President Biden said Monday the White House is “confident” his order to “forgive” up to $10,000 in federal student debt for those making under $125,000 annually will be upheld despite several legal challenges.
“There’s a whole lot of people affected and we’re confident on the law,” Biden said during an interview on the Ryan Cameron Uncensored radio show. “They haven’t made a hard ruling against us and the rationale didn’t bend, what we think is what the law requires, we’re confident we’re right on the law and we think the court will probably come out the right position.”
Biden planned to “forgive” up to $10,000 in federal student debt for those making under $125,000 annually and households making under $250,000, as well as relieving $20,000 in debt for Pell grant recipients. The executive action would transfer the cost of the loans to the American public.
The Supreme Court announced Thursday it will leave the program on-hold and that it will hear oral arguments in the case in February 2023.
In October, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the student loan “forgiveness” plan. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted an administrative stay in response to a challenge to the order by a coalition of six Republican-led states.
A federal judge in Texas also blocked Biden’s plan last month in response to a lawsuit from the Job Creators Network Foundation (JCNF). The conservative advocacy group filed a suit in October arguing that the Biden administration violated federal procedures by not allowing borrowers to provide public comment before the program was unveiled.
Biden on Monday pointed to students and former students who graduated with “enormous debt,” particularly those who graduated during the pandemic, as the reason for the student debt “forgiveness.”
“What it allows people to do is get a new start in life and it also helps the economy so when somebody has that debt taken out from under them they can purchase a home maybe, they can start a business, they can invest in the community, they can begin to do things that are going to grow the economy as well as,” Biden said on the radio show. “And by the way, the debt remains and the debt, if they’re not paying it is still a debt and if they can’t pay it’s still a debt, it’s still a cost to the country.”
Biden went on to attack Republican lawmakers who have spoken out against his order but who have received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which aimed to save businesses that were forced to shut down during the pandemic.
“I find it interesting the very people who are really going after us — the Republicans — and bringing these suits, governors and others but particularly members of the House, they qualify for these PPP loans,” he said, adding that one Republican member received more than $2.1 million in debt forgiveness via PPP loan, though he did not say who. The White House has previously said Representative Vern Buchanan (R., Fla.) had $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven.
Biden added: “Another one, even Marjorie Taylor whatever her name is — no, I’m only joking, shouldn’t say it that way but you know, Greene she got, her family got a significant — I don’t hear them complaining about that debt forgiveness but they’re complaining about debt forgiveness for hard-working, poor and middle class folks who had to borrow money to get to college to begin with.”
The White House previously noted Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven.
But while Biden’s loan “forgiveness” at the expense of American taxpayers was enacted via executive action — a move that House speaker Nancy Pelosi previously suggested was unconstitutional — the PPP program was enacted through congressional legislation and intended to ameliorate the effects of an intrusive government action.
The program aimed to avoid an unemployment crisis after strict Covid-19 mitigation rules shuttered businesses for months. PPP loan recipients were offered forgiveness if they could prove the loans had been used for business expenses.
In response to the JCN lawsuit, Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas called Biden’s plan an “unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power” and noted the program failed to go through standard regulatory processes.
“No one can plausibly deny that it is either one of the largest delegations of legislative power to the executive branch, or one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States,” Pittman wrote in a 26-page opinion.