Student-loan forgiveness is Biden’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass to buy votes
College-debt forgiveness is President Biden’s Hail Mary pass to buy votes and avoid a disastrous rout in the midterm elections. But after the votes are counted, the scheme is likely to collapse.
If you have college loans and you’re celebrating Biden’s announcement, don’t spend the money just yet.
Federal courts are almost certain to smack down Biden’s plan as a brazen violation of the Constitution.
Biden has no authority — zip — to issue a blanket forgiveness of college debt without Congress.
The scheme is estimated to cost at least $330 billion, which amounts to double the entire annual budget of the US Army. Only Congress, which has the “power of the purse,” can decide to spend that kind of money. Not Baron Biden.
Biden and his fellow Democrats know that. Biden himself called college-loan forgiveness “pretty questionable” in December 2020. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted just 13 months ago that the president does not have the authority to forgive debt.
“That has to be an act of Congress.”
But that was then. Now, as the November elections near and Biden’s unpopularity drags down Democratic candidates, the prez is announcing college-debt forgiveness to buy votes. Some 43 million people are expected to benefit from the giveaway, including half of all Latino student-loan borrowers, according to Excelencia in Education, a higher-education think tank.
Three times already, the US Supreme Court has halted what Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain euphemistically approves as the “ultimate work-around” to make law when Congress is stalled. The justices have made it clear the president — any president — cannot impose huge changes on the nation using rules made by unelected, executive-branch agencies.
Last September, the Supremes struck down the Biden Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium. Sorry, they said — the CDC was never given such authority.
In January, the Supremes blocked Biden’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration from forcing large employers to mandate COVID vaccines. The high court ruled OSHA didn’t have that power.
And in June, the Supremes ruled that Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency could not shut down fossil-fuel-burning electric plants across the nation. Congress had never authorized the EPA to make such sweeping and “consequential” changes. Only Congress can make such changes.
Three slap-downs by the justices, but Biden’s at it again, trying to weasel through an enormous, costly and “consequential” change in American law by disguising it as a Department of Education rule change justified by the pandemic. Not likely to pass the smell test.
And thank goodness. Because Biden’s legally dubious plan would make college even more unaffordable than it is now. For decades, colleges have ruthlessly raised costs at about six times the rate of inflation. College tuition and fees have increased 1,200% since 1980.
Where has the money gone? To fund more college administrators (not classroom instruction) with lavish salaries. Diversity and inclusion officers make $300,000 to $400,000 or more, vastly eclipsing what full, tenured professors make. Not to mention $1 million salaries for many college presidents. Educational administrators are riding the gravy train, courtesy of the borrowed money.
It’s a racket. The more college loans are available, the more colleges hike their prices. A New York Federal Reserve study found that for every dollar loaned, prices are hiked by 60 cents.
The educational-industrial complex is booming thanks to these loans and pressuring the White House to keep the spigot open. Biden’s also listening to pillow talk from his wife, Jill, a community-college teacher and advocate for “free” college.
Colleges will use Biden’s debt forgiveness as an excuse to raise tuition and fees even more. Who cares about the price tag if the debts will be forgiven? It’s funny money.
Not funny, however, for families saving for their children’s or grandchildren’s future education.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget forecasts that if Biden’s debt forgiveness takes effect, in just five years, the student-debt problem will be as bad as it is now because colleges will keep raising prices and raking in taxpayer-funded loans.
Instead, Congress should be enacting reforms that protect student borrowers from accruing mountains of debt and make colleges partly responsible when borrowers default.
It’s estimated that Biden’s scheme will cost every American taxpayer about $2,000. That means the plumber and store clerk who didn’t go to college and the college grads who skimped and sacrificed to repay their debts are bailing out the borrowers. Obscene — so unfair that Congress would never pass it.
That’s why Biden’s acting by executive fiat. He’s buying votes. The big question is who will turn out at the polls this November, the borrowers who hit the jackpot or the suckers being forced to pay for it.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.