Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Forgive Us Our…Loans?

Forgive Us Our…Loans?

Plus: House speaker battles, a Jesus-themed Trump courtroom sketch, Eric Adams’ travel plans, and more…


Biden’s revisionist history: This week, President Joe Biden announced he would cancel an additional $9 billion in student loan debt. This consists of “$5.2 billion in additional debt relief for 53,000 borrowers under Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs,” per a White House statement, “$2.8 billion in new debt relief for nearly 51,000 borrowers through fixes to income-driven repayment,” and “$1.2 billion for nearly 22,000 borrowers who have a total or permanent disability.”

In June, the Supreme Court struck down his earlier plan to void $400 billion worth of student debt for some 43 million borrowers: $10,000 in debt (or $20,000 in debt for those who received Pell grants) for individuals making under $125,000 and households making under $250,000.

“The money was literally about to go out the door, but Republican elected officials and special interests stepped up and sued us,” Biden commented Wednesday. “The Supreme Court sided with them, snatching from the hands of millions of Americans thousands of dollars in student debt relief that was about to change their lives.”

This is some wild revisionist history (special interests?) that attempts to obscure the unconstitutionality of his actions. The Supreme Court ruled that Biden’s attempt to push student loan forgiveness through via the HEROES Act—which gave the Education Department the power to modify repayments of loans for people who “suffered direct economic hardship as a direct result of a war or other military operation or national emergency”—was not legal; citing COVID-19 as the qualifying “national emergency” did not fly, and such loan forgiveness would need to be passed through Congress, not unilaterally carried out by the executive.

“While higher education—and particularly graduate school—is too expensive for many students, loan forgiveness does nothing to address the root cause of inflated college tuition,” wrote Reason‘s Emma Camp at the time. “Instead, Biden’s plan would have primarily benefited wealthier Americans, and it would have resulted in outstanding student loan debt returning to current levels by 2028.” Any additional plans Biden attempts to pass continue to disregard the root of the problem and serve as a blatant ploy to curry favor with voters, fiscal consequences be damned.

Trump goes for Jordan: After this week’s historic ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, some House Republicans looked like they were jockeying to possibly get former President Donald Trump on board with a speaker run, noting that you do not technically have to be a member of Congress in order to seek election. Trump came to Washington, and speculation ensued.

Early this morning, Trump disabused them of that notion. “Congressman Jim Jordan has been a STAR long before making his very successful journey to Washington, D.C.,” Trump wrote via Truth Social at 12:13 a.m. on Friday. “He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”

Jim Jordan, who represents Ohio’s 4th district, “also picked up an important G.O.P. backer and cleared a potential challenger from the field with the endorsement of Representative Byron Donalds of Florida,” reports The New York Times.

Scenes from New York:

I was walking through Herbert Von King Park in Bed-Stuy the other day and stumbled across this memorial for social justice activist Ryan Carson, who was murdered at around 4 a.m. on Monday morning at a bus stop in the neighborhood while coming back from a wedding on Long Island.

Since Carson advocated for policies many on right-wing Twitter abhor (including lots of ACAB—”all cops are bastards”—rhetoric), plenty of big accounts have mocked his death or implied he had it coming. This is wrong, and our politics should allow us to mourn the innocent dead, even as we reject their ideologies.

Some interesting discourse about crime and “luxury beliefs” has emerged from this. “In response to elite opinion in 2020, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, and many other major cities in the U.S. reduced police spending,” writes The Free Press‘s Rob Henderson. “Most people didn’t want to defund the police, but the most affluent sector of society did. And so it was implemented.” Though I’m sympathetic to parts of Henderson’s hypothesis (and think fully defunding or abolishing the police is a terrible idea), it is worth noting that the reduction in spending on police has been marginal in most of these cities, and it’s not like they’re operating with skeletal budgets now (NYPD certainly isn’t, for example).


  • “Criticizing school choice opponents for sending their own children to private schools is not an ad hominem attack as I’ve seen some people argue,” writes Chris Freiman on Twitter/X. “That someone sends their own children to a private school rather than a public school is evidence that they believe that private school is, or at least can be, the better option for some students.”
  • Ozempic nation is hurting Walmart’s bottom line.
  • God bless the engineers:
  • Smells a bit like propaganda: “Russian President Vladimir Putin said pieces of grenade were found in the bodies of Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and other mercenary leaders who died in a plane crash, as he hinted that the man who led an armed revolt against the Kremlin’s military leadership had been a drug user.”
  • This too, frankly:
  • AI gets passive-aggressive:
(For more Aella, check out yesterday’s Reason Livestream.)
  • We’re in “a zero-sum rhetorical hellscape in which marriage is one of two things,” writes Kat Rosenfield for Unherd. “For its supporters, it is the last, best hope of a society on the brink of decline and disaster. For its detractors, it is an insidious ploy by reactionary dinosaurs to catapult us back to a less enlightened paradigm, just as we were nearing the utopian promise of a brave new world.”
  • Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R–S.C.) “chameleonic career.”
  • NYC Mayor Eric Adams will travel south to…give would-be migrants a stern talking-to OK.
  • “Is Jesus supposed to be Trump’s co-defendant or his attorney?” Hard-hitting questions from The Intelligencer on the (admittedly bonkers) courtroom sketch that the former president reposted to Truth Social.
Liz Wolfe is an associate editor at Reason covering tech, free speech, and China and co-host of the Reason Livestream. She has interviewed sex workerstattoo artistsventure capitaliststech CEOscrypto hype men, and the occasional restaurateur. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.


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