D.C. Memo: Biden finally acts on student loans, Twin Metals sues, progressives have mixed record in primaries


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden made this week a long-awaited announcement regarding student debt after taking a vacation to Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach.

Biden announced that the administration would extend the current pause on student loans repayment until the end of the year. It also announced a new program which would forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt for borrowers whose annual income is below $125,000.

President Obama used his executive power to suggest that students who qualify would be able to have their debt forgiven up to $10,000. Pell Grant recipients could be eligible for an additional $10,000 in debt cancellation. However, loans made after June 30 will not be eligible for relief.

In a tweet, the president stated that “In keeping with My Campaign Promise, my Administration is announcing an plan to give working-class families breathing space as they prepare for federal student loan payments to resume in January 2023,” and provided details.

Biden stated that undergraduate loan holders would be allowed to set their monthly payments at 5% of their income. The current payment limit is 10% of the borrower’s discretionary earnings.

Biden’s plan was immediately attacked by Republicans as being inflationary. Some Democrats also said that it would not be enough to reduce student debt, particularly for low-income minorities.

“While partial cancellation is a significant step, it’s still not enough,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-5 ), said in a statement. My district is currently held back by student debt. This prevents thousands from becoming homeowners, starting businesses, saving for the future, and even starting families. All borrowers will be able to achieve economic dignity if student debt is completely cancelled.

Some moderate Democrats also criticized the plan, claiming that it did not address the problem of college tuition costs. Others Democratic lawmakers representing swing states and districts shared Republican criticisms that Biden’s plan would unfairly make taxpayers pay for student loan cancellations.

The Education Data Initiative ranks Minnesota 33 rd out of all the states (and the District of Columbia, which ranks 1 t) for student loan debt. It is 33,604.

Additional statistics:

  • The total student loan debt owed by state residents is $26.5 billion.
  • Minnesota has 788,600 student borrowers
  • 8 % of them are younger than 35.
  • 88% of residents in the state have student loan debt.

Progressives have mixed records in primary

New York’s primaries showed that moderate Democrats won the election over progressives on Tuesday, indicating that the left-wing of the party lost some of its original energy.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-18 th) defeated progressive primary challenger state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who had the support of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, by more than 20 percentage points in that Empire State primary.

Dan Goldman (an ex-Trump impeachment counsel) defeated three progressive rivals in the race to New York’s 10th district.

On Tuesday in Florida, Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist defeated Nikki Fried, Florida’s progressive Agriculture Commissioner, easily defeating him in the Democratic primary. This determined who would be running against GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis will be running in the fall.

Tuesday’s primaries were last major before November’s election.

Progressive candidates also lost in previous primary contests. Texas’ progressive Jessica Cisneros lost a close race to Rep. Henry Cuellar in the runoff. Cuellar is the House’s last anti-abortion Democrat. Progressive Nina Turner lost her primary race for a rematch against Shontel Brown (D-Ohio), and former Rep. Donna Edwards in Maryland was defeated by Glen Ivey who is a more centrist candidate.

In Minnesota’s DFL Primary, Rep. Betsy McCollum easily defeated a challenger from the left in the 4 Districts by Amane Badhasso. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the “Squad”, narrowly beat Don Samuels, an ore centrist rival, by just 2.5 percentage points. This is a surprising result considering Omar easily defeated previous rivals in 5th.

However, progressives have won some races this year. On Tuesday in Florida, Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a progressive 25-year old, won the primary race for a House seat that was being vacated from Val Demings (who’s running for Senate). Frost would become the first member from Generation Z to the Congress if he wins the general election.

Twin Metals hires Biden administration to represent

This week, the latest chapter of the long-running drama over the fate and plans for Twin Metals’ copper and nickel mine was completed when the mining company sued Biden Administration over the cancellation leases in Rainy River Watershed.

In January, the Biden administration canceled the leases due to concerns that the underground mine could pollute a major recreational waterway in northeastern Minnesota.

It is very difficult to sue the federal government because it is protected by sovereign immunity. Twin Metals and Franconia Minerals, its subsidiary, have taken aim at the Interior Department’s top officials and claimed the “arbitrary and capricious” evisceration Twin Metals’ mineral rights.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C., and stated that Twin Metals “redoubled their efforts to develop a state of the-art, environmentally-sound mine” after Trump’s approval of the leases.

The revocation of leases was deemed “an illegal attempt to rewrite policy decisions that Congress made about the proper balance of environmental concerns and the availability for mining on public lands.”

The lawsuit was filed at the same time that the U.S. Forest Service was preparing to issue a final recommendation for the Interior Department regarding a proposed moratorium mining in 225 378 acres of Superior National Forest. This forest is located in the Rainy River watershed, which feeds the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

Becky Rom, the national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters (a coalition of around 400 environmental groups), stated that those opposing the construction of an underground mine within the watershed will join the federal government to fight the lawsuit and request it to be rejected by the court.

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

Rom stated that she believed Twin Metals had filed the lawsuit in order to keep the leases issue alive through the 2024 presidential elections. This was in the hope that a Republican win would allow the mining company to renew their leases.

Poll: Americans Concerned About ‘Threats To Democracy’

A NBC News poll this week revealed that 68% Americans think the country is in recession. Half of the poll respondents believe that things will worsen before they improve. Biden’s overall approval ratings remain low (42% approve, 55% disagree). However, the president’s economic ratings have improved a bit. 40% of poll respondents said that they approve of how the president manages the economy, while 56% disapprove.

This poll was surprised by Congress’ Jan. 6 hearings about the assault on the U.S. Capitol or the controversy surrounding former President Trump’s handling classified documents that the FBI retrieved at Mar-a-Lago. (The New York Times reported 300 pages of classified documents had been retrieved. However, Trump supporters claim the seizure was illegal.

According to NBC, “threats against democracy” was the most important issue among voters. It was followed by the cost and quality of life, job and economic opportunities, and immigration.

Minnesota: D.C. abandoned

Washington, D.C., which was once a sleepy Southern city, has returned to its former self this week. The lawmakers are now back in their states, and the bureaucrats and residents of Washington are enjoying a vacation at the beach before school starts. The Beltway is now open for driving.

I will also be leaving Washington to visit Minnesota, where I will attend the State Fair. (I was told that food is served on sticks at the Fair). I am sure I will look lost.

If anyone has any tips for me on where to go and what to eat at the Fair of the Twin Cities, please let me know. I regret not having been able to spend more time in Minnesota or visit more parts of the state. However, I do hope that there will be another time. All information will be very appreciated.

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