House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and former Trump Secretary of Education Betsy Devos no longer seem to agree on the topic of student loan cancellation, now that President Joe Biden has come out with a plan to cancel up to $20k in debt per borrower.
Previously, Pelosi had clearly stated, “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”
“The president can’t do it,” she added. “So that’s not even a discussion. Not everybody realizes that, but the president can only postpone, delay, but not forgive.”
REMINDER: Biden doesn't have the authority to forgive student loan debt. Even Speaker Pelosi agrees.
PELOSI: "People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not… The President can’t do it. So that’s not even a discussion." pic.twitter.com/E1AH0YxTFZ
— Senate Republican Communications Center (@SRCC) August 24, 2022
In mid-June, DeVos also asserted that Biden does not have the power to unilaterally “forgive” student loans. She told The Daily Signal, “I’m hopeful they follow the law, and they don’t do it. We have demonstrated; we left a very detailed memo talking about how the president does not have unilateral power to forgive student loan debt.”
DeVos noted that the Obama administration “also took this position as well.”
“When we talk about this notion of forgiving student loans, what we’re really talking about is benefiting those who don’t necessarily need it,” she commented. “And the ones who are going to be ultimately paying for it are those who’ve never attended college, who didn’t take out student loans, taxpayers who chose not to go to higher education and take out student loans, or frankly, many taxpayers who have gone, who have faithfully paid off their student loans. And then think about also veterans earn their benefits for education by serving our country.”
But on Wednesday, as Biden indicated he would proceed with his plan to “forgive” student loans, Pelosi seemingly reversed herself, tweeting Biden’s “bold action is a strong step in Democrats’ fight to expand access to higher education. By delivering historic targeted student debt relief to millions of borrowers, more working families will be able to meet their kitchen table needs as they recover from the pandemic.”
.@POTUS’ bold action is a strong step in Democrats’ fight to expand access to higher education.
By delivering historic targeted student debt relief to millions of borrowers, more working families will be able to meet their kitchen table needs as they recover from the pandemic. https://t.co/nHkBLNvqeG
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 24, 2022
In January 2021, the principal deputy general counsel for the Department of Education, Reed Rubenstein, clearly stated the president has no power to unilaterally “forgive” student loans, noting, “Given the HEA’s many specific provisions for cancellation, compromise, discharge, or forgiveness of student loan principal balances and/or material modifications to the repayment amounts or terms thereof, we believe any Executive Branch action on a blanket or mass basis, whether under 20 U.S.C. § 1082(a)(6), the HEROES Act, or otherwise, wrongfully transforms carefully cabined HEA settlement authority into a general administrative dispensing power.”
As Charles C. W. Cooke noted in National Review, “At the level of the electorate, it would represent a middle finger to voters without college degrees, who have much higher unemployment rates than voters with college educations, and who will now be on the hook for loans they didn’t take out and didn’t benefit from. It would represent a middle finger to voters who chose not to go college — voters who will, as Nancy Pelosi has put it, be ‘paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations.’”
“Because of the enormous backlash it will cause, it would represent a middle finger to the people at the bottom of our society, who genuinely need help with their education, and who will now be lumped in with the cadre of affluent, self-serving deadbeats who have apparently convinced the President of the United States to violate his oath of office in order to funnel them a bunch of cash,” he concluded.