After nearly two years of talking about it, Joe Biden finally rolled out his student-loan forgiveness plan … and apparently nothing else. According to Axios, the White House didn’t bother to gather the data on eligibility, didn’t create a system which would check it, and has no system yet in place to fully complete the process.
Did Biden drop the ball again — or did he never expect to be allowed to run with it in the first place?
The agency doesn’t have income data for most of the 43 million Americans eligible for forgiveness, meaning around 35 million people — including Pell Grant recipients — will have to attest that they makes less than $125,000 per year and apply for relief. …
StudentAid.gov, the government’s financial aid website, experienced significant delays Wednesday and Thursday after it was inundated with people seeking information on loan forgiveness.
The White House doesn’t know exactly how many eligible borrowers will actually end up applying for loan forgiveness — or how much it will cost.
The Education Department hasn’t yet released the website where people can apply for loan forgiveness by attesting that they meet the income requirement — and it’s still unclear when that will be released, a person familiar with the matter tells Axios.
Other than that, y’know … Biden was totes prepared to roll out this policy. I mean, why not wing it? The executive-order-driven policy will only cost between $605 billion and $1 trillion, most of which will land in this fiscal year while inflation’s already raging. No biggie!
More seriously, this looks like a lot of Joe Biden’s policymaking — impulsive, unprepared, and entirely reactive. Biden and his team have had seventeen months to get these pieces in place for this policy decision. Instead, it looks like someone just pulled together a few talking points at the last minute and bundled it into a memo for Biden to wave at a presser.
Just how lazy was the White House on this massive bailout proposal? Penn Wharton managed to pull its numbers together in just a couple of days after Biden’s specifics were made public. Biden’s team didn’t even bother to try scoring it themselves or providing any data. Instead, they pulled an initial rough estimate of $330 billion out of their nether regions, likely because it also roughly matched the deficit reduction from the Inflation Reduction Act that Biden signed a couple of weeks ago. As Axios reports, they still haven’t bothered to figure this out, and they let themselves get caught with their pants down on the true potential cost of Biden’s proposal and have other sources drive that number.
Which again prompts the question: did they expect that this would never get implemented? Even for dilettantes like Biden and his team, this is extraordinarily offhand and casual. The only rational explanation for the utter carelessness and casual abuse of power this represents — well, the only other rational explanation besides it being Biden’s standard operational procedure — is that it’s only meant as a political stunt for the midterms. The legal justification given for it is so absurd — an emergency measure for a pandemic that the White House just got done arguing at the Supreme Court is no emergency any longer — that it’s certain to get stopped by a federal court as long as plaintiffs with supportable standing emerge to challenge it.
Biden and his team have been stubbornly ignorant on similar disputes over executive authority in emergencies such as their eviction moratoria, so this fits a pattern. After that, though, even Biden has to know that the courts will block this for months if not entirely, without Congress’ approval on this level of spending. Maybe they’re counting on that, hoping to get a short-term boost to their political standing among progressives while wasting everyone else’s time in court … and ultimately stiffing the students who got stiffed by colleges and universities in Academia’s scam.
Or maybe Biden really is this stupidly authoritarian and incompetent. I’m not sure which is worse, but neither will help Biden politically in the long run.
Update: I added “trillion-dollar” to the headline for, ahem, clarity.