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Port: It doesn't matter who got a PPP loan, President Biden's student loan forgiveness stinks

Instead, the response to Biden's forgiveness order has consisted of the right branding debt-burdened students as a bunch of lazy freeloaders while left-wingers carry on as if anyone who has ever participated in any other government program, like the PPP loans or farm subsidies, cannot be opposed to Biden's order without being a hypocrite. Which is the sort of logic we should expect from middle schoolers, not adults. And we wonder why our politics have grown dysfunctional.

U.S. President Biden delivers remarks on student loan debt relief plan at the White House in Washington
President Joe Biden is flanked by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona as he speaks about administration plans to forgive federal student loan debt during remarks Wednesday in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington.
Leah Millis / Reuters
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MINOT, N.D. — I think President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness order is little more than a crass, calculated, election-year giveaway.

I don't believe it's legal. The president doesn't have the authority to enact this sort of policy without Congress.

It's amusing to see certain left-wing partisans here in North Dakota griping about how our state's all-Republican delegation hasn't negotiated forgiveness for students who got their loans through the Bank of North Dakota. Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, and Earl Pomeroy, our former all-Democratic delegation, would have gotten the job done, they tell us.

This is a criticism that might make sense if President Biden had bothered to work with Congress on this policy.

How, exactly, can Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, or Congressman Kelly Armstrong, offer an amendment to an executive order?

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I also don't think Biden's order is good policy. The explosion in the cost of higher education — it's grown far faster than health care costs, housing costs, energy costs, food costs — has been driven in no small part by government policy.

The government made it so that everyone was entitled to get a student loan and — surprise! — that provoked runaway inflation in the cost of higher education.

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The higher education industry has grown decadent.

Campuses are more lavish, and the amount of campus bureaucracy has boomed , all while students, and often faculty, get the short end of the stick.

Biden's order does not one thing to address that problem. If anything, he's making it worse. If we open the door to forgiving debt, we'll never close it again, and institutions will be emboldened to run up costs even higher. Students will feel safe in accumulating more debt.

I'd be willing to countenance student loan forgiveness if it was part of a larger package that included dramatic reforms for student loan and higher education policy to get costs under control.

But we aren't talking about these things.

Instead, the response to Biden's forgiveness order has consisted of the right branding debt-burdened students as a bunch of lazy freeloaders while left-wingers carry on as if anyone who has ever participated in any other government program, like the PPP loans or farm subsidies, cannot be opposed to Biden's order without being a hypocrite.

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Which is the sort of logic we should expect from middle-schoolers, not adults.

And we wonder why our politics have grown dysfunctional.

The students with debt are not freeloaders. They are the victims of generations worth of bad public policy that was often implemented for the benefit of the institutions they attended and not necessarily for them. There is a government-created problem at the center of this debacle, and conservatives could be talking about it if they would only drop the sanctimony.

And, I'm sorry liberals, but Biden's order, absent meaningful reforms, and without the approval of Congress, is an election-year vote-buying scheme, and that's true regardless of whether I've taken a PPP loan.

(I haven't taken a PPP loan, to be clear. But I do claim tax credits for my children when I file my income taxes. So come at me.)

Student loan debt is a real problem. It deserves a real solution.

I wish we had some political leaders who were really interested in offering one.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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