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Supreme Court’s Ruling on Student-Loan Forgiveness Draws Criticism from Biden

In a 6-3 ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court blocked Biden's student debt relief plan

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UNITED STATES: On Friday, President Joe Biden unveiled new initiatives to provide Americans with their student loans and criticised the U.S. Supreme Court for blocking a plan to eliminate a substantial amount of debt, which had garnered significant support from his voters.

Biden told correspondents that his administration would seek student loan relief through an alternate approach, the Higher Education Act, after being thwarted by the conservative-leaning court. The Education Department has begun a months-long regulatory “rulemaking” procedure.

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In a 6-3 ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s plan to eliminate $430 billion in student loan debt. Republicans welcomed the ruling, as it posed a threat to a significant part of the Democratic president’s policy agenda.

In response to the court’s decision, President Biden expressed his determination to find an alternative avenue to achieve his goal.

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Speaking to reporters, he stated, “Today’s decision has closed one path. Now we’re going to start another.”

The US President went on to say that he believes the court’s decision to overturn the student loan relief programme was a mistake and was incorrect. Biden stated that he would not relent in his efforts to provide borrowers, particularly those at the bottom of the economic scale, with what they require.

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The Education Department has finalised a programme that will lower the monthly payments that borrowers with undergraduate loans must make to 5% of discretionary income rather than 10%, which the administration claims will save them $1,000 annually.

Additionally, the plan includes loan forgiveness for borrowers with outstanding balances of $12,000 or less after 10 years of consistent payments rather than the previous 20 years. This particular benefit is intended to provide relief to community college graduates.

Progressive voters, who make up the coalition that supported Biden’s re-election in 2020, have long pressed the White House to handle student loan debt; the court’s ruling heightened calls for additional action.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling and prior to President Biden’s address, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, an influential progressive figure, stated on Twitter that “the president has more tools to cancel student debt—and he must use them.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive House Democrat, asked Biden to use the Higher Education Act’s powers to continue loan forgiveness before payments resume after a break. She wrote on Twitter, “We still have the power to cancel and must do so, or we’re looking at an economic crisis for millions of people.”

According to an Ipsos poll conducted this year, approximately 53% of Americans supported Biden’s original student loan forgiveness programme, with 81% of Democrats showing approval.

With an eye on the 2024 re-election bid, Democrats are keen to see Biden’s commitment to student debt relief. They hope that potential conservative rulings from the court on debt relief and affirmative action in college admissions will mobilise voters in a similar manner as the court’s decision to strike down abortion rights did in 2022.

The White House made it clear that it would hold Republicans accountable for thwarting efforts to reduce student loan debt. Republican elected figures were criticised by Biden for backing massive loans to firms associated with the pandemic that was ultimately forgiven but opposing student debt reduction.

During a press briefing, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona mentioned specific Republican lawmakers by name, pointing out that they collectively had millions of dollars in pandemic-related loans forgiven.

Republicans said that Biden’s initial student loan forgiveness plan was unlawful and unjust.

According to Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Biden’s student loan bailout unfairly punished Americans who had already paid off their loans, saved for education, or chosen a different professional path.

She expressed gratitude and said the Supreme Court saw right through this frantic vote grab.

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