Biden Unveils New Plan for Student Debt Relief, Criticizes GOP Following Supreme Court Ruling

by Andrew Wright
student debt relief plan

President Joe Biden pledged on Friday to move forward with a new initiative aimed at providing student loan relief to millions of borrowers. He also criticized Republican “hypocrisy” for triggering a Supreme Court ruling that invalidated his original effort.

Biden stated that his administration had already initiated the process of working within the authority granted by the Higher Education Act of 1965, which he deemed “the most viable path remaining to offer debt relief to as many borrowers as possible.”

In the interim, as student loan repayment requirements are set to resume in the fall, the White House is implementing measures to facilitate a smooth transition and mitigate the risk of default for borrowers who may fall behind over the next year.

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The president acknowledged that the new programs would take longer than his initial effort to alleviate student loan debt.

During a press briefing at the White House, Biden shifted blame to Republicans, urging disgruntled borrowers affected by the court’s decision to hold them accountable. He seeks to maintain a political advantage despite the ruling undermining a significant promise to young voters crucial for his 2024 reelection campaign.

Biden remarked, “These Republican officials simply couldn’t bear the idea of providing relief to working-class and middle-class Americans. The hypocrisy exhibited by elected Republican officials is astonishing.”

Attributing staunch opposition to student loan forgiveness to the GOP allows Biden’s reelection campaign to temporarily retain the issue as a position of strength. However, this may offer little comfort to the 43 million Americans who benefited from the original program and now must wait for its replacement to materialize.

“We should not be burdened with insurmountable debt throughout our lives to pursue education,” stated Voters of Tomorrow, an organization led by Gen Z that advocates for the empowerment of young Americans, in a statement.

The White House’s efforts to forgive loans aimed to fulfill a promise Biden made during his 2020 campaign to eliminate student loan debt, a concept particularly popular among young voters and progressives. Both groups are vital for the president in the upcoming presidential race, but their enthusiasm for supporting him may wane following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Wisdom Cole, the national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division, emphasized that Black Americans played a significant role in electing Biden and thus expects him to “fulfill the task” of providing relief to borrowers.

“This will have a significant impact on the next election,” Cole stated, adding, “If we fail to act, we perpetuate the cycle of witnessing our elected leaders make promises without following through.”

According to a May poll by The Big Big News-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 43% of U.S. adults approved of Biden’s approach to handling student debt, similar to his overall approval rating of 40% in the same poll.

The poll suggested that Biden received credit for his handling of the issue, especially among young adults. Fifty-three percent of adults under 30 years of age expressed approval of Biden’s approach to student debt, compared to only 36% who approved of his overall job performance.

Senior administration officials revealed that Biden’s top advisers had recently met frequently to prepare for a Supreme Court ruling on student loans. They also engaged with advocates and congressional allies. Following Friday’s decision, Biden convened with top advisers and instructed them to promptly commence the implementation of a new loan plan.

The White House argues that its new efforts will withstand future legal challenges, despite the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the administration maintains that its original plan was legally sound.

Biden expressed frustration at suggestions that his efforts to alleviate student loan burdens had raised borrowers’ hopes unnecessarily.

“I did not offer false hope,” he stated. “The Republicans snatched away the hope that was given to them.”

The political stakes are particularly high since progressive Democrats in Congress and activists have been urging the administration to provide an alternative to Biden’s original student loan plan for months, fearing that the Supreme Court would ultimately block the president’s initial efforts.

While many progressives argued that the Higher Education Act was the optimal vehicle all along, the administration had concerns that implementation would have been slower if they had initially pursued that avenue.

The new approach utilizes a provision that allows Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “compromise, waive, or release” student loans. The Biden administration previously used the same basis to forgive $6 billion in loans for borrowers who were deceived by their colleges.

The specifics of the new forgiveness plan will be negotiated through a federal rulemaking process that the administration initiated on Friday. This process empowers the Education Department to establish or modify federal regulations with the force of law.

However, there is no guarantee that the plan will withstand another legal challenge.

While the Higher Education Act has been employed to cancel student debt in the past, it has never been done at this scale. Lawyers for the Trump administration concluded in 2021 that the education secretary “does not have statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancellation” under the act.

The GOP has consistently argued that repaying student loans is a matter of fairness, and numerous leading Republicans celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling. Betsy DeVos, who served as secretary of education under President Donald Trump, referred to Biden’s original plan as “grossly unfair to the majority of Americans who do not have student loans.”

Republicans currently vying for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination enthusiastically praised the decision. Former Vice President Mike Pence expressed satisfaction that the court invalidated the “radical left’s attempt to use the money of taxpayers who played by the rules and repaid their debts to cancel the debt of bankers and lawyers in New York, San Francisco, and Washington.”

While addressing the Moms for Liberty conference in Philadelphia on Friday, Trump criticized Biden’s efforts on student loans as “an attempt to buy votes, nothing more.” Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that the Supreme Court was “right to reject Joe Biden’s power grab.”

Following Biden’s announcement of his response, some Republicans swiftly rejected it.

“Taxpayers have once again been deceived by this administration,” remarked Representative Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican. “Today, President Biden announced that taxpayers will be compelled to bear the costliest regulation in our nation’s history.”

This report includes contributions from Big Big News writers Chris Megerian and Collin Binkley.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about student debt relief plan

What is President Biden’s new plan for student debt relief?

President Biden has unveiled a new plan aimed at providing relief for student loan borrowers. The plan is being developed under the authority of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and seeks to offer debt relief to as many borrowers as possible.

Why is President Biden blaming the GOP for the Supreme Court ruling?

President Biden has criticized Republican “hypocrisy” for triggering the Supreme Court decision that invalidated his original student debt relief effort. He argues that Republican officials opposed providing relief for working-class and middle-class Americans, holding them responsible for blocking the initiative.

How will the new programs for student debt relief be implemented?

The White House is creating an “on ramp” to repayment and implementing measures to ease the threat of default for borrowers who may fall behind over the next year. The details of the new forgiveness plan will be negotiated through a federal rulemaking process initiated by the Education Department.

Will the new student debt relief plan face legal challenges?

The Biden administration believes that the new efforts will withstand legal challenges, despite the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court. However, there is no guarantee, as the scale of student debt cancellation under the Higher Education Act has never been attempted before.

How does the Supreme Court ruling impact student loan borrowers?

The Supreme Court ruling invalidates President Biden’s original plan to erase $400 billion in student loan debt. As a result, borrowers who benefited from the initial program will have to wait for the new plan to take shape, leaving them uncertain about the status of their debt relief.

More about student debt relief plan

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John123 July 1, 2023 - 5:56 pm

wow biden’s new plan for student debt relief is a big deal. it’s like finally some hope for those struggling borrowers. and blaming the gop? yeah, they deserve it! hypocrites!

ProudProgressive July 1, 2023 - 9:54 pm

it’s great to see Biden standing up for young voters and progressives. student debt relief was a key promise, and he’s fighting to keep it. let’s support him in this battle against GOP hypocrisy!

DebtWarrior23 July 1, 2023 - 10:50 pm

i’m skeptical about the new student debt relief plan. will it actually survive legal challenges? we’ve been let down before. let’s hope it’s not just empty promises.

EducationEnthusiast July 1, 2023 - 11:37 pm

kudos to Biden for trying to find a way around the Supreme Court ruling. the Higher Education Act might just be the key. let’s hope it provides the relief that borrowers desperately need.

Lizzie_girl July 2, 2023 - 12:42 pm

can’t believe the supreme court ruled against biden’s original effort. what a bummer for all those who were hoping for debt cancellation. fingers crossed the new plan actually works.


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