White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is terrible at her job. But in her defense, look what she has to work with, and who she works for.
On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre attempted to rewrite history from less than 72 hours earlier.
On “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, President Joe Biden said twice in a matter of seconds that the COVID-19 pandemic was over.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it,” Biden told “60 minutes.”
On MSNBC on Wednesday, Jean-Pierre suggested Biden was distracted by all those shiny new cars at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
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“Just to step back for a second, what we saw during that interview, that ’60 Minutes’ interview when he made those comments: He was walking through the Detroit Car Show, the halls of the Detroit Car Show, and he was looking around,” she said.
“We have to remember the last time that they had held that event was three years ago…. So we are in a different time. He’s been very consistent about that.”
Biden, she added, meant to say that the pandemic is more “manageable” now, and “not as disruptive” as in the past.
One group that is desperately hoping people buy Jean-Pierre’s spin is those with college loans.
As the conservative website JustTheNews.com, or JTN, reported on Tuesday, Biden’s declaration about the end of the pandemic “may have unintentionally undercut his administration’s legal argument justifying his ambitious student loan forgiveness plan, which critics argue is an illegal constitutional overreach.”
Recall that Biden cited COVID-19 as the rationale to unilaterally erase up to $10,000 of federal student loan debt for those borrowers making less than $125,000 per year, as well as up to $20,000 for those who got Pell Grants.
The University of Pennsylvania has projected that the move could shift up to $1 trillion from borrowers to all taxpayers.
Biden for once eschewed his executive-order pen and instead invoked the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students, or HEROES, Act. That law, however, was intended to help borrowers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It allowed for loan forgiveness because of war or national emergencies.
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The 2-year-old pandemic was a national emergency, the administration said.
Yet if it’s over, so is the emergency, experts told JTN.
“The president has declared the pandemic over,” Reed Rubinstein, once the acting general counsel of the U.S. Education Department, told JTN.
“Accordingly, the administration’s pretextual ‘national emergency’ has ended. Therefore, the HEROES Act cannot possibly apply. What the administration is doing is now, by its own admission, utterly lawless.”
John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, added, “The only ground Biden asserted for forgiving student loans — a dubious claim — was the alleged COVID-19 emergency.”
“But that emergency has now ended, according to Biden, while to my knowledge no student loans have yet been forgiven. The administration will argue that student borrowers suffered losses because of the pandemic, and the HEROES Act authorizes making up for those losses even though the emergency is now over. Whether the courts will accept the administration’s rationale is doubtful.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Free Press.