States that sued to support Trump’s coup attempt sue to stop student loan forgiveness

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Missouri again a leader in legal action despite many residents of that state who will benefit from the Democrats’ loan plan

A few weeks before Donald Trump sent an angry mob of violent supporters to the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the 2020 election certification in Congress — not to mention, attempt to lynch his own vice president — 18 U.S. states banded together to sue in support of Trump’s savage election overthrow effort. The U.S. Supreme Court largely ignored this nuisance lawsuit, but that body may not do so in future legal battles.

The 18 states, led by the attorney generals of Texas and Missouri, wanted the nation’s highest court to overthrow the 2020 election based on nothing more than conspiracy theories and whims that could not be explained, much less proven, in court. Those states’ leaders sought to throw out the votes of millions of their own residents basically because Trump and his minions were sore losers.

Almost two years later, officials in five of those states — Missouri, South Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas, and Nebraska — were joined by colleagues from Iowa on September 29 in a legal action to attempt to stop Democrats’ student loan forgiveness program. The plan would provide up to $20,000 of debt relief for qualified students who hold federal loans and meet income requirements.

Other states, including Arizona, are contemplating similar lawsuits, or joining the original one.

Those states and Republican officials claim the program will cost taxpayers millions of dollars and hurt those who do not have such loans, though such claims are unproven. They cite the harm to loan companies that will lose out on lucrative terms that cause most of the payments to be in the form of interest, not principal. Their spin overlooks a few points:

  • Debt relief will boost the economy, freeing up funds for borrowers to pay elsewhere, including on new homes, travel, and large appliances.
  • The loan companies are backed by the federal government, and most have millions of dollars worth of loans that will not be impacted by this plan. These companies will be fine.
  • The amount of forgiveness is not a firm number since many borrowers likely would pay off the amounts sooner or they would be forgiven through other programs. Some would also declare bankruptcy and default on the loans, meaning the government would lose that amount anyway.
  • The Congressional Budget Office admitted that its estimate of what the plan would cost taxpayers was highly uncertain. “The most uncertain components are the projections of how much borrowers would repay if the executive action canceling debt had not been undertaken and how much they will repay under that executive action,” CBO Director Phillip L. Swagel wrote on September 26. “Those projections depend in part on future economic conditions and on how the terms of loans might be modified in the future.” Furthermore, debt is different from taxes. Loan servicers generally find more loan borrowers to make up for any perceived shortfalls.
  • Republicans supported billion-dollar bailouts of large corporations and big Wall Street banks after the onset of the 2007–2009 Great Recession, including many that directly caused the recession.
  • Republicans supported debt relief in the hundreds of millions of dollars for businesses that took out government loans during the COVID-19 pandemic and did not repay them.
  • Republicans supported the 2017 tax cuts that cost billions of dollars, most of which went to the very wealthy.
  • There was a time in this country when many colleges were tuition-free, though there were other costs. When I went to college from 1977 to 1981, I was able to obtain mostly grants. I graduated debt-free, as did many other college grads. Then Ronald Reagan’s policies took hold, and the grants largely dried up, replaced by loans. Reagan’s cuts reduced public federal spending on higher education by about 25 percent between 1980 and 1985. Before Reagan took over the White House, students and their families paid about 20 percent of the college costs. Today, they spend about 80 percent. And college costs have soared out of sight.

The bottom line is students need more help these days. Joe Biden recognizes that, and he has responded, while most Republicans support the Reagan tactics.

Besides leading the charge to file these anti-democracy actions, Missouri is the home of U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, who became the GOP face of the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack when he was photographed sending protesters a clenched fist in solidarity. He was later seen fleeing inside the Capitol from the same protesters who he helped to incite.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley runs down the halls of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, fleeing Trump supporters who he had earlier incited. [Public domain photo, courtesy of U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol]

The new development here is Iowa joining this legal action. That state, almost a swing state, steered clear of the Trump coup attempt action in 2020. But Iowa’s state leaders have supported Trump more after the state legislature’s Republican majority grew following recent elections. That led to Iowa’s support of far-right actions like the 2022 Anti-Student Six lawsuit that are not in the best interest of millions of Iowa residents.

So I will have to add Iowa to my list of states to avoid traveling to and buying products that they make. Hopefully, that list will one day shrink, rather than continue to grow.

Kevin Shay is a veteran journalist and author of several books. Among those is Operation Chaos, which covers the Trump coup attempt that led to the Capitol attack.

Politicians in six states — Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Iowa — filed suit on September 29, 2022, to block Democrats’ program to provide millions of students, including some of those above, with loan forgiveness relief. [Shay photo]