Nancy Pelosi was quick to praise Biden’s student loan move on Wednesday. In a statement picked up by Fox News, the Speaker of the House said, “By delivering historic targeted student debt relief to millions of borrowers, more working families will be able to meet their kitchen table needs as they continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic…Importantly, this action will help those most in need, easing a financial burden disproportionately harming women and people of color.” But a little more than a year ago, Pelosi took issue with the idea, recalls National Review:
“People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone. He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress…The President can’t do it. So that’s not even a discussion. Not everybody realizes that. But the President can only postpone, delay, but not forgive,” National Review notes that at the time, she suspected voters would be angered by the move and question its fairness. She added, “your child just decided they want to – at this time, not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations.” And back then, even the Department of Education was on board with that notion.
In a rare Twilight Zone moment, some conservative commentators are noting that she was right. But that was then, this is now. Even if Congress has the power and Biden does not, it is all academic.
I remember hearing about an old courtroom trick. A lawyer would make an outrageous allegation or make a query that would elicit a questionable response from a witness. The opposing attorney would object, and if the objection was sustained, the judge would order the jury to disregard the remark. But the jurors won’t be able to disregard the remark. It is left hanging in the air and is lodged in their minds.
So no matter if Congress is the only entity that can forgive student loans, and even in the highly unlikely event that Biden has to walk it back, it won’t matter. The message is out there, hanging in the air and lodging in many voters’ minds: Joe Biden wants to take away our student debt, and mean conservatives are mad about it.
This is meant to galvanize voters who have no idea how an economy works or what the words “national debt” mean. It is also meant to wipe away inflation, high gas prices, the debacle in Afghanistan, and everything else that makes up the track record of the last two dismal years.
Most of those voters won’t get it until it impacts them personally. And even then, their preferred media will tell them that somehow, it is all the conservatives’ fault.
And to be honest, there are probably plenty of conservative parents and former students who won’t think about the long-term effects. They will just be happy to be off the hook, in some cases for useless degrees from mercenary institutions.
This was a Hail Mary move. And hell, it just might work.