We’ve made it to 2023, nearly three years since the pandemic hit the United States in full force. The virus is less deadly, we have effective vaccines and life is pretty much back to normal for most of us.
If you’re President Joe Biden, however, the COVID-19 “emergency” is still front and center.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Biden actually believes we are still in a state of emergency. He admitted as much in September when he declared the pandemic was “over.”
Yet the president and his administration have enjoyed the extra powers that have accompanied the national emergency declaration. And they are working hard to cling to this authority, which has granted the executive branch broader control over our lives.
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While the country has been distracted with the classified documents that keep popping up in Biden’s office, garage (near his treasured Corvette) and home, the administration continues its crusade to convince the courts the country remains in a state of emergency.
Biden still obsessed with debt ‘cancellation’
Here are two examples.
First, the Biden administration won’t give up on its plan to “forgive” hundreds of billions of dollars of federal student loan debt. Biden did this through executive action – with the national emergency over COVID-19 as the rationale. Several courts have found that Biden’s order is an unconstitutional overreach, and the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up two cases and plans to hear arguments next month.
While loan forgiveness is on hold, Biden hasn’t stopped meddling in student debt, separating personal responsibility from borrowing decisions. In November, the administration once again extended the pause on student repayments, even after saying repeatedly it wouldn’t do so.
And this month, it issued a proposed rule for income-driven loan repayments. If Biden gets his way with debt cancellation, along with these other measures, the cost to taxpayers will balloon to as much as $600 billion – debt that the country can’t afford.
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The Education Department calls efforts to block the forgiveness “callous” and claims the legal fight has created “financial uncertainty” for borrowers.
If anyone has created uncertainty, it’s the Biden administration and its illegal actions.
Biden wants a return of masks on planes. Really?
Second, the administration was in court this week grappling to reinstate the federal mask mandate for airplanes and other transportation. That order was struck down in April by a federal judge in Florida to the relief of the airlines and most travelers.
Yet the Biden Justice Department is arguing that the administration does hold the authority to require masks in the name of public health and that it’s an “important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve.”
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I have a feeling many Americans would disagree. Unless you’re a student at Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan or visiting a doctor’s office, masks are no longer part of most Americans’ daily lives. So why is the administration fighting for them?
It’s all about power.
End the emergency, already
The courts have already shot down other Biden emergency-related mandates, including COVID-19 vaccine requirements at private businesses and extended eviction bans. The fate of these latest measures isn’t looking good either.
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Next month, Biden will again consider whether to extend the COVID national emergency declaration that has existed since early 2020. Congress has signaled it’s ready for it to end. In November, the Senate – including 12 Democrats – passed a resolution calling for a termination of the emergency. Now that Republicans hold the House, expect that chamber to join in.
It’s long past time for Biden to end the national emergency and give up the tremendous powers that go along with it.
Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques