DC Memo: Biden finally acts on student loans, Twin Metals sues, Progressives have mixed record in primaries


WASHINGTON — After taking a short vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, President Joe Biden made a long-awaited announcement on student debt this week.

The Biden administration would extend its current pause on student loan repayments through the end of the year and announced a new program that would forgive up to $20,000 in student debt for borrowers with incomes below 125 $000 per year.

The president has used his executive authority to propose that qualified students get up to $10,000 in debt forgiven. Those who received Pell Grants may be eligible for an additional $10,000 cancellation. But loans obtained after June 30 are not eligible for the relief.

“As part of my campaign promise, my administration is announcing a plan to give working and middle-class families breathing room as they prepare to resume federal student loan payments in January 2023,” the president said. in a Twitter post outlining the details of his schedule.

Biden also said those with undergraduate loans could cap their payments at 5% of their monthly income. The current payment cap is generally 10% of a borrower’s discretionary income.

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Republicans immediately criticized Biden’s plan as inflationary. Meanwhile, some Democrats have said it won’t go far enough to help those with crippling student debt, especially low-income minorities.

“While this partial cancellation is an important step, it is not enough,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-5.e, in a report. “Right now, student debt is preventing thousands of people in my district from owning a home, starting a business, starting a family or saving for the future. Complete cancellation of student debt will ensure that all borrowers can achieve economic dignity.

Meanwhile, some moderate Democrats criticized the plan, saying it would not solve the systemic problem of the high cost of college education. Other Democratic lawmakers from swing states and districts echoed Republican complaints that Biden’s plan would unfairly force taxpayers who paid off their student loans and those who didn’t attend college to pay for cancellations. student loans.

According to the Education Data Initiative, Minnesota ranks 33rd between the states and the District of Columbia (which ranks 1st) in the average amount of student debt, which is $33,604.

Other statistics:

  • Residents of the state owe a total of $26.5 billion in student loan debt.
  • 788,600 student borrowers live in Minnesota.
  • 8% of them are under 35 years old.
  • 8% of state residents have student loan debt.

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Progressives have a mixed record in the primaries

New York’s primaries on Tuesday showed continued victories by more moderate Democrats over progressives, with the party’s left wing losing some of its earlier momentum.

In this Empire State primary, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-18ebeat Senator Alessandra Biaggi – who had the support of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – by more than 20 points.

And Dan Goldman, a former Trump impeachment lawyer, defeated three progressive rivals – State Assemblyman Yuh-Line Niou, Rep. Mondaire Jones and New York City Council member Carlina Rivera, in the race for New York’s 10th district.

On Tuesday in Florida, Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who was once the state’s Republican governor, easily beat far more progressive Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the Democratic primary that determined who would run against the GOP Governor Ron DeSantis in the fall.

Tuesday’s primaries were the last big ones before the November election.

Progressive candidates have also lost in previous primary contests. In Texas, progressive Jessica Cisneros lost an extremely close second-round race to Rep. Henry Cuellar, who is the latest anti-abortion Democrat to sit in the House. Progressive Nina Turner lost her rematch primary race to more moderate Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, and in Maryland, former Rep. Donna Edwards was beaten by Glen Ivey, a more centrist candidate.

Earlier this month in Minnesota’s DFL primary, Rep. Betsy McCollum easily brushed off a challenge from the left in the state’s 4.e Neighborhood by Amane Badhasso. Meanwhile, ‘Squad’ member Ilhan Omar narrowly beat centrist rival Don Samuels by just around 2.5 percentage points, a surprise as Omar easily knocked out his previous rivals in the 5th.

Progressives have had some victories this year, however. For example, in Florida on Tuesday, 25-year-old progressive Maxwell Alejandro Frost won a primary race for a House seat vacated by Rep. Val Demings, who is running for the Senate. If Frost wins the general election, he will be the first Gen Z congressman.

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Twin Metals sues the Biden administration

The latest chapter in the long saga over the fate of a proposed Twin Metals copper and nickel mine continued this week when the mining company sued the Biden administration over the cancellation of leases in the watershed of Rainy River.

The leases were canceled by the Biden administration in January over concerns the new underground mine could contaminate an important recreational waterway, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeast Minnesota.

It is difficult to successfully sue the federal government, which is protected by sovereign immunity. Yet Twin Metals and its subsidiary Franconia Minerals have targeted the Home Office and its top officials, alleging “the arbitrary, capricious and unlawful gutting of Twin Metals’ mineral rights”.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the lawsuit said that after the Trump administration approved the leases, Twin Metals “doubled down on its efforts to advance a state-of-the-art mine and respectful of the environment”.

He called the revocation of the leases “nothing less than an illegal attempt to rewrite the policy choices Congress has made regarding the proper balance between environmental concerns and the availability of mining on public lands.”

The lawsuit was filed as the U.S. Forest Service prepares to issue a final recommendation to the Department of the Interior regarding a proposed mining moratorium in 225,378 acres of the Upper National Forest, which is located in the basin. slope of Rainy River which feeds the Boundary Waters Wilderness region.

Becky Rom, national chair of the Campaign to Save Boundary Waters, a coalition of about 400 environmental groups, said those who oppose the creation of an underground mine in the watershed will join the federal government in fighting against the lawsuit and ask that it be dismissed by the court.

“It’s definitely a political complaint,” Rom said. “They don’t have a leg to stand on.”

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Rom also said she believes Twin Metals has taken legal action to keep the lease issue alive until the 2024 presidential election, hoping a Republican victory will give the mining company a boost. chance to renew its leases.

Poll: Americans worried about ‘threats to democracy’

An NBC News poll released this week showed that 68% of Americans think the country is in a recession. At least 50% of those polled said things will get worse economically before they get better, and Biden’s overall approval ratings are still deeply underwater (42% approve, 55% disapprove). But the president’s ratings on the economy improved slightly — 40% of those polled said they approved of the president’s handling of the economy, while 56% said they disapproved.

The poll revealed something much more surprising, perhaps due to the January 6 congressional hearings on the storming of the US Capitol, or the controversy over former President Trump’s handling of classified documents that the FBI picked up at Mar-a-Lago. (The New York Times reported that 300 pages of classified documents were recovered, but Trump supporters say the seizure was illegal.)

The NBC poll said “threats to democracy” became the top issue for voters, followed by the cost of living, jobs and economy, and immigration.

Ditch DC for Minnesota

This week Washington, DC is back to what it was when I was a kid, a sleepy Southern town. Lawmakers are back in their states and bureaucrats and other residents are vacationing at the beach or elsewhere before the kids go back to school. You can actually drive the Beltway now.

I leave Washington, too, to visit Minnesota and attend, for the first time, the State Fair (I am told that the food is served there on sticks!). I expect to look a little lost.

So if anyone wants to give me some tips on what to see (and eat) at the Twin Cities Area Fair, feel free. My only regret is not being able to spend more time in Minnesota and see more of the state. But hopefully there will be a next time, so any info will be greatly appreciated!


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