INDIANAPOLIS — A Hoosier lawyer is suing the US Department of Education over President Biden’s plan to cancel the student loan debt for thousands of Americans.
Frank Garrison works for Pacific Legal, which is a non-profit law firm that is also representing him in the case. Michael Poon is his lawyer from Pacific Legal. Poon tells WISH-TV the lawsuit is based on claims that the program will actually hurt people like Garrison.
“He’s actually going to just get a $1,000 tax bill extra in April, but he’s not going to get any benefit out of this,” explains Michael Poon, one of Garrison’s attorneys on the case. “We’re asking the court to do is to stop the student loan forgiveness program.”
Garrison qualifies for $20,000 in student debt forgiveness under the program. But, Garrison argues that he will qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. He says Biden’s plan will end up costing him rather than benefiting him since Indiana deems student loan forgiveness taxable income.
Garrison will end up having to pay the one-time payment of $1,000.
“It’s a little presumptuous to think, well, people can surely afford $1,000,” Poon said.
The lawsuit argues that since the plan is technically originating from the Department of Education that the DOE is acting unconstitutionally. In a nutshell, he said the DOE is essentially circumventing the law and creating new laws without input from Congress.
“Lawmaking is reserved for Congress,” Poon said. “And, for good reason. Congress is actually forbidden from giving lawmaking powers to the executive because of that.”
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says he does have the authority to cancel student debt. The White House adds that people will be able to opt-out of the forgiveness program, although how that would work has not been made clear yet.
The motive behind the lawsuit has been called into question, though. Pacific Legal is a law firm that accepts donations from wealthy donors on the political right. Poon would not comment on their donors but said that he doesn’t believe this to be a partisan issue.