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Taxpayers group asks Supreme Court to block Biden's student debt relief program

Several lawsuits seek to halt implementation, but the Wisconsin-based Brown County Taxpayers Association wants the high court to intervene immediately.
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WASHINGTON — A Wisconsin organization promoting taxpayers rights asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to halt implementation of President Joe Biden's federal student loan forgiveness program, just two days after the administration began accepting online applications for debt relief from borrowers.

The Brown County Taxpayers Association argued in the request for emergency relief that Biden's program would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion and that it circumvents Congress, which controls federal spending.

"The blow to the United States Treasury and taxpayers will be staggering — perhaps costing more than one trillion dollars. If this program goes forward as planned on Sunday, then the President will unilaterally spend roughly 4% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product," the emergency application said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last month that Biden’s plan would cost $400 billion, while the Education Department said the price tag would be closer to $379 billion.

"There is no legal justification for this presidential usurpation of the constitutional spending power, which is reserved exclusively for Congress," the taxpayers association said.

The emergency application was addressed to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who oversees the 7th Circuit, where the group is based. Barrett could decide on the case alone or refer it to the full court for consideration.

The legal filing echoes arguments in other challenges to the administration's program. Lawyers representing a half-dozen Republican-led states sued the Biden administration in federal court last month seeking to block implementation. Earlier, a lawyer who works for a conservative-learning law firm also sued in Indiana to halt the program.

Biden announced Monday that the application for the debt relief was online. In August, he announced that he would cancel up to $10,000 for many borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in the 2020 or 2021 tax years. Pell Grant recipients are eligible for up to $20,000 in relief.

The application period extends through Dec. 31, 2023. The White House is asking borrowers who would like their balances adjusted before loan payments restart in January to apply before Nov. 15.

Asked Monday whether he was worried that litigation could interfere with his plan, Biden said, "Our legal judgment is that it won’t, but they are trying to stop it."