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The White House stops short of canceling student loan debt
But it will extend the pause on payments through the end of August though.
Student loan borrowers will receive another lifeline as the White House is expected to extend a freeze on payments through August 31.
The timing of the news is unsurprising when you consider the current pause expires next month so the administration would have had to make an announcement regardless of its decision.
What seems a bit more striking is that the next extension will expire roughly two months before voters head to the polls this November to determine which party will hold congressional majorities for the next two years.
If the administration is unsure of its long-term resolution, the obvious political calculus would be to push the extension beyond the next election so it’s not a campaign issue.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to confirm the news on Tuesday but said the administration considers the needs of the people who are impacted by student loan payments as they make their assessments.
“I would note that no one has been required to pay a single dime of federal student loans since the president took office,” Psaki said.
Hanna Trudo and Alex Gangitano at The Hill were the first to report the administration’s plan to extend the pause.
President Biden promised during the 2020 presidential campaign to cancel at least $10,000 in student loan debt if he won.
There weren’t any explicit caveats to the commitment. But after he assumed office, the White House moved the goalposts and said Biden would sign a bill from Congress into law that canceled the debt — instead of doing so by executive order.
But progressive Democrats are frustrated with this approach for two reasons.
The first is because they believe the White House knows there aren’t enough votes in Congress to fulfill his promise.
After all, Congress is currently gridlocked on what would appear to be consensus issues like passing emergency COVID funding and severing the US trade relationship with Russia.
And secondly: The same Democrats feel as though Biden has been too cautious to flex his presidential power to advance popular policies that could make or break turnout to the polls this fall.
Just last week, congressional Democrats sent a letter asking Biden to extend the pause through the rest of the year and cancel student debt. (It’s at least the fifth letter of its kind to the administration since the president took office.)
White House officials say the politics of the issue are much more complicated than a viral tweet or soundbite can capture though.
They argue that legislation is more enduring than executive action. And the nature of governing — especially with razor-thin Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate — requires both sides to compromise to reach a deal.
But this comes off as moralism to critics and feels to them like political malpractice to fail to even demonstrate a willingness to go as far as you can within the authority of your office.
Not to mention, you know you’re screwed as an administration when your decisions piss off members from both parties.
Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton, an ultra-conservative politician with 2024 presidential ambitions, also pounced on the chance to denounce the decision.
“President Biden’s perpetual student loan payment moratorium is an insult to every American who responsibly paid debts,” Cotton tweeted. “There’s no free lunch: This reckless move puts taxpayers on the hooks for billions.”
This energy was missing in action when the senator voted for the 2017 Trump tax cuts that added $2 trillion to the federal debt but I digress.
Until the White House announces a permanent resolution, this will continue to nip at its heels and drown out the accomplishments it thinks it should be rewarded for. And to be sure, there are several.
But in the meantime, at least the borrowers who still feel squeezed by historic inflation and a disruptive pandemic will receive a reprieve for at least a few more months.
Further reading: “This new study on student loan debt is kinda depressing”
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Today in Politics
President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing. He will then speak at the North America’s Building Trades Union Legislative Conference. The president this afternoon will sign the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022.
Vice President Harris this afternoon will ceremonially swear in Randi Charno to be the US ambassador to Portugal.
The House is in and will consider a resolution to find two former aides to Donald Trump with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas by the House January 6th Committee.
The Senate is in and will continue consideration of a COVID-19 emergency funding bill and the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
In the Know
The brother of the first suspect was taken into custody in connection to a mass shooting in Sacramento this past weekend has been arrested. The 27-year-old was immediately identified as a person of interest at a hospital where he was receiving treatment for serious gun injuries. Another suspect was arrested on a gun possession charge after he was seen carrying a firearm after the shooting. (David K. Li / NBC News)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced an additional $100 million in security assistance for Ukraine. The US has committed more than $2.4 billion to Ukraine since the beginning of this Biden administration and more than $1.7 billion since Russia started its war.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine discussed the allegations of war crimes committed by Russia during an address to the United Nations Security Council. He called for a thorough accounting of Russian military forces' behavior in the wake of the discovery of executions and mass graves. (Dustin Jones / NPR)
The European Commission proposed a new set of sanctions against Russia that would ban coal imports and could soon ban Russian oil altogether. The White House said it would be announcing an additional round of sanctions this week. (Matina Stevis-Gridneff / NYT)
The US successfully tested a hypersonic missile last but kept it quiet for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia. The test was before President Biden traveled to Europe and came days after Russia says it used its own hypersonic missile during its invasion of Ukraine. (Oren Liebermann / CNN)
The Department of Health and Human Services is leading the development of an interagency national research action plan on long COVID. Millions of individuals continue to experience the condition, which shows up in lasting symptoms that can persist long after the acute COVID-19 infection has resolved, can manifest in anyone who has had COVID-19 often looks like those associated with other chronic medical conditions.
The Justice Department announced guidance on protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act for people with opioid use disorder who are in treatment or recovery, including those who take medication to treat their OUD. “People who have stopped illegally using drugs should not face discrimination when accessing evidence-based treatment or continuing on their path of recovery,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “The Justice Department is committed to using federal civil rights laws such as the ADA to safeguard people with opioid use disorder from facing discriminatory barriers as they move forward with their lives.”
The FBI has contracted 5,000 licenses of a social media monitoring software. The contract began on March 30, is worth as much as $27 million and has raised concerns for privacy and civil liberties advocates. (Aaron Schaffer / WaPo)
New Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz said the coffee chain will suspend its share repurchase program. Schultz, who led Starbucks for more than three decades and is rumored to have been brought back to help the company fight a rising worker rights campaign, said the decision is motivated by a desire to invest those dollars into workers. (AP via CBS News)
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas said in a reelection campaign email that replicating the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” Florida law and regulating school libraries will be a key priority for his office. The email included some 80 policy proposals he wants state lawmakers to study before the next legislative session. (Talia Richman / The Dallas Morning News)
Related: Ohio House Republicans introduced an education bill similar to Florida’s “Don't Say Gay” bill. The bill also targets what it calls “divisive” education about race, banning lessons about topics like critical race theory and The New York Times’ “1619 Project.” (Zoe Christen Jones / CBS News)
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams reached millionaire status before launching her second campaign for the state’s top office. Her first bid was marred with Republican attacks on her personal debt but thanks to book sales and speaking fees, she is now worth over $3 million. (Jeff Amy / AP News)
Twitter announced it will finally test an edit button. The company said it’s been developing the highly requested (and highly controversial) feature for a year. (@TwitterComms / Twitter
Read All About It
Arianne Cohen on how to get more women into leadership roles:
The best way to narrow the gap would be to rethink the way people get promoted.
Getting a promotion or taking a leadership role requires putting yourself forward, even though raising one’s hand has little bearing on capability. “It selects people who are confident and think they’re so good—and don’t mind sending a signal of competitiveness,” says Xiao.
In most organizations, opting in is the main determinant for being considered for a role. But women often undervalue their own skills. Some come from cultures that teach them not to be assertive; many fear seeming aggressive, which can backfire if they’re not chosen; and busy caretakers frequently lack the bandwidth to apply. Just as significant, many women, when envisioning a leader, still see a man.
Andrew Solomon on the mystifying rise of child suicide:
Although it is too early to quantify fully the long-term impact of the pandemic, it has exacerbated the burgeoning crisis. The C.D.C. found that in 2020 mental-health-related visits to hospital emergency departments by people between the ages of twelve and twenty-seven were a third higher than in 2019. The C.D.C. also reported that, during the first seven months of lockdown, U.S. hospitals experienced a twenty-four-per-cent increase in mental-health-related emergency visits for children aged five to eleven, and a thirty-one-per-cent increase for those aged twelve to seventeen. Among the general population, suicides declined, but this change masks a slight increase among younger people and a spike among the country’s Black, Latinx, and Native American populations. Last October, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared that the pandemic had accelerated the worrying trends in child and adolescent mental health, resulting in what it described as a “national emergency.”
The sooner depressed or suicidal children receive treatment, the more likely they are to recover, but children remain radically undertreated. There are too few child psychologists and psychiatrists, and most pediatricians are insufficiently informed about depression. Research suggests that only one out of five American adolescents who end up in a hospital after attempting suicide is transferred to a mental-health facility, and access is predictably worse among the poor and in communities of color. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, of the three million American adolescents who experienced major depression in 2020, almost two-thirds received no treatment.
Dorothy E. Roberts on why child protective services need to be abolished:
You might be asking yourself: Is this not evidence of excessive child maltreatment? I’ll come back to that, but for starters, it indicates that America is doing a poor job of promoting children’s welfare. What ties together the families involved in the child welfare system is that they are disfranchised by some aspect of political inequality—whether race, gender, class, disability, or immigration status. The chances of affluent white parents getting on the CPS radar are relatively minuscule. The rare cases of their children being removed from the home are either extremely egregious or challenged by their well-paid attorneys in court as erroneous.
Yes, some parents do abuse their children, and in some relatively rare cases, the only available recourse is to remove children from the home. But the facade of benevolence makes most Americans complacent about a colossal government apparatus that spends billions of dollars annually on surveilling families, breaking them apart, and thrusting children into a foster care system known to cause devastating harms. Even when President Trump’s cruel policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border drew national condemnation, hardly anyone connected it to the far more widespread family separation that takes place every day in Black neighborhoods. Besides hiding the trauma inflicted on families, the state’s fictitious compassion serves a crucial political purpose: blaming the most marginalized parents for the impact of race, class, and gender inequalities on their children, obscuring those unequal structures and the need to dismantle them.
Roxanna Asgarian on how Texas became the most virulently anti-trans state in America:
Governor Abbott, who like all Republicans in deep-red states is wary of being outflanked from the right, saw gender-affirming care as a logical next target. “It’s a complete disregard, disrespect, and dangerous salvo on these families to score political points. I mean, that’s all it is. He doesn’t care,” Francis said. “It was done to create a confusion that I think comes directly from the abortion playbook of empowering local vigilantes to take out anyone that doesn’t fit in their worldview,” he added, referring to Senate Bill 8, the 2021 Texas law that empowers third parties to sue abortion providers. It remains to be seen whether the courts will agree. The Texas Supreme Court will soon rule on whether the injunction against the directive will stand. If it falls, investigations of families with trans children will resume.
Zoë Heller on how everyone got so lonely:
Sociologists who are skeptical about whether loneliness is a growing problem argue that much modern aloneness is a happy, chosen condition. In this view, the vast increase in the number of single-person households in the U.S. over the past fifty years has been driven, more than anything, by affluence, and in particular by the greater economic independence of women. A similarly rosy story of female advancement can be told about the sex-decline data: far from indicating young people’s worrisome retreat from intimacy, the findings are a testament to women’s growing agency in sexual matters. In a recent interview, Stephanie Coontz, a veteran historian of family, said, “The decline in sexual frequency probably reflects women’s increased ability to say no and men’s increased consideration for them.”
Dan Moore on what cities lose when they lose pro sports teams:
In spite of how easy it can be to despise team owners, pro sports occupy rarefied air in American society. They remain perhaps the last public-private institution capable of transcending partisan divides at scale, and they inspire a kind of devotion that few enterprises match; as Mark Cuban once put it, “no city has ever thrown a parade for a local company that has had a great quarter or year.”
It’s not exactly rare for sports teams to relocate. From Brooklyn to Baltimore, San Diego to Seattle, American sports history is littered with the stories of franchise owners who abandoned cities their teams were once assumed fundamental to—and left fans disillusioned and unmoored in their wake.
Pro teams also support opportunities for creating and sustaining relationships. Shared love for a team creates continuities—threads of connective tissue that not only bridge class, communal, and cultural dichotomies, but also connect generational divides.
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