Twice this week the president presented workaround plans within hours of Supreme Court decisions that went against him. It’s a learned response from the flat-footed aftermath of last year’s abortion ruling.
President Joe Biden was roundly criticized last year by members of his own Democratic Party when the White House had no immediate plan of action to deal with the Supreme Court’s stunning ruling taking away the guaranteed right to an abortion.
This week, the administration was ready.
Almost immediately after the high court Thursday handed down a decision upending affirmative action, the White House was out with a fact sheet with guidance for higher educational institutions on ways to ensure access for people of color without defying the high court. In a detailed plan – which accompanied a speech by the president – the White House also announced it will convene a national summit on educational opportunity and direct the Department of Education to deliver a report by September outlining strategies to increase student body diversity.
Friday, the White House went into rapid-response mode again after the Supreme Court ruled that Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan was unconstitutional. Within hours, the White House announced an afternoon presidential speech and a briefing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on exactly what the administration would do to provide student debt relief.
“We’re not going to waste any time on this,” Biden said in remarks at the White House on Friday, the second day running he has addressed a Supreme Court ruling. He acknowledged, however, that his plan – which involves using Department of Education authority to waive or release loans under certain circumstances – would take longer to implement than his rejected debt relief plan, for which 16 million people had already been approved.
Allies denounced the high court ruling but hailed the expeditious response from the White House.
“I applaud the president for announcing the policy immediately,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told MSNBC on Friday, though noting that the new plan would not be as quick, since the Education Department will have to go through the rule-making process.
The speedier and more aggressive response comes as Biden mounts his 2024 reelection campaign. The president’s approval ratings are low – higher than his leading potential opponent, former President Donald Trump, but troubling for a president whose Democratic base has been disappointed by the administration’s inability to advance legislation protecting voting rights, abortion rights and other issues important to liberals.
Biden promised to provide student debt relief during his 2020 campaign. And while the high court ruling was not his doing, the decision is not welcome when the 80-year-old president is struggling to win over young voters, who were important to his 2020 victory over Trump.
A Harvard University Institute of Politics poll this spring found that just 36% of people aged 18-29 approve of Biden’s performance as president, with 61% disapproving of his performance.
Victor Shi, a youth activist and 2020 Biden delegate, says young voters won’t blame the president, since he has no control over what is done by a conservative court. But it is important that the president quickly come out with a Plan B, he says.
“President Biden promised people he would cancel student loan debt, and he did. People are angry” about the high court’s decisions on both student loan debt and affirmative action for college admissions, but they also know it’s not the president’s fault, Shi adds.
While there was an administration delay in coming up with a plan to counter the Dobbs decision on abortion, now “there seems to be an urgency to show people the administration is taking this very seriously,” Shi says. “That’s’ important for young people to see.”
Biden also used the decision to draw deep lines of distinction with Republicans, who the president noted had no problem voting for – and even receiving themselves – loans under the pandemic-era Paycheck Protection Program. The program provided loans to businesses to help them stay afloat during the pandemic, but borrowers can apply to have the loans forgiven.
Further, Biden said, the GOP during the Trump administration approved $2 trillion in tax cuts without paying for it. But “my program is too expensive?” Biden said incredulously.
“It’s going to take longer,” the president said of the new approach. But “we’re moving as fast as we can.”
Source : usnews