Since Thomas Jefferson served as the third president of the United States, America has grappled with presidential overreach. When Congress ratified the US Constitution in 1787, it made it plainly clear that no one group or individual had the power to unilaterally make decisions for the country through a system known as checks and balances. Still, on Thursday, August 25, President Joe Biden used a law designed for one purpose and applied it to another to justify a $300 to $500 billion student loan forgiveness program.
Since the announcement, Republicans and economists sounded the alarm about Biden’s go-it-alone move that far-left Democrats have advocated for for years. On Friday, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Nearly 100 GOP House members joined in calling on her to stand up to the president’s action that he didn’t have the authority to take without Congress; which is something she herself acknowledged in 2021.
Republicans Demand Pelosi Stand Up to Biden
In the letter to the speaker, Hice stated the administration didn’t have the legal authority to cancel federal student loan debts. The president’s plan calls for forgiving $10,000 in federal loans and $20,000 if a borrower received a Pell Grant. Joining Hice were 93 Republican lawmakers, who demanded she stand by her previous statement and call out the illegal act.
The GOP lawmaker said Biden was desperate for a political win and said his transferring hundreds of billions from student loans to the national debt would burden American workers. Hice declared the move a “mockery of our Constitution and the rule of law.” He stated Pelosi could cave to the Left or back up her own words, which he noted reflected the correct position.
The letter warned the forgiveness plan would make education costly and college less affordable — the issue Biden claims he’s trying to solve. Additionally, the lawmakers agreed the administration hadn’t presented a “plausible legal authority” to implement the policy.
Penn Wharton Budget Model Cites Bad Public Policy
According to the White House, up to 43 million borrowers could see relief. Still, the type of loan one has is important. To qualify for the program, one must earn less than $125,000 or $250,000 if married. It must be a federal loan held by the Department of Education through a federal lender. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees qualify for forgiveness, but loans received after June 30, 2022, won’t qualify.
The administration is using the HEROES Act of 2003 to justify the move. It was a specific program Congress authorized to forgive school loans to certain members of the military fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.
So, how fair is the program? According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, over 70% of the debt forgiveness will go to households in the top 60% of income distribution. This means the middle and lower class will subsidize the education of higher income-earning Americans who willfully accepted debt and have not paid off a loan.
The question is, how does this solve college affordability? Does it prevent universities from raising tuition higher in the years to come? Does it get to the root of the fundamental problems?