Biden's Student Debt Cancellation Plan


President Joe Biden's pursuit of a student debt cancellation plan faced a setback when the Supreme Court ruled against the administration's initial scheme.

Biden's Student Debt Cancellation Plan: A Potential Messaging Opportunity for Democrats in the 2024 Election

Introduction: President Joe Biden's pursuit of a student debt cancellation plan faced a setback when the Supreme Court ruled against the administration's initial scheme. However, Biden has now pledged to pursue a similar effort using a different law as the authority, presenting a potential messaging opportunity for Democrats in the upcoming 2024 election. This article examines the new plan, the reaction from Republicans, the legal risks involved, and the potential implications for Democratic campaigning.

The Basis for the New Plan: The Biden administration's new attempt to cancel student debt relies on the Higher Education Act of 1965. This law grants the secretary of education the power to compromise, waive, or release any right, claim, or demand, including any equity or right of redemption. The initial plan, based on the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003, was deemed to require an explicit act of Congress by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Timing and Election Considerations: With the 2024 election on the horizon, the Biden administration's new plan will undergo a monthslong rule-making process, delaying its enactment. Republicans, including prominent figures such as Senator Bill Cassidy and Representative Virginia Foxx, have condemned the new plan, criticizing the transfer of debt from borrowers to taxpayers.

Legal Risks and Democratic Messaging: According to experts, the second attempt to cancel student debt carries legal risks. The challenge lies in finding the balance between a regulation that can pass judicial review and a more expansive proposal that may face defeat in court. Democrats have the opportunity to utilize this issue as a talking point during the election, focusing on defending the regulation in court and attracting votes.

Deadlines and Scrutiny: For the new plan to become effective before the 2024 election, a new rule must be established by either November 1, 2023, or November 1, 2024. Both dates would limit the courts' ability to scrutinize the plan before Election Day. Republicans may challenge the regulations, but the timing of the rule could also benefit Democrats, who could campaign as the "debt-cutting president" if the plan becomes effective in July 2025.

Republican Response and Messaging Opportunities: Republicans could capitalize on the issue of student loan forgiveness if they effectively communicate the perceived injustice of burdening taxpayers and those who did not attend college. Messaging around the notion that loan forgiveness is unfair to individuals who earned scholarships or have already paid off their debt could resonate with citizens who value a sense of justice.

Conclusion: President Biden's new student debt cancellation plan presents Democrats with a messaging opportunity in the 2024 election. While legal risks and Republican opposition persist, the potential to defend the regulation in court and campaign as the party that tackles student debt may be enticing for Democratic candidates. As the plan undergoes further developments, its impact on the election landscape remains to be seen.

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