President Biden’s announcement that his administration would eliminate up to $20,000 in student debt is one of the boldest executive power grabs in modern history. Yes, he ranks up there with Donald Trump’s idiotic reasoning to reallocate funds to military projects due to the “emergency” at the border. Biden’s hysterical legal justification? The Department of Education has the legal authority under the HEROES Act of 2003 to eliminate college debt in an emergency. The emergency? COVID. An “emergency” only exists because Biden continues to extend the state of emergency that Trump declared in March 2020.
Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed, The HEROES Act. The student debt forgiveness centered on serving members of the military who enlisted after the September 11 attacks. The idea that a law intended to ease the financial burden of those who enlist and may have to fight in a war could be used almost 20 years later for a crude political ploy to increase voter turnout in elections midterm is cynical and grotesque.
With this caveat, it is not outrageous to think that all debt relief is out of the question. After all, the federal government got involved in the student loan process in 1965, but upped the ante in 1979 when it started deferring payments. You see, as long as you were still in school and running up debt, that was no problem. After all, with a degree in hand, one wouldn’t just have a job, but starting a career and paying off the loan would be the easy part, right? Not so.
Banks and lenders were more than happy to give the money to the students. After all, the loans were secured. If a student didn’t pay, ultimately the government would cover the rest. When this happened, states opted to reduce per-student funding, and the share of tuition in college revenue increased. The increased demand for a college education has also increased the cost. When the culture changed and society began to look down on skilled workers (this was it – in film and TV, plumbers were often portrayed as clumsy idiots who couldn’t do anything right when their skills could earning them six figures a year) and pointed out that college was the only way to get ahead, people who didn’t belong in college went anyway. For several decades, as enrollment grew in the CUNY system in New York, more and more students were required to take remedial classes in math and English – 80% of new students. It is not surprising that almost 40% of those who enroll in a bachelor’s degree program do not graduate.
There is also the matter of the growth of administrators in colleges and universities which has exploded over the past 30 years without explanation. Here is an article from 2021 Yale News:
Over the past two decades, the number of executives and professionals employed by Yale has grown three times faster than the number of undergraduate students, according to the University’s financial reports. The group’s 44.7% expansion since 2003 has had adverse effects on faculty, students and tuition, according to eight faculty members.
In 2003, while 5,307 undergraduate students studied on campus, the University employed 3,500 administrators and managers. In 2019, before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on student enrollment, only 600 more students lived and studied at Yale, but the number of administrators had increased by more than 1,500, an increase of almost by 45%. In 2018, The Chronicle of Higher Education revealed that Yale had the highest principal-to-student ratio of any Ivy League university and the fifth highest in the nation among private four-year colleges.
This trajectory is similar across the country.
This is part of why Joe Biden’s new order is so reckless.
- This adds at least $500 billion to the debt.
- The onus is on those who have never been to college to pay for the relief.
- If he survives a legal challenge, any Democratic presidential candidate can dangle him in front of voters.
- Lenders will start withdrawing if they know the “collateral” is no longer valid.
More importantly, it does nothing to address the underlying problem. Democrats dating back to Bill Clinton in 1992 have campaigned heavily on the idea of making college “more affordable”. It didn’t work that way. Not even close. According Visual Capitalist:
The average cost of earning a college degree has skyrocketed relative to overall inflation over the past few decades.
Since 1980, tuition and university fees have increased 1200%while the consumer price index (CPI) for all items rose only 236%.
It’s crazy. And Congress will do nothing about it.
A year ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Biden does not have the power to cancel student debt. “The president can’t do it. So it’s not even a discussion. Not everyone realizes this. But the president can only postpone, delay, but not forgive. Five days ago? “Well, we’re excited about the president because we didn’t know what – what authority the president had to do this. And now, clearly, it looks like he has the power to do this.
I’m glad she clarified that.
Democrats don’t want to come close to the problem because any reform means progressives — those who think everything should be free and the rich should pay for it — will never agree. Republicans, rather than offering legislative solutions, will use the issue to further air their grievances.
However, Congress provoked it. Therefore, only Congress can solve the problem.
I won’t hold my breath.