NAACP President Derrick Johnson criticized President Joe Biden’s plan to address the racial wealth gap for failing to include measures to respond to the student debt crisis, CNN reports.
Biden traveled to Tulsa to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre on Tuesday and announced plans to address racial wealth disparities.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will undertake new efforts to address housing discrimination and inequities in home appraisals. The administration will also use its purchasing power to grow federal contracts with small disadvantaged businesses by 50%, amounting to an additional $100 billion over five years.
Biden has also rolled out plans to invest in underserved neighborhoods, expand transportation to underdeveloped areas, invest $31 billion in small businesses, and boost Black homeownership.
What about student debt?
"Until we address the student loan debt crisis, which disproportionately impacts African Americans, we can never get to the question of home ownership, therefore accumulating wealth," Johnson told Politico.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pushed Biden to issue an executive order to cancel student debt up to $50,0000. Biden has resisted and said he would support Congressional legislation to cancel up to $10,000 in student debt.
"While many components of President Biden's budget appear to be encouraging, when it comes to addressing America's racial wealth gap, it fails to address a key issue at the core of the racial wealth gap, the student loan debt crisis," Johnson said in a statement to CNN. "Student loan debt continues to suppress the economic prosperity of Black Americans across the nation. You cannot begin to address the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis."
Experts agree on need for debt forgiveness:
“When you have more student loans, you have less buying power,” Andre Perry, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Inside Higher Ed. “You have lower credit scores. It’s a barrier to homeownership. If we really want to help close the racial wealth gap, we would include some provision around student loan cancellation.”
“Student loans are something that we are told we have to do to become middle-class,” he added. “Much of this debt should be canceled because postsecondary education is foundational to economic growth.”