Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is not law. Why did he say it was?

During a weekend interview with the progressive group NowThis News, President Joe Biden made the startling claim that he had “signed legislation” to cancel student debt.

After giving some details about what the “law” would offer 40 million Americans, he also said, “It’s passed. I got it passed by a vote or two, and it’s in effect.

Wow.

Let’s break this statement down. Biden — on his own through executive action — announced sweeping debt relief in August. It was absolutely not passed by Congress, nor was it signed into law.

However, he should have gone through the legislative process, and Biden must know that, having served for decades in the Senate.

Congress controls the stock market and serves as a check on the executive branch. Yet Biden had no problem unilaterally legislating this “pardon,” which will cost taxpayers at least $500 billion.

And student loan debt doesn’t magically disappear. It will become a burden for all Americans to bear and add to our growing national debt. With inflation already very high, it’s also a terrible time to inject more cash into the economy.

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Where is the outrage?

Let’s go back to what the president said. Imagine if former President Donald Trump had tried to pledge to Congress a controversial executive branch action he took. I guarantee you that widespread outrage would have followed.

That didn’t happen with the Biden lie, outside of initial conservative media attention.

The timing is particularly embarrassing for the president, as his administration battles multiple lawsuits arguing that executive action on the loans is unconstitutional. On Friday, an appeals court granted six states a stay, which suspends loan forgiveness for the time being.

The lawsuits reveal the flaws in the plans:Biden’s on-the-fly approach to canceling student loans creates a huge mess

The Biden administration said that as of Friday, 22 million borrowers had asked for forgiveness (who doesn’t like “free” stuff?). The administration has encouraged people to keep applying, despite legal wrangling.

Asked about Biden’s latest gaffe, the White House clumsily claimed that the president was talking about the passage this summer of the Cut Inflation Act, which offered “savings” for the bailout of student loans.

Yes indeed.

Does Biden make these decisions?

Biden is no stranger to these kinds of gaffes, but they seem to be happening more frequently. In recent weeks he has struggled mightily to say large numbers. At a September event, he called the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, who had died the previous month in a car crash.

And now, confusing an executive action that Biden himself made with an act of Congress is a huge deal, and it should not be taken lightly.

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Biden is largely getting a media pass on many of these blunders, far more than Trump ever has. But just because Biden may seem “nicer” and more sincere than the former president, that’s no good reason to overlook these egregious incidents.

Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY columnist

It also raises questions about Biden’s mental acuity. I don’t blame him for getting old – he’ll be 80 next month.

But if Biden doesn’t remember taking such drastic executive action, I wonder: If he doesn’t make those decisions, who does?

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist for USA TODAY. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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