I-Team 8

Suit: Indiana man will be forced to spend more with Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Frank Garrison will get up to $20,000 eliminated for his student loans through President Biden’s plan. However, a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Education states it will end up costing him more money.

“He’s actually going to just get $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 is described as a public interest attorney who lives in Indiana. He’s employed by Pacific Legal, the non-profit group representing him in the lawsuit and the same place Poon works. Poon says that in four years, Garrison will qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. It means he will end up having the same amount of money forgiven. However, Poon said that due to Indiana taxing loan forgiveness as 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.

Poon says the main argument in the lawsuit is that the Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and his agency acted unconstitutionally.

“On the constitutional side, what this law is saying is the secretary of education is authorized to essentially repeal statutory provisions right to waive or modify statutory provisions and then amend them with his own terms and conditions is what the statute allows. So that’s just straight out lawmaking,” he says. “Lawmaking is reserved for Congress. And for good reason.”

Cardona has said he has the legal authority to cancel debt for people who faced hardship during the pandemic. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said anyone will be able to opt out of the cancellation. However, it is not clear how that will happen yet.

“Congress can’t then tell the executive branch, ‘Oh, but in certain circumstances, you can just ignore the law,’” Poon said.

Nevertheless, questions have come to light about the firms political ties. The firm currently accepts donations from right-wing billionaire, Charles Koch.

“I can’t comment on who our donors are or what they have given or anything like that. But what I can say is, I would ask those people to look at our work, we’ve consistently been trying to hold the government accountable across administrations across political parties,” Poon said. “I really don’t think this is a partisan issue. I think this is an issue of the separation of powers and how we’re supposed to be able to govern ourselves.”

Indiana, along with five other states, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas and North Carolina, will tax loan forgiveness as income. I-Team 8 asked Poon if there is anyone else they plan to add to the lawsuit and they said Garrison is currently the only plaintiff.

Garrison declined to comment for this story.