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EDITORIAL: Biden thinks he signed a bill on student loan amnesty

President Joe Biden in August unveiled the vote-buying scheme known as student loan forgiveness. Two months later he has forgotten the particulars.

During an on-camera interview released Sunday with the left-wing group NowThisNews, the president begins talking about his loan amnesty plan. He tells the activists that they “probably are aware, I just signed a law” on student debt relief that Republicans are challenging in court. He goes on to say that “it’s passed. I got it passed by a vote or two, and it’s in effect.”

As blunders go, this one is vintage Biden. His economic agenda has been a model of confusion, and the incoherence now spills over into the president’s student loan policy.

In fact, Mr. Biden signed no such law because Congress passed no such law, which is why his actions are now being challenged in court. Rather than go through the legislative branch, the president did an end-around, relying on a 20-year old law that gives the secretary of education certain powers to rewrite loan terms during national emergencies. It’s worth noting that Mr. Biden declared the pandemic to be “over” well before the forgiveness plan went into effect.

The president’s unilateral move — which would eliminate $10,000 of debt for most borrowers — faces several legal obstacles, including a lawsuit by six states. Last week, a federal judge ruled that the states did have standing to sue, but he acknowledged that the case raised “important and significant” issues. A day later, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the lower court’s ruling until further review and ordered the administration to take no more action on the plan until the legal case is decided.

The White House responded by downplaying the stay. It is “important to note,” an administration statement said, “that the order does not reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the case, or suggest that the case has merit. It merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court makes a decision. We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order.”

Putting aside the legal debate, Mr. Biden’s $400 billion giveaway is an affront to those who met their obligations, those who paid their way through college and those who never enrolled at all. It sends precisely the wrong message regarding the importance of personal responsibility and does nothing to reform the very loan programs that brought us to this point in the first place, ensuring a repeat in the years to come. In short, like most of the president’s agenda, it’s a mess.

From a legal perspective, Mr. Biden’s actions on student loans raise important constitutional questions involving presidential authority and the separation of powers. These are issues that merit adjudication, a process highly likely to produce an outcome that the administration won’t embrace.

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