KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Ross: If the American system rewards hard work, cancel student loan debt

Feb 28, 2023, 8:18 AM | Updated: 9:08 am

American system...

Student debt relief advocates gather outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, ahead of arguments over President Joe Biden's student debt relief plan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is the traditional American response to anyone who complains about his lot in life. Stop whining! Grab the opportunity by the horns! Make your own luck. The American system rewards hard work.

This brings me to the case being argued in the Supreme Court Tuesday. At stake is whether President Biden had the power to cancel $500 billion of student debt based on the COVID-19 emergency.

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The case has nothing to do with education – but instead whether the President exceeded his authority under something called the HEROS Act – which stands for Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students.

The HEROS Act was a response to the 9/11 attack, as former Attorney General Rob McKenna explained on our show.

“It allows the Secretary of Education to waive or modify the terms of federal student loans in times of war or national emergency,” McKenna said. “The central debating point here is whether or not the COVID pandemic is a national emergency that justifies cancellation of the debt.”

The problem with that approach is that the COVID-19 emergency no longer exists. Which could leave the loan forgiveness program on pretty thin ice.

But might I suggest we have another even bigger emergency to deal with? As in a social emergency?

We have a deep divide that seems to be getting wider. We have a large group of people who feel cut off from the American dream because of discrimination and another large group of people who say the complainers need to get over it and just pull themselves up.

The new leader of the pull-yourself-up movement appears to be Dilbert creator Scott Adams, who said this in his now-notorious video.

“Everybody who focuses their priority on education does well. If they don’t, it can’t be my problem if the solution is so clear, so available, and people don’t want to take it,” Adams said.

I hear that argument a lot– “the solution is so clear,” stop whining and get an education!


And I bring it up here because that’s who these 43 million borrowers are – these are the people who made education their first priority, just like they’re supposed to – only to find their education interrupted by a pandemic, and now their job prospects hindered by a crippled economy.

And it seems crazy to me that the Supreme Court could pile on and issue a decision that ends up punishing the very people who were doing the right thing.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: If the American system rewards hard work, cancel student loan debt