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ALEC on John Reid Radio Show: President Ought to Focus on Reducing the Cost of Higher Education

The President really needs to be focusing his time and attention on fixing this cost problem in higher education. It affects everyone.

ALEC Education and Workforce Development Task Force Director Andrew Handel joined host John Reid on Newsradio WRVA in Richmond, Va. this week to talk about President Joe Biden’s forgiveness of billions of dollars in student loan debt. Below are hightlights of the conversation:

John Reid: I’m looking through the Constitution I bought for like $4.  It’s very nice copy of the Constitution and I don’t see the magic wand or provision in here where the President of the United States just can  wipe away debt. I’m just puzzled by this. I’m very puzzled that everyone in Washington seems to be okay with the idea of authorizing the president, Republican or Democrat, to make decisions like this.  These people just don’t want to pay their own bills. I’m tired of it. I’m not paying their bills. Andrew, what was your take on this?

Andrew Handel: It’s amazing how we went from a year ago when President Biden and even Speaker Pelosi both saying the President does not have the authority to cancel student loan debt. Now here we are just a few months  from November  and perhaps not coincidentally, suddenly, he appears to have found the authority. He pulled in out of thin air.

John Reid: Will this be litigated by individual citizens will or will there be someone who stands up in the Congress? Maybe even in his own party someone will say, “Mr. President, you are making this up. You don’t have this authority, and we got to stop you here.”

Andrew Handel: I would be shocked if there wasn’t a court case filed. The Supreme Court has been pretty clear over the years when it comes to a major regulatory decision like this that has huge financial and political ramifications. The Court has stated that unless Congress explicitly gave the agency the authority to do that, they can’t do it. Congress will often defer to agencies to kind of administer these programs. So in the case of student loan debt, the Department of Education obviously is given general authority but nowhere in statute or the Constitution, did Congress give the agency the ability to simply cancel all these loans.

John Reid:  I’ve been tracking ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, for a long time from back when I worked on Capitol Hill. I often got briefings, written and otherwise from you all, that I thought were informative. Is it correct that if you add all of this up, we’re talking about almost a trillion dollars?

Andrew Handel: I think what we’re talking about is close to half-a-trillion dollars when it’s all said and done. The amazing thing here is 87% of Americans do not have any student loan debt. It’s just 13% of Americans have that have this debt. And then of course, these are all individuals who went to college and so they should be making more money than their peers as a result of that. The President really needs to be focusing his time and attention on fixing this cost problem in higher education. It affects everyone. Ultimately, the federal government subsidization of the market for student loans is really what’s driven the price is so high, because the reality is virtually anyone who fills out a student financial aid application is likely going to be eligible for some kind of a student loan.  Doesn’t this just incentivizes colleges to raise their prices?

Andrew was also featured on talking about President Biden’s student loan forgiveness action:

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