President Joe Biden announced plans in late August to belatedly fulfill a campaign promise to his progressive base to “cancel” up to $10,000-20,000 of outstanding federal student loan debt for most borrowers.
That move hasn’t sat well with 22 Republican state governors, though, who sent a letter to President Biden on Monday that urged him to reconsider and withdraw those plans “immediately,” The Hill reported.
The group of governors argued that Biden’s plan was unfair as it would result in poor working-class Americans who never even went to college paying for the debts incurred by wealthy high-income individuals with graduate degrees.
Shifting the debt burden
“As governors, we support making higher education more affordable and accessible for students in our states,” the group of governors, led by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), wrote in the letter, “but we fundamentally oppose your plan to force American taxpayers to pay off the student loan debt of an elite few — a plan that is estimated to cost the American taxpayer more than $2,000 each or $600 billion total, a price the people of our states cannot afford.”
The GOP governors noted that only around one-sixth of all Americans actually had federal student loan debt, “and yet, your plan will require their debts be redistributed and paid by the vast majority of taxpayers. Shifting the burden of debt from the wealthy to working Americans has a regressive impact that harms lower income families.”
“Borrowers with the most debt, such as $50,000 or more, almost exclusively have graduate degrees, meaning hourly workers will pay off the master’s and doctorate degrees of high salaried lawyers, doctors, and professors,” they continued. “Simply put, your plan rewards the rich and punishes the poor.”
Biden lacks authority
The governors argued that those with student loan debt had incurred it willingly and should be responsible for paying off their own obligations, as countless others have before now, and highlighted how especially unfair Biden’s plan was for those who never even went to college, as “Americans who did not choose to take out student loans themselves should certainly not be forced to pay for the student loans of others.”
It was further argued that Biden’s plan was counterproductive in that it would perversely incentivize higher tuition and increase inflation at a time when that can be least afforded. The governors wrote, “Rather than addressing the rising cost of tuition for higher education or working to lower interest rates for student loans, your plan kicks the can down the road and makes today’s problems worse for tomorrow’s students.”
Finally, the governors observed that, “As president, you lack the authority to wield unilateral action to usher in a sweeping student loan cancellation plan, a position shared by leaders of your party,” and shared a quote from none other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to that effect.
In a July 2021 press conference, Pelosi told reporters, “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”
Plan should be withdrawn
In conclusion, the Republican governors wrote, “For these reasons and more, we call on you to withdraw your student loan plan immediately.”
It seems unlikely that President Biden will risk the furious backlash from his own far-left flank by withdrawing his ill-advised plan, so it will most likely have to be addressed by the next Republican-controlled Congress or be blocked by the federal courts, and in that respect, though nothing has been filed yet, The Washington Post reported recently that conservative groups and GOP attorneys general are preparing multiple suits.