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States file suit to block Bidens student debt forgiveness plan

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(The Center Square) – A coalition of states has filed a legal challenge to President Joe Biden’s latest executive effort to forgive a portion of Americans’ student loan debt.

The lawsuit comes after Biden on Monday announced the plan, which the states in question say is an overreach of executive authority. The White House claims that Biden has so far canceled at least some of the debt for 4 million Americans, totalling $146 billion so far.

The White House said the newest effort would partially forgive debt for 30 million Americans, though independent analyses have not confirmed that figure.

“With the stroke of his pen, Joe Biden is attempting to saddle working Missourians with a half trillion dollars in college debt,” Missouri Attorney General Bailey, who is helping lead the legal challenge, said in a statement. “The United States Constitution makes clear that the President lacks the authority to unilaterally ‘cancel’ student loan debt for millions of Americans without express permission from Congress. The President does not get to thwart the Constitution when it suits his political agenda.”

The lawsuit points out that Biden already tried once before to forgive large swaths of student debt but that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that effort last June.

“Just last year, the Supreme Court struck down an attempt by the President to force teachers, truckers, and farmers to pay for the student loan debt of other Americans — to the enormous tune of $430 billion,” the lawsuit said. “In striking down that attempt, the Court declared that the President cannot ‘unilaterally alter large sections of the American economy.’ Undeterred, the President is at it again, even bragging that ‘the Supreme Court blocked it. They blocked it. But that didn’t stop me.’”

There is no official cost estimate yet for the plan, but experts raised concerns about the already ballooned national debt, which is on pace to hit $35 trillion this year.

“You can’t solve a very real debt problem by issuing more debt,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement. “The President’s previous student loan cancellation plan was expensive, inflationary, poorly targeted, and would have boosted rather than reduced tuitions. This plan similarly misses the mark.”

Critics point out that debt is not “forgiven” or “canceled,” but that the expense is transferred to taxpayers.

“This is nothing but a political ploy to buy votes in an election year,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The Supreme Court already ruled that Joe Biden’s student loan scheme is ILLEGAL. This is not loan forgiveness – it’s debt redistribution.”

The debt forgiveness in question will be enacted through a proposed federal rule, which means it has a lengthy process ahead and could be overturned if Republicans win in November.

The plan would cancel as much as $20,000 in interest for borrowers whose interest on unpaid debt has continued to grow over time, regardless of income. The plan would help those with undergraduate debt who have been paying for more than 20 years and graduate debt paid for more than 25 years.

Those major components come alongside several other miscellaneous forgiveness efforts tailored to specific federal programs Biden has been announcing since taking office.

Biden argued during remarks in Madison, Wisconsin Monday afternoon that for many Americans, their debt is too great a burden.

“Today, too many Americans, especially young people, are saddled with unsustainable debts in exchange for a college degree,” Biden said. “The ability for working- and middle-class folks to repay their student loans has become so burdensome that a lot can’t repay it for even decades after being in school.”

Even before the lawsuit, Biden’s plan to forgive even more student loan debt was taking fire from Republicans and budget experts.

“By ‘cancelling student loan debt,’ Joe Biden is telling blue-collar workers he doesn’t care about them,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wrote on X, formerly known as twitter. “This is nothing but a vote-buying scheme by the Democrats.”

Signing onto the lawsuit are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

“This plan completely violates the administrative pay-as-you-go requirement put in place by last summer’s Fiscal Responsibility Act,” MacGuineas said. “That provision was put in place to require any significant regulations from adding to deficits, but the administration has abused its ability to waive these requirements – which is intended only for regulations that are ‘necessary for the delivery of essential services’ or ‘necessary for effective program delivery."”