The Dallas Morning News
Student Debt Forgiveness Isn’t President’s Call
Biden’s plan is worrisome and unconstitutional
It is reasonable to believe that forgiving student loans is the right thing for the government to do. There are serious arguments about the skyrocketing cost of college and the reality that many students are forced to bargain between taking out loans or not getting a degree that will help raise them out of poverty.
It is also reasonable to believe that it is the wrong thing to do. People should pay back what they borrow. It is unfair to transfer the voluntary burden of some onto others. A government drowning in debt shouldn’t take on an additional $300 billion to $400 billion.
Whichever side you take, President Joe Biden’s plan to broadly forgive student loans is still problematic, and we hope and expect the Supreme Court will see it that way.
The founders of our country were very clear about the separation of powers. They did not want an executive to be able to use the nation’s purse to reward favored constituents or to punish political opponents.
But Biden essentially acted as both Congress and president when he unilaterally decided last year to take the debt burden of some Americans and place it on all Americans for years to come.
In oral arguments last week, the solicitor general stretched credulity by arguing that the Biden plan is nothing more than a tweak of past legislation that gave the secretary of education modest power, in the face of an emergency, to modify student loan terms.
If you call your bank and ask for a payment extension, you might get it. But if you call to ask that an entire loan be forgiven, you will learn the meaning of the word no.
Biden’s presumption that he can just transfer the wealth of this country from the many to the few is a dangerous precedent. What’s to stop the next president from deciding that a preferred group of voters should get a lump sum from the federal government?
There is no question that college costs have gotten out of hand for many people. And it is true that having a college degree remains one of the best ways to achieve upward mobility in our country.
It’s also true that borrowers aren’t without choices that can reduce costs. And taking out student loans is still a choice.
The moral grounds for forgiving loans are muddy. But the legal ones are not.
The Constitution gives the power plainly to Congress to pass legislation authorizing such an expenditure. That choice does not belong to the president alone.