Supreme Court 'Skeptical' Of Student Debt Relief, If You Can Believe That!


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in two cases challenging President Joe Biden's student debt relief plan, and dear readers, we hope you are sitting down for this: The Court's rightwing majority didn't sound very open to the idea that the administration has the authority to forgive student loans, even under the 2003 law that the administration says is designed to allow exactly that. We won't know for sure until the Court rules in the case, probably in June.

If there's any chance for the policy to escape being overturned, it probably hinges on whether the Court decides that the plaintiffs in the two cases have standing to sue at all. If the Court decides they don't, then it won't address the legality of the program either way.

Of course, this being the Alito Court, it's also possible the Supremes will just make shit up and decide that even if the plaintiffs lack standing, some obscure principle pulled from Brett Kavanaugh's beer cooler — if you know what we mean and we're not sure we do — makes it OK to address the merits of the case anyway.

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What Good Arguments Will Supreme Court Ignore In Student Debt Relief Case?

Maybe they'll be persuaded by logic and reason. Maybe monkeys will fly out of Alito's butt.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on the Biden administration's plan to relieve student loan debt by up to $20,000 per borrower. If you want to listen live, audio will be streaming at 10 Eastern. Joe Biden proposed the plan back in August, and various rightwing legal groups immediately went to work finding plaintiffs to sue to stop it, which turned out to be a challenge because to have standing, a plaintiff would have to prove they'd been harmed by a good thing. Eventually, they got lower federal courts to block the program. As a result, not a penny of student debt has yet been forgiven, even for the roughly 16 million folks the Education Department has already approved for debt forgiveness, or for the 10 million other borrowers waiting to have their applications processed.

Under the Biden plan, borrowers could have up to $10,000 of student debt forgiven if they had annual income less than $125,000 (or $250,000 for married folks filing jointly). People who received Pell Grants in college would have up to $20,000 in debt cancelled. The loan forgiveness would be tax free, and 90 percent of the debt relief would go to borrowers making $75,000 a year or less. The proposal was solidly targeted at middle and lower-income borrowers, and what with the $20K in relief for Pell grant recipients, would eliminate student debt for about half of borrowers.

And who knows, maybe the Supremes will decide the program can go forward once it decides the case. We like nice surprises!


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Bret Stephens: Masks Don't Work, Says Science* (*Science Does Not Say This)

Another winner from the New York Times.

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens might've finally (sort of) given up climate denial, but now he's moved on to advancing mask denial. He declares on that stellar op-ed page, "The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Will Be Learned?"

Hold on there, slick. You're assuming a lot of facts in clear disregard of the evidence. A 2021 study in Germany showed that requiring people to wear face masks decreased the daily growth rate of reported COVID-19 cases by more than 40 percent. Widespread mask wearing, as well as social distancing, also led to a sharp drop in flu cases in 2020.

Stephens quotes Tom Jefferson, an Oxford epidemiologist who conducted an analysis of studies about the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses.

"There is just no evidence that they” — masks — “make any difference,” he told the journalist Maryanne Demasi. “Full stop.”

But, wait, hold on. What about N-95 masks, as opposed to lower-quality surgical or cloth masks?

“Makes no difference — none of it,” said Jefferson.

That's weird. It's an opinion that seems to discount basic germ theory. It's why doctors wear masks during surgery.


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2024 presidential election

Defending Your Candidacy

It's your Nikki Haley Sunday show rundown!

If Nikki Haley announced she was running for president in the woods, would anyone hear it?

That's a trick question: Haley announced publicly she was running for president, and it still seems no one heard it. While Politico and Haley herself have been trying to will it into existence, her appearance on "Fox News Sunday" with Shannon Bream is a great indication it's already not going well.

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