Judd Gregg, a former Republican U.S. senator and governor of New Hampshire, said Monday that President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program was “the biggest vote-buying scheme ever undertaken by a president.”
“It’s all it was; 40 million people get 20,000 bucks [each],” Gregg, 76, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I'll vote for you if you give me 20,000 bucks. That is what it is about, and that’s what it’s still about; and that's why they are trying to reform it so that they can keep this idea that they’re going to give this huge break, this income to all of these folks going into the next election.
“It clearly violated Article I of the Constitution. The Congress has control of the purse. This was an attempt to spend almost $500 billion and add it to the debt.
"Ironically, the people who were going to pay for that are people who haven't gone to college. The waitress at the local diner or the guy working at the local automobile repair shop. They’re the ones that pay for this.
"The people who are getting the benefit, they signed up to pay it back, but now they don't have to pay it back according to the president, because I want your vote — it’s pretty much that simple.”
Biden’s initial proposal, based off a broad interpretation of the HEROES Act of 2003, would provide up to $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the U.S. Department of Education and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers were eligible for relief if their individual income was less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households. But the Supreme Court ruled Biden exceeded his authority and struck down the plan.
Biden vowed to pursue a new path to debt relief but acknowledged that "it’s going to take longer." The Department of Education also unveiled a new income-driven loan repayment plan.
“If the Congress wants to give away $20,000 per person to 40 million people and put the rest of the country at risk and increase the debt and deficit, they have the right to do that,” Gregg said. “You can't do it from the executive branch because the executive branch doesn't have that right under the Constitution.
"This is just power politics trying to buy votes. It's that simple, and it ought to be called out for what it was.”
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