There’s a long list of reasons why the the Biden administration’s scheme to write off upward of $20,000 per person in student loan debt, announced Aug. 24, is a terrible and corrupt idea:
- It’s flagrantly illegal and usurps powers reserved for Congress, which even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged a year ago.
- It’s unfair, especially to people who paid back their loans or carefully avoided such debts.
- It’s bad for the economy and the nation’s finances, especially at a time of high inflation and a labor shortage.
- It’s a blatant, desperate ploy to boost turnout prior to the November midterm elections.
- It’s a corrupt financial windfall for those who work around the levers of power in Washington, D.C., since top political staffers tend to have high-priced credentials.
The profoundly radical nature of the handout is emblematic of a worrisome trend that was visible shortly after President Joe Biden entered the White House a little more than 19 months ago.
During the opening months of the 2020 presidential primaries, Biden was broadly referred to as a “moderate” alternative to the likes of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who curried favor with the hard left.
The early polling success of Warren and Sanders led Biden to move left during the Democratic primaries on issues such as dealing with student loan debt, but the media’s conventional wisdom still placed Biden closer to the center.
We can now see how false that “wisdom” proved to be.
The Biden administration quickly followed up by proposing a second multitrillion-dollar tax-and-spend boondoggle. While some elements fell away, Congress ended up passing much of that boondoggle over the course of multiple bills.
Yet even a multitrillion-dollar spending spree wasn’t enough to satisfy the administration’s appetite, leading to the announcement of the student loan bailout.
Perhaps the most absurd White House talking point in defense of the scheme involves claiming that it’s OK to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the federal debt with loan write-offs because this year’s deficit isn’t as high as last year’s.
For comparison, imagine if your family got a new house with a hefty mortgage. Would you be justified in buying a Lamborghini the following year just because you didn’t buy another house? Yet, this is exactly the sort of flawed reasoning on display from the highest office in the land.
It should go without saying that federal finances were already in bad shape before the COVID-19 pandemic and are now an absolute disaster. Prolonged overspending is a reason for Washington to spend less, not an excuse to spend more.
Tellingly, one of the staffers peddling the whopper about it being OK to add to the deficit was Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council. Before joining the administration, he was the head of economic policy for Warren’s presidential campaign.
A recent Washington Post article detailed how Ramamurti and other former Warren staffers have obtained positions of influence in the Biden administration and are thus helping to steer economic policy.
As we know, personnel is policy, since the staffers a president chooses will have significant influence over the administration’s agenda. Biden has access to the best and brightest in the country, yet he chose to embrace many on the far left and to follow their policy advice.
That’s a problematic development.
As such, it will be vitally important for defenders of America’s founding principles to use a variety of methods to block the administration’s power grabs.
For Congress, that will mean conducting oversight investigations and hearings to shine a spotlight on abuses of power and using the power of the purse to regain control over executive branch agencies.
The Heritage Foundation (of which The Daily Signal is the news outlet) is also leading the charge against executive overreach with two initiatives.
Heritage is executing a strategy to fight the administrative state by coordinating responses across the conservative movement and filing official comments on regulatory actions.
Its Oversight Project was launched in January for the purpose of conducting investigations and using Freedom of Information Act requests, at times in conjunction with conservative legislators at all levels of government.
The legal system can also provide a check on abuses of power. The Supreme Court has prevented executive overreach in areas such as anti-energy regulations and power grabs disguised as “public health” measures. That requires parties such as Congress, state governments, and public interest organizations to step forward and challenge the administration.
It will take a tremendous amount of effort over the coming years to stop the Biden administration from implementing blatantly corrupt policies such as student loan “forgiveness.”
The alternative—unchecked executive action—could permanently damage America’s core institutions and the health of our democracy.
We simply can’t allow that to happen.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal