Young people are in the dark economically. Will they sour on Biden?

Ashley Robinson has been paying off her student loans for more than a decade, constantly unable to pay off $50,000 in debt because the interest is changing her payments. President Joe Biden’s debt relief efforts last fall were momentarily exhilarating and then, quickly, deeply disappointing.

„Based on a big, broken promise? Yeah, I think that definitely negatively affects how I feel about him,” said Robinson, 33, a DC-based independent consultant.

Biden last year announced a plan to relieve the debts of 43 million Americans, allowing those below certain incomes to write off $10,000 to $20,000.

The initiative — a campaign promise by the president — was struck down by the Supreme Court last summer, leaving the administration with very narrow paths to pursue student loan reform.

For many young voters, disillusionment with student loan relief is bleeding into a bleak sense of the economy, the latest major election issue. ABC News/Ipsos A key voting bloc threatens the November polls and Biden’s enthusiasm: young people.

Seven in 10 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 believe the economy is „very bad” or „very bad.” Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School In October and November.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Like their older counterparts, young people have quickly faced price hikes for daily essentials and higher rates of borrowing on credit cards or mortgages over the past year. But they are more likely to face similar financial challenges with student loans.

Because of young people’s strong tendency to vote Democratic, their disaffection may not be a decisive factor in next year’s election — but for voters like Robinson, he says, it contributes to a sense of apathy.

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„I am not interested in voting, but voting is important to me. So I continue to participate,” he said.

Noting that Biden faced few ways to achieve debt relief without relying on executive power over a divided majority in Congress, and that even those efforts had been shut down by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court, Robinson said he knew it was „not going to be a cakewalk.” For anyone.”

Still, it feeds into her broader feeling about Biden and his administration: It’s „not as progressive as I need it to be.”

„I truly believe it’s Biden’s best, but I don’t believe Biden’s best is enough,” he said, adding that he wished he had been more proactive and aggressive in offering relief.

Turnout has been high among young voters in the past two election cycles — and Robinson says he will be one of them in 2024.

That’s because young voters are driven by a combination of issues, says Abby Geesa, deputy director of CIRCLE, an independent research organization focused on youth civic engagement at Tufts University.

„I don’t necessarily think it’s Biden’s ability to really speak to young voters that he doesn’t cancel all the student loan debt pools,” Giesa said.

About 12% of young adults listed student loan debt among their top three issues, while black voters were twice as likely to list it in their top three, Keesa said in a recent quote. Circle survey From November.

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With 11 months to go, the impact of Biden’s failed student loan relief policy will be determined by how well he can relate to what else his administration has done, Geesa said.

More than 3.6 million people have received debt relief under Biden, totaling $132 billion. The Department of Education has also created a new payment plan, the SAVE Program, which it calls a more affordable option for most borrowers.

And the administration is working on a short-term loan relief policy to be rolled out before the 2024 election, which would target borrowers who have been hit hard by debt. But that too faces legal challenges.

Most of those who received debt relief were in delinquent programs, income-based repayment programs, or public service loan forgiveness programs. Both programs were plagued by systemic failures that prevented people from receiving the debt relief they were promised after paying back a certain number of years.

More than 900,000 people have received loan relief through income-based repayment, and 750,000 have received relief through amendments to the PSLF program.

Liam Goode, a teenager with student loans who spoke to ABC News, didn’t see any of that relief and even thought Biden’s initial policy was too little.

After landing a job as an environmental planner this fall, Gude said years of low-wage work and her way into the middle class gave her every reason to be optimistic about the nation’s strong job market and broader economy.

Instead, Gude blamed President Biden for failing to cancel a massive $98,000 student loan.

Goode, 30, said of an executive order that would have canceled up to $20,000 in loans per borrower, but was struck down by the Supreme Court in June.

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said Goode, a self-identified progressive who lives in western Massachusetts. „It’s laughable — it’s a shame.”

Gude takes issue with other economic policies, such as Federal Reserve interest rates, which, in theory, threaten to increase unemployment in an effort to combat inflation. Biden’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war has also disappointed Goode, he said

Still, he admitted, „Biden is better than Trump.” But that doesn’t mean Goode will vote for Biden, who said he wants to see more progressive plans, including an ambitious effort to cancel student loans.

Some young people with student loans say they plan to vote for Biden despite the failure of the debt cancellation ambition.

Michael Stewart, a student loan borrower, said he was most excited about Biden during the 2020 campaign. But, Stewart added, some of that enthusiasm also stems from hatred of Biden’s opponent.

„Four years ago I was definitely very excited for him, but it was because of the replacement,” Stewart told ABC News.

After voting for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2020 primary, Stewart threw her support behind Biden — and intends to do the same next year. While Biden failed to achieve his campaign promise on student loan relief, he made a legitimate effort, Stewart added.

„I fault him 0%,” Stewart said. „He did everything he could.”

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