In an interview earlier this month, President Biden said the pandemic was over. Interestingly, this statement undermines the legal argument the administration is using to justify student loan forgiveness and other wasteful programs.
During an interview with “60 Minutes” on CBS News, President Biden said that “the pandemic is over. We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it… but the pandemic is over.”
In August, Biden announced his plan to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000. Pell Grant recipients who make less than $125,000 would be eligible for $20,000 in cancellation. For couples that file jointly, the limit would be $250,000.
In an attempt to justify this plan on a legal basis, the White House cited the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003. This bill gives the Education Secretary the authority to grant student loan relief during a war, military operation, or national emergency.
Specifically, the Secretary is authorized to waive or modify student loans on behalf of those “who are affected individuals [to ensure that they] are not placed in a worse position financially in relation to that financial assistance because of their status as affected individuals.”
The bill defines an “affected individual” as someone serving in active duty, serving in the National Guard, residing in a disaster area, or someone who “suffered direct economic hardship as a direct result of a war or other military operation or national emergency, as determined by the Secretary.”
This bipartisan bill is six pages long and its findings make it painfully obvious that this assistance is intended for military personnel. In fact, all six of the sections that comprised Congress’s findings referenced the military.
The White House has taken this provision and claimed that the coronavirus pandemic, which has been declared a national emergency, allows broad cancellation of student loans for millions of Americans, regardless of whether they served in the military.
While this is obviously a dishonest interpretation of the bill, it still relies on the idea that the President considers COVID-19 a national emergency necessitating up to $1 trillion in new spending. As is evident by the President’s statement on “60 Minutes,” it’s clear that the pandemic, to Democrats, is simply a vehicle to implement policies they’ve pushed for decades.
If the pandemic is no longer in full swing, there are numerous other COVID-19 policies the U.S. could begin rolling back.
Importantly, the moratorium on student loan repayments has been extended since March 2020, costing taxpayers nearly $140 billion. In fact, several relief programs still remain active since their creation in 2020 and 2021.
Obamacare tax credits remain enhanced from the American Rescue Plan, and Democrats have continued to push for another extension at the end of this year.
There are still billions of dollars left unspent from the $350 billion allocated by the American Rescue Plan to Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
Just this month, the White House asked Congress for $22.4 billion in even more funds for vaccines.
President Biden is right. We are well beyond the height of the pandemic, and we are finally enjoying some normalcy. This, however, means that the years of sweeping, wasteful spending and enhanced executive authority must also come to an end.