Compare President Biden’s promises to his actions
Should the pundits, who tend to assign nicknames to certain presidential actions, consider referring to President Joe Biden’s “forgiveness” of student loans as “Presidential Puff?”
As a candidate, Joseph Biden Jr. promised to become the “great uniter” who would end COVID-19 while being the “adult” in foreign relations. Were these just “puff?”
About 18 months after candidate Biden became President Biden, the “great uniter” has avoided Congress by issuing a record number of executive orders while dividing the country so much that all congressional votes are on a party-line basis that even require special terms to secure the votes of Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Meanwhile, COVID continued. Russia invaded Ukraine. Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear weapons. And China is threatening Taiwan.
As the election season continued — “The beat goes on, and on, and on” (“The Beat Goes On,” as sung by Sonny and Cher) — the president was returning from a vacation on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, to sign the Inflation Reduction Act before leaving for a vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
At this beach, behind a secure government-built fence, a luxury denied U.S. citizens along our southern border in places like Eagle Pass, Texas, the “great uniter” used the guise of the Higher Education Relief and Opportunities for Student Act, passed to honor heroes and their families after the 9/11 attack, to transfer billions in student debt to taxpayers, including those in places like Eagle Pass.
The first federally supported student loan initiative was The National Defense Education Act of 1958, signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. The intent was to provide funding to improve American schools and to promote secondary education to compete with the Soviets in science and technology. Why wasn’t the transferring of debt limited to students who studied science and technology? Or to the national average for monthly payments for student loans of $460, or $2.87 per hour for full time employees?
In a bit of huffing and puffing, the Obama-Biden team said they could administer student loans better than the banks, who had been preventing students from borrowing more money than they could repay, by bringing the loan process into the White House. How has that worked out?
In the first 54 years, with the banks administering the loans, the student debt averaged $170 billion a year for a total of $1 trillion. In the 10 years the White House has administered it, from 2012-2022, the student debt rose 70% for an average increase of $1.7 trillion a year to a total of $17 trillion. Has the Biden administration realized the wisdom of the Shakespearean character Cassius: “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves?”
Not really. Career politicians never admit their mistakes, but instead, to use a poker expression, they “double down,” which in this case means transferring some of the debt from the student borrowers to the taxpaying public.
A metaphor for this “forgiveness” is found in “The Three Pigs” by Joseph Jacobs, published in “English Fairy Tales” in 1890.
In this metaphor, the pigs, representing the various portions of government, try to avoid the wolf, representing the presidential administration. The first pig, symbolic of the House of Representatives, built a house out of straw. The wolf said “I’ll huff, and puff, and I’ll blow your house down,” which he did before devouring the first pig.
Indeed, the administration blew down the resistance of the “House of Straw” despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s saying on July 28, 2021, “People think that the president of the US.. 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.”
However, the approaching midterm election has silenced the speaker.
In the metaphor, the second pig, symbolic of the Senate, built a house out of sticks. The wolf made his “huff and puff” speech before blowing the house down and devouring the pig as is happening due to the resistance in the Senate because of the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat.
The third pig, symbolic of the Supreme Court, built a house of bricks, symbolic of the Constitution, that continues serving its purpose despite the wolf’s “huffing and puffing” routine.
Similarly, the Supreme Court will use the Constitution to withstand the unconstitutionality of the “forgiveness” program for the same reasons as previously espoused by Speaker Pelosi.
Of course, wolves don’t stop. They just change direction, and in the story, the wolf attempting to destroy the brick house from within proved to be his demise.
Meanwhile, the administration says it has no idea of the amounts being “forgiven” and that even closer to the elections, there will be more “transfers.” The current estimates of others run between $300 billion and a trillion with 93% of it being federal money. Will the 7% private funding also be transferred to taxpayers?
As discussed in my recent piece “IRS: Fact or Fiction” (Aug. 14), forgiveness of debt is a taxable event. Do you think some of the new 87,000 IRs agents will chase “the forgiven?”
Is calling the transfer of debt a “forgiveness” program “Presidential Puff?”
Brent E. Zepke is an attorney, arbitrator and author who lives in Santa Barbara. His website is OneheartTwoLivescom.wordpress.com. Formerly, he taught law and business at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”