A taxpayer advocate group that was granted a meeting with the Obama administration last Friday to discuss a student loan regulation that could cost upwards of $43 billion was met with silence when it questioned the approval process for the plan.
The new regulation from the Department of Education, which would discharge student loan debt for borrowers claiming any misrepresentation, is estimated by the agency to cost taxpayers anywhere between $2 billion and $43 billion. Taxpayer advocates requested the meeting with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to get answers about how the agency could possibly approve such an impactful regulation without receiving a more precise cost analysis.
Phil Kerpen, who met with OIRA on Friday, said on Tuesday that all of his questions regarding the regulation went unanswered by either the OIRA representative in the room or White House and Department of Education representatives that were participating in the meeting by phone.
Kerpen said that he peppered OIRA with questions such as whether it had conducted a thorough analysis of the regulation, but that all the questions were met with silence.
"The nice staffer sat there and she said nothing," said Kerpen in a memo that details the issues he raised during the meeting.
After Kerpen told OIRA that he "really would like to know what to tell my members," he was informed by the previously silent staffer that she was "just here to listen."
Among the concerns raised by Kerpen was that OIRA was not conducting a thorough enough review of the regulation because it is a top priority of President Obama.
Susan Dudley, a former top administrator for OIRA, told the Washington Free Beacon last week that "when the president’s priorities and good government analysis conflict, most of the time the president’s priorities will win."
Dudley also said that the "huge range" in the Department of Education's cost estimate "is a sign that they haven’t done rigorous analysis."
Kerpen voiced concern in the memo that the regulation will be finalized in the coming weeks and that it will fall on Congress to block the attempted student loan bailout.