President Joe Biden appeared to inadvertently sabotage on Sunday the legal justification for his student loan forgiveness plan.
What did Biden say?
Speaking in a “60 Minutes” interview, host Scott Pelley asked Biden whether the pandemic is “over” considering he attended the Detroit Auto Show last week, the event’s first occurrence since 2019.
In response, Biden declared without exception that the pandemic is “over.”
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it,” the president said.
“But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape,” he continued. “And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it.”
President Joe Biden: The 2022 60 Minutes Interview
What are the implications of his admission?
Last month, Biden announced his student loan forgiveness plan will cancel $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower who annually earns $125,000 or less and $20,000 of debt per Pell Grant recipient.
On the same day as the announcement, the Biden administration released the legal justification for the Biden’s plan. A memo released by the Education Department claimed a post-9/11 law, known as the HEROES Act of 2003, authorized broad and sweeping debt cancelation.
That memo read:
The HEROES Act, first enacted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, provides the Secretary
broad authority to grant relief from student loan requirements during specific periods (a war,
other military operation, or national emergency, such as the present COVID-19 pandemic) and
for specific purposes (including to address the financial harms of such a war, other military
operation, or emergency).
The Secretary of Education has used this authority, under both this and every prior administration since the Act’s passage, to provide relief to borrowers in connection with a war, other military operation, or national emergency, including the ongoing moratorium on student loan payments and interest.
Questions of legality aside, Charles Cooke at National Review explained the implications of Biden’s admission.
“But, even if one were to ignore all [of the questions of legality], one could still not get past the fact that the powers to which Biden laid claim can be applied only when there is an active emergency, and that the active emergency Biden is citing has now passed,” Cooke wrote.
For what it’s worth, the Biden administration is expected to formally extend the COVID national emergency in mid-October.