Abrams: Debt relief applicants not warned of legal fight

Dan Abrams Live

(NewsNation) — When President Joe Biden announced sweeping plans to cancel student debt in August, it was immediately celebrated by many progressives. But I expressed doubts about whether it would survive the courts. I was concerned that the administration was offering false hope to millions. Those concerns about the order not surviving legal scrutiny were even mocked by administration officials.

But now, the Biden administration has announced it would stop accepting student loan forgiveness applications. This comes after a federal judge ruled against the order Thursday, and Monday an appeals court upheld that decision — just as I had predicted.

Yet, this is the sort of unequivocal commentary that Biden offered Nov. 3 about the program:

“This is a game changer for so many people. We’re hearing from people all over the country about how easy it is to apply. Close to 26 million Americans have already applied, already given us information to consider. So they consider it life changing for their … families and for them,” Biden said.

Now, the website that previously allowed the student loan application process shows a message titled: “Student Loan Debt Relief Is Blocked.”

The message continues: “Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program. As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders.”

The site goes on to say the administration will fight in court for the program, and the department will hold the applications of the millions of borrowers who already applied for the relief.

Now, this comes after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay Monday preventing the Biden administration from moving ahead with forgiving hundreds of billions of dollars of federal student loans.

More than 26 million people have applied for relief.

My prediction on this show that this would happen is not because I’m any kind of sage. It’s just because I was following the specifics of how this all went down. It was via an executive order, not through the passing of any law.

Biden’s plan is based on the Heroes Act, which was passed in 2003 for veterans fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 terror attacks. It allowed for the Education Secretary to waive debt obligations in times of war. The White House is claiming that the national emergency is the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a serious reach.

I mean, many constitutional experts did not think a piece of legislation designed for times when the nation is at war applies to a now-fading pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been dismissive of those, like me, expressing concerns about the legal issues.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona reacted late last week saying, “We’re disappointed in the decision of the Texas court to block loan relief moving forward amidst efforts to block our debt relief program. We’re not standing down.”

Not standing down is much more measured than what he said just a few weeks ago.

“We promise to fight to protect you from baseless lawsuits trying to stop us from providing you debt relief. We will not stop fighting for you,” Cardona said.

Whatever you think of these lawsuits, they aren’t baseless. And yet, that’s also how the White House press secretary is characterizing them during a press gaggle this weekend.

“But we’re confident that this baseless decision will be overturned. And when it is, we will quickly process relief for the millions who have already applied,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

They shouldn’t have been so confident. Look, I’ve made clear, I think that the $300 billion plus plan is unfair to many. I think for people who didn’t go to college to have to subsidize those who did is troubling, and many people who have already paid off their debts are frustrated, as well.

But my main concern is a legal one — how the Biden administration was trying to exploit a nearly 20-year-old wartime law to cover what was clearly an effort to meet a presidential campaign promise just in time for the midterms.

Now, this may very well end up before the Supreme Court and we shall see specifically on the question of who has what’s called the standing to sue, meaning who was actually harmed by the program.

But regardless, I feel for the millions who have now come to expect that the massive burden of college debt would soon be lifted. They may have already made plans for that money. They weren’t warned by the administration this was going to be a very tough legal fight. In fact, they were told just the opposite.

I fear that many have been misled by an administration focusing only on what they hoped would happen next, almost a campaign promise, and not the legal realities of it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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