw down authorities that you’ve heard us announce. So it means that some of this acquiring Ukraine will take some time, to your point. I don’t have a specific timeline for this. I would refer you to the Department of Defense. But this announcement is part of our efforts to ensure Ukraine’s military can continue to defend its people, and also it can defend its freedom and defend its right to be a sovereign country. Okay.
Speaker 4: (35:33)
A federal judge today blocked the administration’s ability to enforce guidance related to emergency services for abortion in states where it’s banned or restricted. I think we got three more states that are adding new restrictions, new trigger laws at some point this week. When you look around at the environment right now, where is the administration in terms of potentially new actions or what the President is thinking as this continues to progress?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (35:56)
As you know, the President has taken some bold actions since Dobbs’ decision was made back on June 24th, I believe. So just a couple months ago. And we’ve been very clear as you look at what happened last night in Texas. Republican legislators are working to roll back the freedoms of Americans that they relied on for a half a century, a half a century. And it’s more and more clear that this is against the will of majority of Americans. And we cannot forget that. Women across the country are making their voices heard. They’re making their voices really loud and clear to reclaim the rights that were taken from them by the Supreme Court. And so here’s the thing that we’re doing, what the President is doing and what congressional Democrats are doing, is listening to women, to majority of Americans, and we’re committed to restoring protections of Roe.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (36:53)
But again, what we’re seeing from the other side is extreme. It is ultra MAGA, as you’ve heard the President say. It’s including banning abortion in cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother. That is what is happening here when you look at these pieces of legislation just across the country. And as I mentioned last night, Texas district court affirmed that medical providers can deny life saving and health preserving care for women, even if they are suffering from hemorrhaging or life threatening hypertension. That is what we’re seeing.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (37:32)
And tomorrow, five new abortion bans go into effect in Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, that will criminalize abortion in some cases, without exceptions for rape or incest. Texas’s law is extreme, that it seeks to punish healthcare providers with life in prison. That’s what they’re talking about, punishing healthcare providers with life in prison. So Americans need to know that these are fundamental rights that were taken away from us by this Dobb decision, including the right to contraception and marriage equality are at risk. Let’s not forget what we heard from Judge Thomas when that decision was announced. That’s why people across the country need to make sure that their voices are being heard, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. That’s what the President is going to do along with congressional Democrats. Go ahead.
Speaker 12: (38:30)
Thank you. On student loans, one of my colleagues asked if these measures are likely to raise prices because it makes it easier for some students who are maybe more willing to take on debt if they know they’re only going to have to pay a minimum amount or if it’s going to be forgiven. And Ambassador Rice said that’s something the Department of Education is going to be on the lookout for. So I’m wondering if that’s a tacit acknowledgement that yes, these policies could cause tuition rates to rise in the near future, even further than they already have.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (38:55)
Look, this is something that Ambassador Rice talked about, as you just stated. She was asked this question a couple of times and she said we have to see. Right? We have to see. This is something that the Department of Education is going to look into. In particular with when you talk about colleges potentially raising prices, that’s something that the Department of Education is looking at and is going to crack down on.
Speaker 12: (39:19)
It seems like it’s something you’re preparing for, right?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (39:22)
Well, I mean, look. Again, this is something that the Department of Education is aware of. This is something that we’re monitoring. But it doesn’t take away from what this means, from what the President announced today. This is going to help people making less than $125,000. That matters. 90% of this package that the President announced is going to help middle class Americans who are making less than $75,000 a year. This is giving those Americans a little bit of breathing room. Let’s not forget what has happened the last couple of years. If you think about the pandemic, if you think about how people are still recovering from the pandemic, we’re trying to make sure that people still have a little bit of breathing room, especially as the pause is going to be lifted, as the President announced, as you heard from the ambassador at the end of this year.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (40:17)
So we want to make sure, again, that we are focused on the middle class, that we are focused on the economy helping folks from the bottom up and the middle out. This has been part of the President’s economic policy. If you look just across the board, the American Rescue Plan, if you look at the bipartisan infrastructure law, if you look at what we’ve done these past several weeks with Democrats in Congress, the Inflation Reduction Act, all of this is part of making sure that we don’t leave people behind, people who have been left behind for generations. So that’s our focus.
Speaker 12: (40:54)
Is the thought process tackle what you can address now, and if that causes college to be more expensive in the future, that’s something you’ll address later?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:02)
Again, this is something that the Department of Education is going to be zero focused on, laser focused on, and make sure that we crack down on that particular issue that you just brought up. But again, this is a big deal what’s happening. This is a big deal for so many Americans who go into debt because they have to pay these loans. And so this, again, will give them a little bit more of breathing room, which is something that you hear from the President every time he talks about the economy and what his focus is on. Go ahead.
Speaker 1: (41:42)
On that note though, I guess what prevents the cycle of debt from continuing? Because there will be students no doubt this coming year who are going to take on more loans. And I guess I’m still confused as to how the cycle of debt is really broken.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (41:56)
I mean, when you think about it, this was in our fact sheets, which I think is really important to state, is how much relief this will provide to 43 million borrowers, including canceling full remaining balance for roughly 20 million borrowers. That matters. That matters to borrowers and their family.
Speaker 1: (42:17)
[inaudible 00:42:17] people who are in high school right now going in, it’s sort of like no solutions for debt, correct?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:22)
Well, look, I think you’re talking about the future. Is that what you’re talking about? You’re talking about.
Speaker 1: (42:27)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:27)
Speaker 1: (42:27)
This is retroactive.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (42:29)
Okay. Well, here’s the thing. The President plan also provides relief to future borrowers and current borrowers by cutting monthly payments for undergraduate loans in half. That is part of the plan. Yes, we talk about $10,000-
Speaker 1: (42:44)
But that’s the payment, not the principle, and that’s what we’re getting at is it’s actually making it easier for people to take on more debt. And there’s nothing in this program that stops schools for … I mean, just anecdotally, my school raised tuition from the time I was a freshman to the time I was a senior. My scholarship didn’t go with it, so that meant I had to take out private loans to cover that.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (43:01)
And again, that is something that the Department of Education is closely looking at. That is what the ambassador was saying, right? When it comes to schools doing that, that is something that the Department of Education is going to crack down on. So again, we’ll refer you to them. That is clearly something that we are monitoring and is important as well. Make a very good point. It is not lost on us. Again, Department of Education, I’m just going to repeat what the ambassador said, is looking into that. They’re monitoring that. They’re going to crack down on that and have a plan to do that. And so that is in their wheelhouse to deal with that particular issue.
Speaker 1: (43:43)
One more question, which is I do know that there have been concerns that the plan could be struck down in courts in some ways. Is this even something that the [inaudible 00:43:51] democratic think tank third way came out saying. And my question is for you all, what preparation is there into thinking people will apply from this program and they could be stuck in some legal limbo?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (44:02)
Well, look. And Ambassador Rice talked about this, that the legal authority that we took is pretty much consistent with the Heroes Act, which is what she talked about, which authorizes the Secretary of Education to take certain actions. He believes they are necessary to ensure borrowers not placed in a worse position financially due to a national emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic. So that is the act, that is the legal authority that was given to the Secretary of Education to do this. We are confident in that legal authority and any other further specific questions on that, I would refer you to Department of Education. Matt, I haven’t called on you. And then I’ll come back to the front.
Speaker 13: (44:47)
I just wanted to return real quick on the potential damage assessment related to the documents, and ask you … I mean, it sounds like you’re not commenting, period. I mean, is that right? I’m trying to figure out if there’s a possibility that there is an assessment going on, you’re just not willing to say it, or is there no assessment going on?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:10)
So I cannot comment on it at all. All I can say is at this time, when it comes to these underlying materials, when it comes to the contents of the ongoing investigation, this is something that it is an independent investigation that the Department of Justice is doing, and I would refer you to them.
Speaker 13: (45:30)
But it would seem logical that the administration for national security reasons would want to assess whether something was breached, separate from an investigation into whether that was-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (45:41)
No, I mean, Matt, I get your question. I hear it. I get your question. Amori just asked the same question. I think there might have been a follow up after that. We just are not going to comment on the contents of this ongoing independent investigation that Department of Justice is doing. We’re not going to comment on the underlying materials at this time. We’re just not going to do that.
Speaker 14: (46:04)
Follow up to that.
Speaker 13: (46:05)
Just another quick question. Tomorrow, Ukraine is Independence Day. John Kirby said earlier that President Biden will be calling President Zelenskyy. Is there anything else that the administration is doing? Obviously, this comes right after the $3 billion in aid that you outlined, but I don’t know if there’s anything else that the administration is doing to mark it.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (46:25)
Well, the $3 billion of assistance that we announced, which is the largest at one time assistance that we’ve provided, I think shows our commitment. This is a long term commitment to Ukraine to continue to fight for their freedom, and bravely as they have been doing for the past six months. As you heard from my colleague, yes, the President’s going to have a conversation with President Zelenskyy, which he’s had multiple conversations with him in the past several months. There’s been an open line of communication with not just the President Zelenskyy, but also his team and the government. And we’ll likely have a readout and we’ll share more of that conversation. But the President wanted to make sure he touched base with President Zelenskyy directly, and that’s what’s going to happen tomorrow. Go ahead. Yeah. I’ll come to the back, but go ahead.
Speaker 15: (47:17)
Thank you, Karine.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:17)
And then I’ll come to you.
Speaker 15: (47:19)
My colleagues have made the point, and actually Democratic Congressman Chris Pappas issued a statement to the effect that this plan regarding college debt doesn’t address the underlying cost of college. So kind of honing in on a question that my colleagues have asked, is the President ready to do more when it comes to addressing the underlying and ever increasing cost of college? Is he willing to work with Congress? Is this something he’s going to address more in the future?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (47:43)
Well, he’s talked about that in the past. He’s talked about he wants to make sure that we lower cost of college for students. Look, since 1980, the total cost of both four-year public and four-year private college has nearly tripled. Even after accounting for inflation, federal support has not kept up. Pell grants once covered nearly 80% of the cost of a four-year public college degree for students from working families, but now only covered a third. The typical undergraduate student with loans now graduates with nearly $25,000 in debt. And so this is something that is going to help deal with that specific issue.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (48:28)
Look, the President has taken multiple actions. We’re looking at today’s actions, but if you think about the $32 billion that he was able to do to give debt relief to more than 1.6 million borrowers, that is something that he has done in this administration. That is historic. That was a historic effort. This is part of it. If you think about the pause, how much that has saved Americans who have not had to pay a dollar, you’ve heard that from his speech today, of repayment since he’s got into office, which started before this President. This President just continued the efforts. So that matters. That is also important. So we just want to make sure that is clear as well.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (49:14)
This is going to help millions and millions of people who, you think about the Pell grant that was discussed a moment ago, if you have a recipient of the Pell grant and you are a borrower, of course, that goes up to $20,000. And that matters because people who are on the Pell grant, they come from households that makes less than $60,000. That matters. Half of that are folks in household that makes less than $30,000. So all of these efforts are going to matter. They’re going to have an effect. And what you heard from my colleagues who were just here moments ago, they’re going to encourage people to take this opportunity to help them with those efforts. I’m just going to move around. I’m just going to move around. Go ahead.
Speaker 16: (50:03)
Thank you. Okay. I have two questions. In recent months, there have been [inaudible 00:50:08] of vandalism of Gandhi’s statue. Two of them have been in New York and one of them has been treated as a hate crime. Is the President aware about it? Because both the President and Vice President have often quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s quotes during their speeches, and they had said they’re great fans of Mahatma Gandhi. What did the President [inaudible 00:50:29] to them? Because these vigilantes are openly commenting on social media about vandalism of Gandhi’s statue.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (50:35)
So Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, his enduring message of truth and non-violence serves as an inspiration. As you said, the President has spoken to this directly and specifically. Any act of vandalism should be condemned in the strongest terms. I’ll refer you to the local law enforcement for more on any investigation or actions that may be taken from that, from their point of view-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:03)
… that may be taken from that. From their point of view, the United States is committed to ensuring the safety of security in Indian and other foreign counterparts. So something that we condemned, any acts of violence. You’ve heard us say this many times before from this podium, and again, Mahatma Gandhi is an inspiration, and you’ve heard that directly from the president many times.
Speaker 16: (51:24)
One more question. In the aftermath of Russian invasion of Ukraine, a lot of people are saying that India US relationship is drifting apart. Do you believe that?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (51:36)
So I think you asked me about the Indian independence and we had a pretty strong response to how we see our relationship with India. It’s indispensable. We see the partners as indispensable partners, and the US India strategic partnership is grounded in our shared commitment to the advancement of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. You’ve heard the president say this, the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity. We are confident in our relationship, and in the years ahead, we’ll continue to stand together to defend the rules based order, foster greater peace, prosperity and security for our people, advance a free and open Indo-Pacific and together, address the challenges we face around the world together. So we see this as a commitment, as a continued partnership.
Speaker 16: (52:31)
Do you have defenses of India on the issue of Ukraine?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (52:34)
Look, we’ve been very clear on where we stand with Ukraine. We just announced a $3 billion additional security assistance to the country to make sure that the people are continuing to fight for their freedom. It’s not just us. You see that with our allies and partners. You see a very unified NATO and they are unified because of the leadership of this president. You’re seeing that NATO is going to expand by two more countries, so this shows the strength in the West and how much we have come together in supporting Ukraine. And so we’ve been very clear on where we stand. It is important to make sure that when a country is fighting for their freedom, fighting for their democracy, for their sovereignty, that we support that. Okay.
Speaker 17: (53:25)
Thanks, Karine. How about the student loans? How can the country afford such a massive handout?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (53:32)
Yeah. Well, Ambassador Rice said that she’s happy to have that discussion. I’m happy to have this discussion as well. Look, if you look at what this president has done, if you look at this coming end of the fiscal year, $1.7 trillion that we have brought down the deficit. That matters. That matters. And if you look at the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s going to add another $ 300 billion, it’s going to bring down the deficit again.
Speaker 17: (54:04)
And you might spend 300 to $900 billion extra, so you can do that and not increase the deficit?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:13)
Here’s the thing. What we are trying to do here, we are doing this responsibly. You heard directly from the president, this is something that is going to be important for middle class Americans. When you think about 90% of the folks who are going to actually benefit from this are making $75,000 or less, and you think about what Republicans did just a couple of years ago. They signed off on a $2 trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy and did not provide any way to pay for that.
Speaker 17: (54:48)
Who’s paying for this?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:50)
Again, here’s what we have done. Here’s what-
Speaker 17: (54:52)
You talked a lot about how much it might cost, it might not cost. Who is paying for this?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (54:57)
What we are saying is the work that this administration has done, the work that the Democrats in Congress have done is actually there and you see that the 1.7 trillion deficit deduction that you see is going to benefit us in being able to do something for the middle class.
Speaker 17: (55:17)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:17)
To do something for the middle class, but when you forgive, this is about doing something for people who make less than $125,000. $1.7 trillion, that’s what we’ve been able to do.
Speaker 17: (55:29)
But when you forgive debt, you’re not just disappearing debt. So who is paying for this?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (55:34)
And then I’ll give you the second part. We lifted the pause, right? We’re going to lift the pause at the end of this year, which is going to matter, which is going to offset a lot of what we’re doing as well. When you think about the $4 billion that’s going to go back as revenue back into this process of folks paying Their college tuition, that matters as well. So we are doing this in a smart way. We are doing this in a way that’s going to be effective. We are doing this in a way that keeps to the president’s promise on giving people who need some breathing room.
Speaker 17: (56:14)
But somebody needs to pay for it. Who?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:16)
I just laid out for you. No, Peter. I just laid out for you how we’re seeing this process and why this matters.
Speaker 17: (56:23)
Is it wealthy Americans? Is it corporations? Who is paying?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (56:24)
Again, I just laid out, because of the work that we have done in the economy, because of the American Rescue Plan, because of the Inflation Reduction Act and because all of this work that this president has done actually has brought down our deficit by $1.7 trillion, unlike what Republicans did when they added to our deficit, $2 trillion, and did not care at all or thought about how this was going to be paid for. They did not actually put in a process or think about how we are going to do this in a smart way. This is not how this administration is doing it. Again, we are happy to continue to have this conversation but I’m going to move around. Go ahead, April. Thank you.
April Ryan: (57:08)
I’m sorry. She said April. Karine, so what I need to find out, the school system for 2022, 2023 is already beginning to see cracks. There are school teacher shortages in some states. There are attacks already on some kids who are in the LGBTQ community. There’s a concern about crime. Is the president working with the secretary of education like he did on the student loan debt forgiveness to talk about trying to ensure the safety, the equity, and just the success of the 20 2022, ’23 school year?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (57:48)
Yeah. This is something that the secretary has talked about, Secretary Cardona specifically. He’s been on a few networks and was asked recently, I believe this past Sunday, some Sunday shows and asked about the upcoming school year, was asked about the teachers, was asked about the equity piece. If you think about the American Rescue Plan and you think about what that did, the billions of dollars that that provided to make sure that school districts were able to rehire teachers, especially what we saw was happening with the pandemic where teachers left the field, where we saw schools shut down because of the pandemic. And because of the work that this president did, because of the work that congressional Democrats did, we were able to get those schools open. Jurisdictions and school districts were able to hire teachers, and that matters. That is important.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (58:43)
We’re continuing, you’ve heard this from Secretary Cardona, he’s going to continue to work with local governments, local schools, to make sure that the American Rescue Plan, the monies that are there to hire those teachers are being used. And so that’s one piece, that’s the teachers.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:03)
And also, the president has put forth billions of dollars, more than $300 billion from the American rescue plan to make sure that there is safety, that communities were able to hire police officers to make sure that there was some protection, that they felt safe and had safe communities.
April Ryan: (59:24)
So what about the piece, the attack on students who are in the LGBT community, from telling them they can’t come to school or not feeding them school lunches? Is that a rights issue as well?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (59:37)
So first of all, we condemn that. You know this president. You know how this president feels about inequities, how he’s been very clear about making sure that we protect young people, especially in the LGBTQ community. We have spoken out about that many times. This is something that Secretary Cardona is working with with local schools and he has talked about as well. So this is clearly an issue that we’re monitoring, we’ll continue to monitor, and we will continue to condemn those types of practices or behavior. I’m going to just go around to people I haven’t called on yet. Go ahead, Dan.
Speaker 18: (01:00:21)
I have two questions. The state of California is scheduled tomorrow to say that you can’t buy new gasoline cars starting in 2035. So what is the White House’s reaction to that? Do you guys support that [inaudible 01:00:39]?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:38)
Say that one more time.
Speaker 18: (01:00:39)
The state of California said after 2035, they’re not going to let you buy new gasoline cars. That news is breaking tomorrow.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:00:48)
Okay. So I have not seen that report so I need to actually take a look, talk to our team so we can provide you a more clear response, so I don’t want to get ahead of what the team might say on that.
Speaker 18: (01:01:04)
What do you say to Jason Furman, who was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Obama White House? He tweeted today, he and Larry Summers were early warning beacons on inflation last year. He tweeted, pouring roughly half a trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning is reckless. Doing it while going beyond one campaign promise and breaking another is even worse. How do you respond to that person-
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:31)
You’re talking about the student loan? Look-
Speaker 18: (01:01:34)
How do you respond to that person from your own party?
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:01:38)
Look, Barack talked about this. The way we see it is a number of independent experts from Moody’s, analysts to the Economic Policy Institute agree that restarting student loan payments around the same time we provide targeted relief will not have any meaningful effect on inflation. That’s because collecting more payments by ending the moratorium will mean borrowers will pull back on spending in other areas. It will have a deflationary effect. That’s the way that experts have seen this as well. This will more than outweigh any limited positive wealth effect of targeted debt cancellation. That’s why the Economic Policy Institute has said that that claim, that canceling debt is inflationary, is profoundly off base. And the Roosevelt Institute has gone even further to say that a deal that canceled student debt and restarted payments would reduce inflation. Taken together, the actions the president announced today are not only economically responsible, they will provide real benefits to families. So we look at the other independent experts. This is also something to take into account as we talk about inflationary causes.
Speaker 19: (01:02:55)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:02:55)
Okay, I’m trying to think. Go ahead, Nadia.
Speaker 19: (01:03:00)
I’m going to stay on the student loans. American students pay higher fees in comparison to Western democracies by far, thousands of dollars. Most of the Western European countries subsidize college fees. So why can’t the administration negotiate with banks, who makes billions of dollars in profit, to make sure that student loans are interest free or subsidize? Most of us who are parents can barely send one or two kids to college in America.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:03:29)
Look, the president himself put three kids through college, undergrad and graduate school, so he understands the burden of what having student debt can mean for a family, for an individual, which is why he took this action. Look, we see this action that we took today is going to be beneficial. It’s going to help families. We went through the numbers, that 90% of families that it’s going to help out that’s making less than 75,000 a year, that matters. That is a big percentage of folks that are going to get relief. And so this is one approach that we’ve taken. The present has taken other historic approaches. When you look at, again, the $32 billion that he was able to cancel that debt for 1.6 million borrowers, that matters. We’ve not seen that. When you think about the historical black colleges and universities who he has historically provided $6 billion, no other president has done that amount before.
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:04:36)
So look, the president is going to continue to look for ways to help out middle class Americans, to continue to look at ways to help out the people in communities that are left behind. But what we’re going to focus on right now is on this particular announcement that we made. We’re encouraging Americans out there, folks out there, borrowers to take advantage of this and to see if they’re eligible, and that’s going to just be our focus for this time.
Speaker 19: (01:05:08)
Karine Jean-Pierre: (01:05:09)
Okay. All right. Thank you guys. See you tomorrow.
Speaker 20: (01:05:11)
Does the Biden White House believe it’s ethical to read…