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Biden said Congress passed student loan cancellation. That's a lie, and you should care.

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/26/2022 Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY

During a weekend interview with the progressive group NowThis News, President Joe Biden made the startling claim that he had “signed a law” to forgive student debt. 

After going into some detail about how much the “law” would offer 40 million Americans, he also said, “It’s passed. I got it passed by a vote or two, and it’s in effect.”


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Let’s break down that claim. Biden – on his own through executive action – announced sweeping debt relief in August. It absolutely did not go through Congress, nor was it signed into law.

It should have gone through the legislative process, however, and Biden must know that, having served for decades in the Senate. 

Congress controls the purse and serves as a check on the executive branch. Yet Biden had no problem unilaterally legislating this “forgiveness,” which will cost taxpayers at least $500 billion

And the student loan debt doesn’t just magically disappear. It will become a burden for all Americans to shoulder and will add to our growing national debt. With inflation already sky high, it’s also a terrible time to infuse the economy with more cash. 

More from Ingrid Jacques: $31 trillion may seem a fanciful number, but U.S. debt will soon hit your wallet hard

Where's the outrage? 

Let’s get back to what the president said. Imagine if former President Donald Trump had tried to pawn off to Congress a controversial executive action he took. I guarantee widespread outrage would have ensued. 

This didn’t happen with Biden’s lie, outside of initial attention from conservative media. 

The timing is especially embarrassing for the president, as his administration battles multiple lawsuits arguing that the executive action on loans is unconstitutional. On Friday, an appeals court granted six states a stay, which places loan forgiveness on hold for now. 

Lawsuits expose plans flaws: Biden’s fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach to canceling student loans is creating a huge mess

The Biden administration said that, as of Friday, 22 million borrowers have filed for forgiveness (who doesn’t like “free” stuff?). The administration encouraged people to keep applying, despite the legal wrangling. 

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When asked about Biden’s latest gaffe, the White House awkwardly claimed that the president was talking about the passage this summer of the Inflation Reduction Act, which offered “savings” for the student loan bailout. 

Yeah, right. 

Is Biden making these decisions? 

Biden is no stranger to these kinds of blunders, but they seem to be happening more frequently. In recent weeks, he has struggled mightily to say big numbers. At an event in September, he called out for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, who had died the previous month in a car accident. 

And now, confusing an executive action Biden himself made with an act of Congress is a huge deal, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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Biden largely gets a pass in the news media on many of these gaffes, much more than Trump ever did. But just because Biden may seem “nicer” and more sincere than the former president, that’s not a good reason to overlook these glaring incidents.

USA TODAY columnist Ingrid Jacques © Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY Network USA TODAY columnist Ingrid Jacques

It also raises questions about Biden’s mental acuity. I don’t fault him for growing older – he’s turning 80 next month. 

But if Biden can’t remember taking such a sweeping executive action, it makes me wonder: If he isn’t making these decisions, who is?

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden said Congress passed student loan cancellation. That's a lie, and you should care.



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