June 13, 2021

Joe Biden dashes dreams of using executive power to forgive student debt

President-elect Joe Biden made a number of promises and proposals during his 2020 run for the presidency, with one of those being his focus on helping college students by canceling a portion of their student loan debt, which was a page taken straight out of the progressive playbook.

According to Marketwatch, Biden probably won over plenty of students with such a promise, but in a recent interview with the Washington Post, Biden backtracked to some degree, questioning the legality of using his executive power to magically erase such debts. 

“I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, [but] it’s arguable that the president may have the executive power to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt,” Biden said. “Well, I think that’s pretty questionable. I’m unsure of that. I’d be unlikely to do that.”

College students who voted for Biden — based on his promise to help them eliminate student loan debt — might be having a bit of buyer’s remorse by this point, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) both used the proposition of canceling student debt as a cornerstone of their campaigns, which ultimately fizzled out.

Attorneys from Harvard Law School’s project on Predatory Student Lending supported Warren’s student loan debt cancellation strategy at the time, arguing in a letter that the president has the ability to do so by directing the Secretary of Education to make the move.

“Congress has granted the Secretary a more specific and unrestricted authority to create and to cancel or modify debt owed under federal student loan programs in the Higher Education Act (HEA) itself,” the Harvard lawyers wrote at the time.

Critics of canceling debt argue that pulling the trigger on such an action would likely result in a number of lawsuits initiated by lending institutions, not to mention that it would likely be a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which makes it illegal to spend money that a government agency doesn’t have.

If Biden doesn’t follow through on his promise to help college students, they might just have to resort to paying their student loan debt the old fashioned way, like the rest of us did — by working hard and/or joining the U.S. military.

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