Student loans

Reviews | If pandemic is ‘over,’ Biden can’t forgive student debt

President Biden has declared that “the pandemic is over” and is now trying to roll it back. No wonder: with just a few words in a 60 Minute InterviewBiden has completely undermined his administration’s legal justification for student loan forgiveness.

Penn Wharton’s Nonpartisan Budget Model estimates that Biden’s loan cancellation plan will cost between $605 billion and $1 trillion. Congress didn’t authorize him to spend anything. So where does the president get the power to unilaterally spend up to $1 trillion? He claims to find it in the heroes law – a law passed after the September 11 attacks to help Americans called up for active military service not to default on their student loans. The act gives “the Secretary of Education specific overriding authority to respond to war or other military or national emergency(emphasis mine).

In a month of August note Explaining the legal basis for Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, Department of Education General Counsel Lisa Brown asserted that the emergency authority includes a “national emergency, such as the current coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19”. This is absurd. The Heroes Act explicitly States that it is intended to assist the “hundreds of thousands of Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard Reservists and members of the National Guard [who] have been called up for active service or active duty. It authorizes the Secretary of Education to cancel or modify their loans in response to a “national emergency, regardless of where such active service is performed”. There is no way to interpret this law as warranting debt relief for a whole class of individuals who have never been in uniform.

Biden isn’t even trying to comply with the intent of the law — perhaps extending the loan waiver, for example, to first responders and frontline medical workers who risked their lives during the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19. He rides a steam engine through the plain text of the law and grants massive debt forgiveness to those who have served in no capacity in a national emergency – and uses the pandemic as justification.

But now that Biden has declared the pandemic “over,” his justification for abusing that law has evaporated. While walking through the Detroit Auto Show, Biden told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley, “If you notice, nobody’s wearing a mask. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape. He said: “We still have a problem with covid. We are still working on it a lot. But the pandemic is over.

It means what his administration’s lawyers have called a “national emergency, such as the present COVID-19 pandemic”, is no longer “present”. And if the pandemic is no longer present, neither is the legal basis for using it to cancel student loans.

Of course, consistency has never been Biden’s forte. In the spring, his administration announced it was lifting Title 42 — the Trump-era public health order that allows border officials to turn away illegal migrants in order to prevent the spread of covid-19 — because Biden Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared it was “no longer necessary” since we now have “increased availability of tools to combat COVID-19” and “97.1% of the US population lives in a county identified as having community level COVID-19 ” weak “.

In other words, Biden effectively declared an end to the pandemic emergency for illegal migrants at the border, but a few months later invoked it to justify canceling student loans. Then he (again) declared the pandemic “over” – even as his administration submit an emergency request to Congress for $27 billion in pandemic spending before the end of the year.

The official pandemic emergency declaration expires October 13, unless Biden extends it for another three months. If he fails to do so, not only will he no longer have a legal justification for canceling student debt, but he will also lose the basis for other social expenditures justified by the pandemic – such as emergency Medicaid expansionthat nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates added to the program 13 million Americans who would otherwise make too much money to qualify, at a cost of nearly $10 billion a month.

So, in all likelihood, Biden will follow up on his declaration that the pandemic is “over” by extending the pandemic emergency declaration soon. Because if Republicans regain a majority in a single chamber in November, the ability to pass Democrat-only spending bills will evaporate — meaning the pandemic emergency will be all Democrats have left to continue. their miasma of fiscal debauchery.