Under the Obama administration, there was a popular lefty proposal to sideline the debt limit by just having the Treasury Department mint a trillion-dollar coin. Biden’s proposal to cancel student loan debt on a massive scale by abusing the Heroes Act, a post 9/11 measure meant to help military personnel leaving college was a similar power grab and an obscene scam. It was a naked effort at voter turnout and it succeeded at that.
Losing in the Supreme Court doesn’t especially hurt Biden, much like the Dobbs decision, it helps boost voter turnout further.
But the Supreme Court’s decision was the right move for reining in this grotesque abuse of power.
The student loan bailout was estimated to surpass $500 billion. That’s not that far short of minting a trillion-dollar coin. And the larger issue at stake here is that if a president can just decide to hand out $500 billion or more by finding some loophole in an old bill somewhere, is there anything that he can’t do?
Congress is supposed to appropriate funds. When the executive branch starts appropriating funds to its own programs, there isn’t a constitutional government anymore, just a dictatorship with occasional elections.
The Supreme Court’s decision is the correct one and I’m not going to quote it at length as it gets into technicalities that are important, but not that quotable. The gist of it is that the White House can’t just create massive new entitlement schemes that Congress never voted on out of thin air based on some older bill. But the Court leaves undone other major instances when the executive branch simply decided to take an existing bill, use a loophole and build entirely new programs around it.
The fundamental issue at stake here is the checks and balances between the branches of government in a republic where the legislative branch increasingly doesn’t do all that much except approve spending programs and the agendas of the majority party that holds the White House.
That’s why voters tend to hand control of Congress and the White House to different parties. And, coping with that, presidents have come to rely on the ‘pen and phone’, on executive orders, on promising to solve problems on their own while sidelining Congress entirely. This is a dictatorial breakdown of constitutional government. And it also doesn’t work.
Presidents make empty promises and tell their supporters that they can fix problems with executive orders. They can’t. All they do is wreck the country even more while implementing measures that mostly don’t outlive their term in office.