Will Biden try to cancel student debt using executive order?


The subject of student loan forgiveness was hotly debated all through the 2020 primaries, primarily among Democrats. Now, at least inside of Joe Biden’s party, that debate appears to be over. Democrats from “the squad” all the way to the Senate Majority leaderships are jumping on the bandwagon, calling for a massive erasure of up to $50,000 in student loans. They’re not interested in having Congress tackle the question either. They’re calling on Joe Biden to whip out his magical Executive Order pen and do it unilaterally. The irony of the fact that many of these members are the same Democrats who complained bitterly about Donald Trump’s use of executive orders appears to be lost on them. 

The Democratic-led Congress pressured President Biden Thursday to unilaterally cancel up to $50,000 of federal student loan debt, with establishment liberals joining the party’s far-left “Squad” to demand quick debt relief.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer joined the left-leaning lawmakers to call in a resolution for the president to eliminate student debt for every federal borrower through executive action.

They said Mr. Biden can execute the “life-changing measure” on his own.

The fact that you’re seeing Democrats running the gamut from Ilhan Omar to Chuck Schumer calling on Biden to do this shows how entrenched the idea is among liberals and progressives. The first question you might be pondering is whether or not Biden could actually do it legally. His party is claiming that the Secretary of Education, Phil Rosenfelt (acting), has the authority, under the direction of the President, to broadly cancel federal student debt under the Higher Education Act of 1965. While individual loan forgiveness is clearly possible under specific conditions, a blanket elimination of debt in the manner being suggested has never been attempted, so we’re in something of a gray area here.

The Democrats are also asking Joe Biden to go back on his own previously stated positions. On the campaign trail, Biden said he was in favor of some student loan forgiveness, but he specified $10,000 and said that it should be enacted by Congress. Chuck Schumer is also going back on his word by endorsing this resolution because it doesn’t include a wage cap. Schumer has previously said that he would only support student loan erasures for those earning less than $125,000 per year.

Even if we were to consider this scheme, who are the main beneficiaries? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people with at least a four-year college degree, on average, earn nearly twice as much as those with a high school diploma. Is it really the best use of taxpayer money to erase the debt of Ivy League graduates who willingly agreed to take on that debt in the first place?

The more obvious and pressing question here deals with the fundamental unfairness of such a proposal. As currently worded, the resolution would forgive up to $50,000 of debt currently held by former students. What about the students who will graduate high school this fall? (Assuming their teachers ever agree to go back to work, anyway.) If they have to take out loans in order to be able to afford college, will they still be on the hook to pay the money back or will this become a perpetual “free money” machine? And what of the workers who just finished paying off all of their student debt last year? Will Congress refund their money?

A move like this, even if it’s legal, just sends a terrible message. It will encourage more people to take on reckless amounts of debt with the expectation that Uncle Sam will simply turn the other cheek and tell them they don’t need to worry about paying it back. Also, you realize where all of this “free money” is coming from, right? The burden is simply being shifted onto the taxpayers. That’s probably the biggest reason that this sort of plan needs to be done via the legislature if it’s to be done at all, just as Joe Biden himself has said repeatedly.

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