A threat to democracy comes in all forms and from both sides

In a sweeping rejection of a Supreme Court ruling, President Joe Biden continued his effort to ignore the Constitution and proceed with his student-debt-forgiveness scheme last week. Pictured: President Joe Biden. Photo Credit: AFP/Mandel Ngan via Getty Images. 


In campaign ads running across the United States and in think tank sessions held on most dominant media outlets, the threat to democracy takes centre stage. Yet, in a sweeping rejection of a Supreme Court ruling, President Joe Biden continued his effort to ignore the Constitution and proceed with his student-debt-forgiveness scheme last week. 

The plan calls for cancelling debts totalling $1.2 billion for approximately 153,000 people. In June, the Supreme Court ruled the program an illegal abuse of power. Since then, according to James Bovard in the New York Post, Biden has moved to forgive $138 billion dollars in student debt, and more is on the way. 

Proudly announcing the policy last week, the White House said: “The President has cancelled more student debt than any President in history.” And former president Donald Trump’s mythologized authoritarian dictatorship was supposed to be the threat. It has superseded him in the form of 81-year-old Joe Biden, who lethargically appears for these grand executive directives, too lazy or too limited to work for legislation that would legitimize his prescriptions. 

Biden’s efforts are a clear-cut example of a Democratic president using his authority to circumvent the legislature and the courts. If Trump or any Republican had tried this, the howling and outrage in the mainstream media would resemble that of a chorus of scorched cats. Biden’s shameless and desperate attempt to win votes and bribe the electorate will affect a small number of people, but ones he has to have in the fall, especially in the closely contested battleground states. 

As Matthew Continetti pointed out on Commentary’s daily podcast on Feb. 22, debt forgiveness does not exist. This action merely transfers the debt from the borrowers to the taxpayers. Classically liberal, the move spreads the pain to award electoral constituencies Biden needs to win re-election. A constituency, one might add, that seems less than energetic and possibly disinterested in voting for the president.  

The regressive nature of the initiative appeals to college degree holders while stiffing many red state voters who run their own businesses, work in the trades or hold down two or more jobs but lack a college education. While doing nothing about the border crisis, Biden has taken care of his voters, often the most secure and protected part of the electorate, who have run up debts as high as $200,000 and now expect workers to pay for it. Polls revealed an enthusiasm gap for Biden among younger voters. Having already tried this before, Biden returned to loan forgiveness to try and heal the disconnect.  

The Administration hopes this will pass muster because the program is limited and restrictive. It only helps those Americans who are already out of college and owe $10,000 or less. On top of this, for every $1,000 forgiven, they must pay off their debt for a year. The number of people affected is about three million in a cohort of 75 million (ages 18-34). How much this helps Biden is up for discussion, but in a year where every vote will matter, the justification is about electoral politics. The threat to democracy in Biden’s world only happens when Trump plays fast and loose with the Constitution or the enumerated powers. If the cause is important enough, democracy can take a back seat. Those of us not convinced should be comforted that Biden and the Democrats know best. 

Adding insult to injury, eligible recipients will hear from the president in an email: “I hope this relief gives you a little more breathing room. I’ve heard from countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they’ve put on hold.” 

This tidy message may seem quaint today from Grandpa Joe. In 2001, when former president George W. Bush put his name on rebates to all Americans, the media decried the move as a violation of all norms, if not the law, asking how the president could dare to politicize the legislation. 

As the liberal spending machine revs up for the fall election, whether or not this latest iteration will work remains to be seen. For dozens of voting cycles, the New Deal dogma has been: tax, tax, spend, spend, elect, elect. Will voters give Biden credit? So far, his efforts to endear himself to the voting public have failed. I suspect this attempt will also fall short. Expect a few more from an Administration running out of ideas and time.

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