President Joe Biden, under pressure from progressive activists and politicians, has given consideration to demands that he “cancel” hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt.
Republicans are steadfastly opposed to such an idea, and now a group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has introduced legislation that would prohibit the administration from broadly canceling any debt without first receiving explicit congressional authorization, the Daily Caller reported.
That legislation, known as the Debt Cancellation Accountability Act, would require the Department of Education to request appropriated funds specifically for any sort of “class-based” cancelation of student loan debt while still allowing for already authorized debt cancelation for individuals on a “case-by-case” basis.
Biden still considering student loan debt forgiveness
CNBC reported in April that President Biden had all but completely rejected progressive demands that he cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per individual, but did signal his openness to cancel at least $10,000 or more in debt per individual.
It is estimated that there is around $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt nationwide, with about 10 million borrowers in default or delinquent on payments. Canceling $10,000 per borrower would equate to roughly $321 billion and completely eliminate the obligations of approximately 12 million borrowers, though an estimated 70 percent of borrowers would still carry some remaining debt.
Sen. Scott, however, noted that the reality of the situation is that such a move wouldn’t actually “cancel” any debt at all, but rather would unfairly shift the obligation from the borrowers to all American taxpayers.
Imposing limitations on the administration
“The Biden administration’s latest move to cancel millions of dollars in student loans is yet another example of how far it will go to appease the radical left,” Sen. Scott said in a statement. “The reality is, a blanket forgiveness of student loans only benefits a small percentage of the population at the expense of millions of other hardworking Americans. Those who have saved to pay for the education they chose to get, or have no debt at all because they chose a valuable career that doesn’t require a college degree, shouldn’t be on the hook to bail out folks that voluntarily took on debt and now want someone else to pay for it.”
“That’s not how the real world works. Our legislation, the Debt Cancellation Accountability Act, will hold this administration accountable to American taxpayers by requiring Congressional approval for any mass cancellation of student debt,” he added. “When I was governor of Florida, we focused on solving the real problem behind massive student loan debt: the rising cost of higher education. Biden should do the same.”
According to the legislation, if passed into law, it would deny authority to the Education Secretary to “provide class-based loan forgiveness unless funds have been specifically requested and appropriated for the purpose” if that class covers more than two individuals and the amount in question exceeds $1 million.
The bill put forward a process by which the secretary can request appropriations from Congress, albeit with a fair amount of strings attached and various specifics that must be addressed and explained prior to receiving approval from lawmakers. The legislation would exempt the already existing targeted loan forgiveness program that can be used to assist individual borrowers on a case-by-case basis if those individuals meet certain eligibility requirements and conditions.
“Blatant wealth redistribution will only make inflation worse”
Co-sponsoring Sen. Scott’s bill are Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), John Barrasso (R-ID), and Mike Braun (R-IN). Braun said in a statement, “The Biden administration’s plan to ‘cancel’ millions in student loans will shift the debt of disproportionally higher-earning borrowers onto every American.”
“This blatant wealth redistribution will only make inflation worse at a time when millions of Americans are already feeling the burden of record-high inflation,” the Indiana senator added. “I’m glad to join Senator Scott on the Debt Cancellation Accountability Act to prevent the Biden administration from such mass executive overreach.”