They were tortured under Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Snr. Now they fear their stories are being erased
The vast majority of Florida's public school districts closed at least one day this week as the storm made its way across the state.
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Six Republican-led states filed a lawsuit on Thursday aiming to stop tens of millions of student loan borrowers from receiving relief from President Joe Biden’s debt forgiveness plan in one of Republicans’ first legal challenges to the plan.
Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina are suing the Education Department, saying that the plan is too broad and “inherently unfair.” The lawsuit, filed in a Missouri federal court, argues that the plan is not “tailored to address the effects of the pandemic” on borrowers. They argue that loan servicers would also be hurt by the plan, especially MOHELA, Missouri’s student loan servicer and one of the largest student loan servicers in the U.S.
If successful, the suit could halt the plan that would grant up to $20,000 of debt relief to Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for others making less than $125,000 a year.
This lawsuit was expected. Republicans have been warning of their plans to challenge the student debt relief plan, saying that it’s too expensive or that it overreaches the president’s power.
Proponents of student debt forgiveness say, however, that Republicans’ true motives are to keep the middle and lower classes poor or in debt; after all, Republican lawmakers have openly admitted that they oppose the debt forgiveness plan because it would reduce the military’s ability to recruit poor people who couldn’t otherwise afford higher education.
Advocates say that the GOP’s complaints over the cost of the plan are frivolous. Right-wingers have been citing the conservative-led Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate released earlier this week that the plan would cost $400 billion. But they often neglect to mention that the cost would be spread out over the next 30 years and is barely over half of what the U.S. spends on the Pentagon yearly — a cost that Republicans almost never complain about.
The calculation for what revenue student loans may provide for the government may also be overblown; a July report from the Government Accountability Office found that, despite previous estimates, federal student loan borrowing actually costs the government billions of dollars, in part because many borrowers simply can’t afford to pay their loans back.
“Corrupt politicians are doing the student loan industry’s dirty work. A judge will quickly dispose of this sham lawsuit, but we won’t forget,” the Student Borrower Protection Center said on Thursday. “Banks and student lenders — especially MOHELA — want to profit by trapping families in debt. We will hold them accountable.”
“Republicans want to keep you in debt for the rest of your life and take away student debt cancellation,” wrote the Debt Collective on Thursday, in response to the lawsuit. “It is an interesting strategy to adopt before the midterms.”
Indeed, polls have found that the student debt plan is popular. Polls have found that a majority of Americans support the plan and that nearly half of voters say they’re more likely to vote this fall because of the plan that’s likely helped to boost Biden’s approval rating.
This is at least the second lawsuit filed over the plan. Earlier this week, a lawyer for a libertarian law firm, the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed a suit arguing that it would cause him harm because he would be forced to pay state taxes on the cancellation. In a legal filing in response to the lawsuit, Biden administration officials simply said that the lawsuit’s argument is moot because the forgiveness plan gives borrowers an option to opt out of the relief.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman wrote that the attempt to stop student debt forgiveness is “upside-down class war” — a war waged by upper class and elite Republicans against middle- and low-income, Black and Latinx and young people to take away a rare bit of relief given to them by a political system that is designed to sap wealth away from everyday people to fund the 1 percent.
Though the legal challenges to the plan are only in their beginning phrases, the Biden administration already appears to be caving to them.
Reports noted on Thursday that the Department of Education has covertly changed the terms of the forgiveness plan to exclude the roughly 4 million borrowers who have privately held student loans, including those with Perkins loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), despite the fact that earlier iterations of the plan included such borrowers. Legal experts say that the Education Department appears to have made this change in bracing for legal challenges to the plan.
“FFEL lenders have shown their true colors,” the Student Borrower Protection Center wrote on Thursday. “Instead of working in the interest of student loan borrowers — their customers — these lenders are holding hostage relief from millions in order to keep making a buck off of suffering.”
A new book about Donald Trump’s time in the White House showcases that the former president lacks a basic understanding of the constitutional rules surrounding impeachment.
The book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” written by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, contains a number of anecdotes about Trump’s tenure in the White House. Trump’s commentary on his first impeachment trial — which was centered around his attempt in 2019 to coerce Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to find political dirt on now-President Joe Biden in exchange for military assistance from the U.S. — demonstrates his lack of knowledge on the process.
“I’ll just sue Congress. They can’t do this to me,” Trump said at the time, according to Haberman’s book.
The U.S. Constitution doesn’t contain statutory language that allows a federal official to sue Congress in order to stop impeachment.
Haberman’s account of Trump’s comments echoes the former president’s statements months before the hearings began. Although Trump didn’t explicitly state that he would sue to stop a hypothetical impeachment, he did imply that he’d try to use the court system to stall or stop the process.
“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Trump said on Twitter in the spring of that year.
Again, there is no stipulation that allows for the Supreme Court to stop an impeachment from taking place. Indeed, the federal court system is altogether absent from the process, according to the Constitution.
Both Article I and Article II of the Constitution (which deal with Congress and the president, respectively) detail how the process works. Article III, which discusses the federal courts and the Supreme Court, mentions impeachment briefly, but only to say that all criminal trials, save for impeachments, will be decided by juries.
The only time the Supreme Court is involved in a federal impeachment trial is if a president is impeached. Still, that involvement is very limited, as the Constitution simply states that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will preside over the Senate impeachment trial, and do nothing more.
The House votes to impeach the president, and the Senate votes to remove them — the Chief Justice doesn’t play a role in determining the outcome in either house of Congress.
According to Bess Levin, a politics correspondent for Vanity Fair, Trump’s comments from 2019 are still relevant, as they showcase how little he knows about the Constitution and the limits of the presidency.
“Given this man’s apparent ambitions to seek yet another four years in office, it feels necessary, in a fate-of-the-planet kind of way, to make sure every instance of him being a full-on half-wit is recorded for posterity,” Levin wrote in a recent column.
A vote on the long-awaited — and some say direly needed — bill to ban members of Congress from being able to trade individual stocks will likely be delayed until at least after the midterm election in November, sources within House Democratic leadership say, drawing frustration from advocates who have been pushing for the bill to come to a vote for months.
According to Punchbowl News, some sources say that there is “very little chance” that the bill, kept secret by Democratic leadership for months and released this week, will come to a vote before the election.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) has said that it’s likely the bill will not come to a vote this week, missing the estimated time frame for a vote that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) set in a press conference last week. Hoyer is under fire for indicating that he is opposed to the proposal in recent meetings.
Proponents of the legislation have been urging House leaders to bring the bill to a vote since members began introducing their own versions of the proposal early this year. But Democrats had delayed progress on the legislation, despite rare bipartisan support for the proposal, and had even kept the contents of the proposal hidden from lawmakers advocating for the bill until this week.
Now that the text of the legislation has been released, Democratic leaders are facing criticism yet again over elements of the bill that ethics experts say make the bill both overly broad and too weak in its enforcement, either dooming the legislation from the start or making it effectively useless.
In its current form, the bill would ban not only members of Congress but also Supreme Court justices and high-level congressional and executive officials from trading stocks, covering a wider swath of officials than most proposals introduced by lawmakers throughout this year.
Ethics experts say that the judiciary and executive branches should also be barred from trading individual stocks, as the practice brings up potential conflicts of interest. But Project on Government Oversight Senior Ethics Fellow Walter Shaub pointed out on Twitter that including such officials in the ban would be a “poison pill” for the bill, risking Republican opposition and likely dooming its chances in the Senate.
Meanwhile, government watchdogs are also taking issue with the meat of the bill: the mechanism by which government officials would hand off control over their stock portfolios.
The bill would require lawmakers to either divest from their stocks or place them into a blind trust — but the blind trust wouldn’t have to follow existing rules for a blind trust, allowing lawmakers to create a “fake” blind trust like the one used by former President Donald Trump, Shaub said on Twitter.
“Pelosi’s bill would eliminate all of these requirements by authorizing each ethics office to allow anything they want and call it a blind trust. Literally anything,” Shaub wrote in a Twitter thread railing against the bill on Tuesday. With no rules for what qualifies as a blind trust, experts say that lawmakers could essentially still trade stocks, but do so even more secretively than before.
“There’s plenty of reason to be concerned about throwing out the current strict uniform standard for blind trusts across the government,” Shaub continued. “For one thing, the House and Senate ethics committees are notoriously loose. They’ve spent the last ten years not enforcing the STOCK Act.”
Proponents of the stock ban have suggested that Democratic leaders may have purposefully introduced a bill that is far from what other lawmakers have proposed because they oppose it.
Pelosi, whose husband is a prolific stock trader, has previously expressed her opposition to the proposal. Hoyer indicated in meetings recently that he is intending on voting against the bill when it comes to the floor. And House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-California), who wrote the bill, had reportedly cooled on the idea after the committee held a hearing on it earlier this year.
Scientists took a dozen research flights over major U.S. oil and gas fields to sample flare emissions. They found more methane than was supposed to be there.
(Image credit: Eric Gay/AP)