Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is still exploring ways to make himself even more unpopular with the general public. This time around, it’s about student loan debt forgiveness. He knows just how to do it, too: by using the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cruz immediately targeted President Joe Biden’s debt forgiveness plan, for the most obvious of reasons—it’s popular with voters and poses a “real risk” of driving turnout for Democrats in November. He had to say it in the most despicable way possible, too. “If you are that slacker barista who wasted seven years in college studying completely useless things, now has loans and can't get a job, Joe Biden just gave you 20 grand. [...] You know, maybe you weren't gonna vote in November, and suddenly you just got 20 grand.” All they have to do, he said, is “get off the bong for a minute and head down to the voting station.”
No one should ever have to watch the clock run out on their human and constitutional rights. We need a fair Supreme Court that won’t thwart the will of the people. Sign and send the petition to your Democratic members of Congress: Pass the Judiciary Act of 2021.
So he and the Heritage Foundation are out trawling for plaintiffs, a favorite pastime of Republicans who don’t want people to have nice things, like access to health care or well-funded public education, or affordable college. Or a say in what happens to their bodies, or who they marry. Thanks to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court is right there with them.
Never mind that the legal authority exists for Biden to cancel student debt. Never mind that that legal authority came in 2003 under a Republican president—George W. Bush—following the 9/11 attack. The Higher Education Relief Opportunities For Students (HEROES) Act was enacted to relieve some of the financial burden on the cannon fodder Bush and Dick Cheney were sending off to fight an unjust war in Iraq, but was written to apply “in times of war or military operation or national emergency.” The former guy used it to postpone student loan payments at the beginning of the pandemic, the national emergency we are still under.
“The legality is very, very strong. … The language of the Heroes Act states that in a national emergency, the president can take action that includes suspending or canceling debt,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor who advises the Biden administration, told The Washington Post.
"The legal authority gives the Secretary the ability to make sure that the pandemic and the emergency does not cause a net financial harm to those folks," Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters in a press conference following Biden’s announcement.
But when has that stopped the Republicans—or the Trump-packed Supreme Court, for that matter?
The White House is going to make this as political as it needs to be. White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan blasted Republicans last week for their opposition. “Let’s be clear about what they would be trying to do here: The same folks who voted for a $2 trillion tax giveaway for the rich and had hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own small business loan debt forgiven would be trying to keep millions of working middle-class Americans in mountains of debt.”
That’s not going to stop Cruz, no matter how popular the loan forgiveness plan is, even among people who have paid off their loans and who don’t even have student loans. Cruz, his fellow Republicans, and certainly the extremist Supreme Court aren’t going to care about what’s best for the people
The reality is with this Supreme Court majority, Cruz doesn’t have to worry about making an argument. He might have some trouble finding a plaintiff that would be dishonest enough to argue that they are harmed by the debt relief plan, but won’t have trouble with this court.
It’s beyond time for a serious plan to reform and expand the court and restore its legitimacy. Too much hangs in the balance.
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