With respect to the question of whether Biden should forgive student debt via an executive order, this is the right argument:
I think student debt relief is directly comparable to Trump’s farm giveaways — they did not “make sense” as policy and they certainly weren’t efficient or well-targeted, but they didn’t hurt anyone and the farmers liked the money.— Matthew Yglesias 🍦 (@mattyglesias) November 16, 2020
The only relevant question is whether it’s better than doing nothing. If Democrats were about to start a term with 55 Senate votes that were prepared to end the filibuster, I would prefer to make student debt relief as part of a broader COVID-19 relief package and we could think about how best to do it. But the BEST case scenario is “Joe Manchin: Median Vote!” and the worst and probably somewhat more likely is Republicans retaining the Senate so it’s moot. Refusing to do student debt relief by executive order doesn’t suddenly make it easier to break partisan gridlock, so there’s no tradeoff with a policy that you’d prefer all things being equal.
The most critical factor for 2022 will be the state of the economy. Among other things a student debt jubilee would be a substantial stimulus policy, and that is, in itself, sufficient reason to do it. Given the congressional context Biden needs to pull every lever he can pull unilaterally that can put money into the economy. Student debt relief is one of those things, so it should be done.