EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Every year, achieving greater financial security ranks as one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Given the impact of the coronavirus, the number of people who made that resolution this year was likely even higher. Our country faces a debt crisis—and the incoming administration should act to solve it.
Right now, Americans are drowning in debt. Nearly 8 million Americans fell below the poverty line since last summer. In just the first three months of the pandemic, more than 100 million skipped their monthly payments for mortgages, student loans, credit cards and other forms of debt. US households owe $1.55 trillion in student loan debt, $861 billion in credit card debt and $81 billion in unpaid medical bills. All told, Americans hold a staggering $4.13 trillion in non-housing debt alone, which doesn’t include the monthly mortgage payments that millions of homeowners are struggling to afford.
There are concrete steps the Biden-Harris administration can take to address this crisis right away. President-elect Joe Biden has proposed forgiveness of up to $10,000 for every American with federal student loans. Earlier this month, Senate minority leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on Biden to go even further and issue an executive order that forgives up to $50,000.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.