After President Joe Biden’s previous student debt relief plan was shut down by the Supreme Court last month, his administration created a new plan that will relieve over 800,000 people of roughly $39 billion in student debt. Right-wing media are once again pushing biased objections that it is too expensive, too unfair, and too political.
While the Supreme Court overruled the Biden administration’s last attempt at student debt relief, this current plan likely won’t face the same legal challenges. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court ruled the executive branch overstepped its authority in using the HEROES Act to authorize the education secretary to waive or modify financial assistance for an estimated 40 million borrowers, including 20 million who “would have had their loan balances erased." But experts say the new plan relies on a narrow authority to forgive loans that Congress has already given to the Department of Education, making it more likely to withstand legal pressure.
Right-wing media celebrated when the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s initial student loan forgiveness plan, and they have long attacked student loan repayment plans and denied the gravity of the student debt crisis. Now, as the coverage turns to Biden’s new plan, Fox News figures are using the same arguments focusing on cost, fairness, and electoral politics, and claiming that Biden does not have the power to forgive student loans.
- Fox Business host Charles Payne drew a misleading comparison to the Supreme Court striking down Biden’s old plan to suggest the new plan will be unconstitutional: “Of course they were working on alternatives. The day they implemented this policy to forgive $400 billion they had no legal authority to forgive, they were working on alternatives, Martha, because they knew it was wrong then and they know it's wrong now.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7/14/23]
- Fox News anchor Shannon Bream noted that while there are some differences between Biden’s plans, the two will likely face similar legal challenges: “There are already members of Congress who said, ‘We will see you in court.’ So it's going to get the legal treatment as well. I mean, this administration has promised over $116 billion in loan forgiveness since they took office, so we’ll see. … Off to court we go.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 7/16/23]
- Fox News host Steve Doocy said Biden’s plan is “a grab for votes,” adding that “Joe Biden desperately needs the young people, particularly college kids, to vote for him.” In reality, Biden’s new plan will affect people who have held debt for 20-25 years rather than recent borrowers. Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett agreed with Doocy, calling it “a naked grab for votes,” and argued that the new plan would be unconstitutional. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/18/23]
- Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade attacked Biden’s plan, saying, “He’s doing things to win votes.” Kilmeade suggested Biden feels that “18-to 25-year-olds, I see the numbers — no one is voting for me anymore. So why don’t I do something that makes it look like I am working in your best interest.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/18/23]
- Bream dismissed the move as a ploy to draw potential voters, saying, “They say this it’s an administrative fix to the past — just conveniently, though, [it] benefits 800,000 people who might be voting next time.” [Fox News, Fox News Sunday, 7/16/23]
- Fox News reporter Hillary Vaughn parroted GOP talking points, saying, “This $39 billion bailout, though, to let people off the hook from paying their debt, is happening while the U.S. government is taking on billions of debt and drowning in the interest of paying off that debt.” She added, “The Committee for Responsible Federal Budget saying the U.S. federal government is taking on $5 billion in debt a day and warning of the consequences.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/17/23]
- Fox Business correspondent Edward Lawrence said, “The president is starting the process to further work around the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to block student loan forgiveness. … That change [is] aimed at wiping out hundreds of billions of dollars more in student loan debt, and taxpayers will pay for it.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/18/23]
- On The Faulkner Focus, SiriusXM host Shermichael Singleton claimed that it is too large of a burden on the average taxpayer: “For the average taxpayer, they’re looking at this and they’re saying saying, ‘OK, I want to make sure that Americans are intelligent, have degrees, have experience, but I don't want to spend an additional $5-10 billion on people who want to get an arts degree.’” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 7/18/23]
- Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tom Dupree called Biden’s plan a “huge wealth transfer from Americans who didn’t attend college or did attend college but paid off their loans to those who attended college but didn't pay off their loans,” adding, “It's a political motive no matter how the secretary of education tries to dress it up as correcting old errors.” [Fox News, Your World, 7/17/23]
- On Hannity, guest Lara Trump commented on Democrats in general: “These are people who don't feel like anyone should have any personal responsibility. Take out a student loan and don't feel like paying it back? Hey, don't worry about it — Joe Biden said for a long time he has you covered.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/17/23]