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EDITORIAL: Student loan amnesty an affront to taxpayers

Barack Obama famously wielded his phone and pen to skirt checks on his authority and expand executive branch power. Now Democrats are pushing Joe Biden to do the same.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that, if Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Mr. Biden may make liberal use of executive orders to accomplish what he can’t get through Congress. One of his objectives is to unilaterally wipe out billions of dollars in outstanding student loan debt, which now stands at $1.55 trillion.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already urged Mr. Biden to do precisely that once he takes office.

During the campaign, Mr. Biden advocated that taxpayers forgive $10,000 in student debt for every American holding higher education loans. He also said he would wipe out student loan debt for any worker earning under $125,000, the Journal noted. Supporters offer the pandemic as justification for this amnesty scheme, but that’s simply a convenient cover. Democrats were agitating for this massive handout long before COVID-19 entered the lexicon.

Republicans have so far refused to go along — and with good reason. The Biden plan — which would be an expensive sop to the wealthy at the expense of those who never went to college — treats parents and students who scrimped and sacrificed to cover tuition or scrupulously made good on their financial obligations as suckers and fools. Where do these unfortunate pigeons go to get their free money? Yes, there are legitimate cases of hardship, but a blanket policy of loan forgiveness highlights how Democrats have completely abandoned the concept of personal responsibility.

In addition, the Biden plan is woefully lacking in long-term vision. Those who argue for student loan forgiveness often go mum when confronted with the obvious question: And then what? Does the federal government just reset the calculator and continue to engage in the same failed policies that created this mess in the first place until we’ve come full circle? What’s that they say about the definition of insanity?

“I do expect that the Biden administration will take some action on student debt outside of anything that happens in Congress,” a former Obama administration Education Department official told the Journal. “The question is how far they will go.”

Republicans should meet any unilateral move by a Biden administration on student loan forgiveness with a legal challenge. In addition, they must demand that any loan amnesty program be tied to reforms intended to ensure that American taxpayers are no longer yoked to mountains of bad debt and that colleges and universities cease using generous federal student aid programs as a vehicle to jack up tuition and fees.

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