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EDITORIAL: White House works around court ruling

President Joe Biden has embraced the Andrew Jackson approach when it comes to student loan debt.

In response to an 1832 Supreme Court ruling, the nation’s seventh president is reputed to have said defiantly, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

The quote may be apocryphal, but Mr. Biden has clearly taken it to heart.

Eighteen months after the Supreme Court struck down as an unconstitutional power grab the Biden administration’s scheme to unilaterally forgive more than $400 billion in student loan obligations, the White House continues to seek workarounds to the ruling.

Last week, the president announced a plan to wipe away student loan debt for those who can meet certain standards for financial hardship. The move will cost U.S. taxpayers billions and will only encourage students to take out more than they are able to repay. And why not, when Uncle Sam will ride to the rescue?

The move is the latest in a series of moves Mr. Biden has made in the wake of the court’s repudiation of his original plan to forgive up to $10,000 in debt for most borrowers. The justices held that the president lacked the authority to enact such sweeping amnesty absent congressional approval.

Since then, the president has taken a piecemeal strategy. As of last October, CNN reports, the White House has discharged $127 billion for 3.6 million borrowers “through existing federal student loan forgiveness programs, which are limited to specific categories of borrowers.” That includes the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which provides for waiving the obligations of government workers, a key Democratic constituency.

There are pending legal challenges to the administration’s student loan maneuverings.

“The Biden administration,” Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said in a statement last year, “is trampling the rule of law, hurting borrowers and abusing taxpayers to chase headlines.” And votes, we might add.

The student loan program has myriad issues, but allowing borrowers to renege on their obligations isn’t the way to solve them. Absent reforms, it will only exacerbate the problem and set up taxpayers for an expensive repeat down the road. Forgiveness also sends precisely the wrong message to borrowers. Not only is it an affront to personal responsibility, it’s also a Bronx cheer to those who paid off their loans, scrimped to cover their own tuition or avoided college altogether.

Mr. Biden and Democrats savage Donald Trump as a would-be dictator, a threat to “democracy” and the bane of our political institutions. But the president’s refusal to work with Congress to achieve his student loan goals reveals that this White House has its own autocratic tendencies.

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