Supreme Court evaluates President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan

Did President Biden go too far when he signed an executive order to eliminate up to $20,000 in student loan debt? 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday and will ultimately decide if the order is legal. 

Democratic analyst Ed Espinosa and Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party, joined FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to discuss.

Rebecca: Matt, how do you see the conservative court ruling on this case?

Matt: I'd wager a pretty large amount of money that the Supreme Court will find that the present United States cannot use the Heroes Act, which was passed in 2003, to unilaterally wipe out up to $1,000,000,000,000 in student loan debt. Look, you have to separate whether you're doing something about college. College debt for students is a good idea versus whether the United States has the authority in the Constitution to do that. The Constitution is very clear. The power to appropriate money, the power to spend money rests in Congress. The secretary of education has said they don't have this power. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said this power cannot be used through an executive order. This was a cheap political effort last year in an election year to try and basically bribe young voters by making it seem like they were going to be able to cancel this debt. They're not going to be able to. And I think the court is going to rule very clearly on this.

Rebecca: Ed, do you think the Supreme Court will affirm lower court rulings that the executive order was illegal?

Ed: You know, this is not my area of expertise when it comes to the law, but I am familiar with the student debt crisis, not through my own being, but through what I've seen other people go through. By the way, it's not just young voters. It's a lot of people who are in their forties and fifties who have struggled with student loan debt because of the 1996 law that privatized a lot of this debt. Imagine making payments on your house or your car, and years later you still owe more or as much as you borrowed in the first place. Well, that is what's happening with student loans, except unlike a house or a car, you don't have any equity. So people who have paid back their loans in full still owe as much as they did the day they took out the loan because of the spiraling interest. And that is the problem that we have here right now. And that's what's Biden has been trying to address. And again, not just young people, a lot of working professionals of middle age right now.

Rebecca: So, Matt, I mean, should we take action, or should Congress take action when it comes to the interest that people pay on student loans?

Matt: Yeah. So there's I think there are two other issues related to all this. The first is you have a lot of people who have worked hard to pay off their college debt, college loan debt, you know, depriving themselves of vacations and in nice cars and big houses and things that that that you might have as you get older and make more money. They've been responsible. Why are there people still have that debt and now are going to have it wiped out if this goes forward. So I think there's a there's an issue of fairness there that I think is very jarring to a lot of people. But I think second is we don't want to subsidize the higher education in our country where you see the cost of tuition rising far beyond the value that it provides, particularly in specific majors that do not have clear career paths with solid starting salaries. Now, again, do I think this is an issue Congress can look at and take on in a bipartisan way? Sure, that's the right way to do it. When you want to spend taxpayer money, you do it through Congress, not through the president. United States dreaming up a power that he doesn't have. This is going to get ruled against. It's going to be tragic for the people who are counting on this. And hopefully it can get Congress to move in that direction.

Rebecca: And we are running out of time. Ed, final thought?

Ed: You know, the president took this up because Congress didn't take it up and Congress should absolutely take it up. And as far as people who have already paid back their loans, I'm one of those people who took out loans and paid them back. But I was not taking loans out under a system that exists today. Many of the people who took out loans and paid them back did not do it. Under these circumstances where many of these loans hold. These people who hold loans have paid 100% back of what they owe and still owe 100% of it. It's really maddening. It's unfair, and somebody should take action. I'm glad the president took the first step. I hope Congress takes the next step.

Rebecca: All right, Ed, Matt, thank you both for sharing your perspectives with us tonight.