Critics on both sides of political spectrum say Biden student loan forgiveness illegal

A litany of voices have come out since Wednesday when President Joe Biden announced that he would forgive up to $20,000 of each borrower’s student loan debt, and all of them are saying the same thing–Biden’s plan is illegal.

The administration is claiming that it has the authority to cancel the debts under the 2003 Heroes Act, which it said makes provision “to reduce or eliminate the obligation to repay the principal balance of federal student loan debt, including on a class-wide basis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided all other requirements of the statute are satisfied.”

But critics say this law is being used in a way that it was never intended, and question whether the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the kind of emergency the law was designed to cover.

Renowned legal scholar Jonathan Turley, not a conservative, called Biden’s use of the act “dubious and transparently opportunistic” and said he thought the Supreme Court would strike it down.

Executive overreach

“President Biden has been a constitutional recidivist in executive overreach in a series of major court losses,” Turley said. “The authority cited is highly challengeable. To assume such a massive power to excuse as much as $500 billion, that authority should be both express and clear. It is not.”

“They’ve come up with a little window dressing to make it sound legal,” Heritage Foundation senior legal policy analyst Jack Fitzhenry said. “If it manages to get into court, I have serious doubts that it survives.”

“[The Act] makes some provision for emergency powers in a case of national emergency, and in a technical sense the pandemic remains an ongoing emergency,” he said, “But I think after you concede some of those general premises they get on less sure footing.”

Part of the problem is that student loan cancellation shifts money from poorer taxpayers to relatively wealthier ones.

“This executive overreach transfers taxpayer dollars from hardworking ordinary Americans and small businesses to disproportionately higher earners with college degrees,” Job Creators Network President CEO Alfredo Ortiz said as part of an announcement that the group may challenge the executive order in the courts.

Is there a remedy?

The problem with legal challenges is that it may be like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. If the loan forgiveness has already been given, how is the government supposed to get that money back in a reasonable way?

And while a reasonable argument has been made that the forgiveness won’t help those who really need help in this economy, it just looks stingy to say no when a government official wants to do a giveaway like this.

Chances are that Biden will get away with it like he has gotten away with effectively opening borders, spending us into massive inflation, and leaving 800 defenseless Americans in Afghanistan. This is what America gets by voting for the “nicer” guy instead of the one who would have stopped all this and kept us going in the right direction.

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