President Joe Biden Offers New Student Debt Relief Plan and Lashes Out at Republicans after Supreme Court Ruling

President Joe Biden vowed on Friday to push forward with a new plan that provides loan relief for millions of borrowers while blaming the GOP “hypocrisy” for triggering the day’s Supreme Court decision that wiped out the original effort.

The president said his administration had already begun working under the authority of the 1965 Higher Education Act, which he said was “the best path that remains to provide as many borrowers as possible with debt relief.”

In the meantime, loan payment requirements are scheduled to resume in the fall. The White House said it would be creating an “on-ramp” to repayment and implementing ways to ease the threat to borrowers of default if they fall behind over the next year. 

The president maintained that the new programs would take longer than his initial effort to ease debt from student loans.

While speaking to reporters at the White House, President Biden said borrowers who are now angry about the high court’s decision should blame the GOP. The president is trying to remain on the political offensive even while the ruling undermined a crucial promise to young voters vital to his 2024 reelection campaign. 

“These Republican officials just couldn’t bear the thought of providing relief for working-class, middle-class Americans,” said Biden. “The hypocrisy of Republican elected officials is stunning.”

Biden firmly placed opposition to student loan forgiveness on the Republicans who could allow Biden’s reelection campaign to maintain the issue as one of strength during the time leading up to the election. However, Biden’s continuing opposition may ultimately offer little solace to 43 million Americans who benefitted from the initial program and will now have to wait for a replacement for the plan to take shape.

“We do not want to go into excruciating debt for our entire lives to enhance our education,” said Voters of Tomorrow in a statement. The organization promotes the power of young Americans.

A May poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 43% of adults in the U.S. approve of how the president sought to handle student debt. The percentage is similar to his overall approval rating of 40%.

The polls suggested Biden gets credit for handling the issue among young adults. Fifty-three percent of adults under the age of 30 said they approved of the president’s handling of student debt when compared with only 36% who approved of his overall job performance.

Senior Biden administration officials said the president’s top advisers had frequently met recently to prepare for a high court ruling on student loans. They also spoke with allies and advocates in Congress. After the decision on Friday, Biden met with top advisers and ordered them to begin implementing a new loan plan immediately.

The White House argues that its new efforts will survive future legal challenges, even with the 6-3 Supreme Court conservative majority. 

President Biden bristled at suggestions his efforts to ease the burden of student loans raised the hopes of borrowers unnecessarily.

“I didn’t give any false hope,” said Biden. “The Republicans snatched away the hope that they were given.”

Political stakes are exceptionally high since progressive Congressional Democrats and activists have been clamoring for the administration to offer an alternative to President Biden’s original student loan plan for months while fearing that the Supreme Court would ultimately move to block the initial efforts by the president. 

Details of any new loan forgiveness plans will be negotiated through federal rulemaking processes

Details of any new loan forgiveness will be negotiated through a federal rulemaking process that the administration launched on Friday. The process allows the Department of Education to write or change federal regulations with the weight of the law.

However, there is no guarantee the plan could survive another legal challenge.

The Higher Education Act has been used to cancel student debt, but not on this large 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. 

Republicans have long countered that repaying student loans is an issue of fairness, with many leading Republicans celebrating Friday’s ruling. Betsy DeVos, who served as education secretary under President Donald Trump, called the president’s original plan “deeply unfair to the majority of Americans who don’t have student loans.”

Republicans who are now seeking their party’s 2024 presidential nomination lined up to applaud the court’s decision, with former Vice President Mike Pence saying he was “pleased that the court struck down the radical left’s effort to use the money of taxpayers who played by the rules and repaid their debts in order to cancel the debt of bankers and lawyers in New York, San Francisco, and Washington.”

While addressing the Moms for Liberty conference in Philadelphia Friday, former President Trump slammed Biden’s efforts on student loans as “a way of trying to buy votes, that’s all it was.” Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina, said the Supreme Court was “right to throw out Joe Biden’s power grab.”

After the president announced his response, some in the GOP were equally quick to reject it. 

“Taxpayers just got sucker punched — again — by this administration,” said North Carolina Republican Representative Virginia Foxx. “Today, President Biden announced that taxpayers will be forced to pay for the costliest regulation in our nation’s history.”