(Opinions expressed in guest reviews are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of RedState.com.)
On August 25, President Biden announced that, “Using the authority Congress has granted to the Department of Education, we will forgive $10,000 in outstanding federal student loans. In addition, students from low-income families who qualify for Pell Grants will have their debt reduced by $20,000.
The problem for Biden is that Congress has never given the president (nor the Department of Education) the authority to unilaterally forgive $400 billion in student loan debt.
As the US District Court in Texas recently ruled, the Constitution vests “all legislative powers” in Congress. However, this authority can be given to the executive power. But if the executive branch seeks to use this power to enact legislation of broad economic and political significance, it must have the express authorization of Congress. Otherwise, the executive branch is unconstitutionally exercising “legislative powers” vested in Congress. In this case, the HEROES Act—a law to provide loan assistance to military personnel who defend our nation—does not expressly authorize the executive branch to create a $400 billion student loan forgiveness program. Thus, the Program is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated.”
In other words, a federal judge ruled Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan “unlawful” because the Constitution vests the power of the purse in Congress, not the executive branch. The judge also ruled that the Biden administration grossly violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide public comment before the decision was made.
After the Texas ruling, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals further criticized Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. On November 14, a three-judge panel issued a ruling that temporarily barred the administration from moving forward with a debt relief plan across the country.
According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, “We GRANT the Extraordinary Motion for Admission to the Court of Appeals. The decision will remain in effect until further action by this court or the Supreme Court of the United States.”
As expected, the Biden administration did not welcome the latest decisions with open arms.
“We are confident in our legal authority for the student debt relief program and believe it is necessary to help borrowers who need it most as they recover from the pandemic,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
He added, “The administration will never stop fighting to support working and middle-class Americans.”
Someone needs to tell the White House press secretary that the administration’s ill-advised decision to forgive student loans will actually hurt working and middle-class Americans while greatly benefiting the wealthy.
As Lindsey Burke, director of The Heritage Foundation’s education policy center, recently wrote:
“Working and middle-class Americans who choose not to go to college or pay off their student loans responsibly shouldn’t be forced to pay off other people’s loans…just the ones who are statistically more likely to earn more over their lifetimes by having a college degree. It’s fundamentally unfair, and it’s the epitome of putting special interests ahead of working Americans.”
Plus, Biden’s bailout plan is a total slap in the face to those of us who are paying off our student loans, including this author. It’s also blatantly unfair to the millions of young Americans who decide to forego college to avoid accumulating massive debt.
Fortunately, Biden’s student loan forgiveness appears to be dead in its tracks, at least for now. Ultimately, the case will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule that the plan is unconstitutional in its current iteration.
Perhaps the Court could use the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in its final decision. In July 2021, Pelosi admitted, “People think the president of the United States has the power to forgive the debt. He is not. He can delay, he can delay, but he does not have the power. It should be an act of Congress.”
Or, the Court could refer to Biden’s own words that he falsely claimed that his student loan forgiveness plan “passed by one or two votes” in Congress.
As we all know, Congress never voted on it. With the GOP taking over the House in the midterms, it’s a fact that there won’t be any votes on it for the next two years.
Suffice it to say that President Biden’s hands-off approach failed in the short term. However, given that young Americans are voting blue in 2022, it remains a distinct possibility that the issue won’t die anytime soon.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Heartland Institute.