'Keep borrowers in debt': Republicans plotting legal challenges to Biden’s student debt relief plan

'Keep borrowers in debt': Republicans plotting legal challenges to Biden’s student debt relief plan
Image via Creative Commons.

Although some progressives believe that President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel some student loan debt doesn’t go far enough, a long list of Republicans — from U.S. senators to right-wing think tanks to state attorneys general — have accused the president of overreaching and are looking for ways to undermine Biden’s plan. The National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke is even calling for Congress to “impeach and convict President Biden.”

Student loan debt has become a major problem in the United States, where it isn’t uncommon for students to graduate from college with six-figure debts that they will spend decades paying off with interest. This debt affects a variety of decisions that college graduates make as young adults, from deciding whether or not to have kids to being able to buy a house. Some older Baby Boomers, according to common complaints from Millennials and members of Generation Z, fail to comprehend the severity of the problem — as they graduated from college at a time when tuition was much more affordable than it is now.

Journalists Tony Romm, Jeff Stein and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel take a look at GOP reactions to Biden’s student loan debt plan in an article published by the Washington Post on September 1, stressing that some of those Republicans are considering lawsuits.

READ MORE: Joe Biden could have gone much further on student loans

“Republican state attorneys general and other leading conservatives are quietly exploring a slew of potential lawsuits targeting President Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt — challenges that could limit or invalidate the policy before it takes full effect,” the Post reporters explain. “In recent days, a number of GOP attorneys general from states including Arizona, Missouri and Texas have met privately to discuss a strategy that could see multiple cases filed in different courts around the country, according to a person familiar with their thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the confidential talks.”

Romm, Stein and Douglas-Gabriel continue, “Other influential conservatives — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and allies of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank — are mulling their own options as they ratchet up criticism of Biden’s debt-relief plan, two additional people familiar with the matter said. And a conservative advocacy group founded by a major Trump donor said it would file a lawsuit against the policy.”

The Post interviewed John Malcolm, who serves as director of the Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center. The Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973, has been around 49 years — and its Meese Center was named after Edwin Meese, who served as U.S. attorney general during President Ronald Reagan’s second term and is now 90.

Malcolm told the Post, “The conservative public interest law firms in our network are exploring filing lawsuits against this. They are doing background legal research, trying to find out who might be the most suitable clients for them. They have to find a client with the standing and the gumption to take on a lawsuit. There are several groups in our network who are exploring that right now.”

READ MORE: 'For whom and why?' is the real question behind student loan forgiveness

Biden’s plan would forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt, or as much as $20,000 if the former student also received Pell Grants. Some liberals and progressives were hoping to see larger amounts of student loan debt forgiven, but the centrist Biden believes that $10,000 or $20,000 is a step in the right direction.

The Post interviewed some former college students who have a lot of student loan debt, and they were appalled that Republicans oppose even the modest amounts that Biden favors.

One of those interviewees was 31-year-old Ohio resident Michael Loomus, who dropped out of the University of Toledo and has been struggling to pay down the $11,400 that he owes. Loomus told the Post, “It just seems they are continuously trying to keep borrowers in debt. I don’t make a lot of money.… and before this, it just felt like I’d never pay off my loans.”

READ MORE: 'We should be proud': Education secretary explains why student loan forgiveness is an 'investment'

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