As opponents of U.S. President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation plan weaponized a new government analysis on its estimated cost, some Democratic lawmakers on Monday pointed to the report as further evidence that the administration is on the right track.
In response to a request by a pair of Republicans, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that Biden’s plan—which will cancel up to $20,000 in debt for federal borrowers with certain incomes—will cost about $400 billion over 30 years.

“Today’s CBO estimate makes clear that millions of middle-class Americans have more breathing room thanks to President Biden’s historic decision to cancel student debt,” declared Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Schumer and Warren were among the congressional Democrats who long called on Biden to implement an even bolder plan canceling up to $50,000 in debt per federal borrower.

In their joint statement, the senators recalled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) signed by former President Donald Trump in late 2017. Blasted by critics as the “GOP tax scam,” the law largely served major corporations and wealthy individuals.

“In contrast to President Trump and Republicans who gave giant corporations $2 trillion in tax breaks, President Biden delivered transformative middle-class relief by canceling student debt for working people who need it most—nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year,” Schumer and Warren said Monday, referencing a CBO analysis of the TCJA.

The Senate is expected to take up another National Defense Authorization Act next month. The version approved by the House in July put $839 billion toward military spending for a single year, which was widely criticized by progressives within and beyond Congress given the urgent healthcare, housing, hunger, and other needs of many Americans.

Schumer and Warren added Monday that “we don’t agree with all of CBO’s assumptions that underlie this analysis, but it is clear the pandemic payment pause and student debt cancellation are policies that demonstrate how government can and should invest in working people, not the wealthy and billionaire corporations.”

In a series of tweets Monday, CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly noted some of the limitations of the new CBO report, including that it does not factor in the planned changes to the income-driven repayment program—which one reporter said last month is “potentially a bigger deal than forgiveness.”

According to the White House, the administration’s plan could “provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers, including canceling the full remaining balance for roughly 20 million borrowers.”

As Common Dreams has reported, Biden’s student debt relief plan is popular among Americans and its announcement has been followed by an increase in the president’s approval rating among younger voters.