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Op-ed: Wisconsin group’s misplaced lawsuit against student loan forgiveness

by Tanesha Peeples
Op-ed: Wisconsin group's misplaced lawsuit against student loan forgiveness
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People are extra pressed about President Biden’s move to forgive student loans. So much so that a group from Wisconsin, the Brown County Taxpayers Association, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to block the administration’s student loan forgiveness program while an appeal plays out in a lower court. 

The group is saying, “The assault on our separation of powers — and upon the principle that the spending power is vested solely in Congress — is extraordinary, and perhaps unprecedented. We are witnessing a gargantuan increase in the national debt accomplished by a complete disregard for limitations on the constitutional spending authority.”

All in all, they believe that the nationwide debt cancellation plan “illegally encroaches on Congress’s exclusive spending power”.

For context, the plan includes forgiving up to $10,000 in loans for individuals earning $125,000 or less and an additional $10,000 for borrowers from low-income backgrounds who received Pell Grants in college: so, not even the full cancellation of debt that was promised on the campaign trail.

Economists are split on whether or not student loan forgiveness will hurt or help the economy. Meanwhile, I’m over here like, “What about all the other outrageous shit the country spends money on that we [taxpayers] pay for? See where my mind went below.

The War in Ukraine

The United States pledged its support to Ukraine as soon as Russia knucked and bucked across Ukraine’s border, ready to fight. Since then, we’ve spent billions of dollars supporting the war-torn country. 

How many billions? Who knows exactly. In September, the U.S. Department of Defense announced an additional $2.8 billion in security assistance, bringing that aid total to $15.2 billion. The New York Times says we’ve thrown them a total of $54 billion. If you really want to get into the numbers and what the money was spent on, here’s a fact sheet issued by the Department of Defense.

Not to mention, this war is one of the reasons why we’ve hit record-setting inflation.

Whatever the amount, that could’ve been money used to chip away at student loan debt. But like Tupac said, “They got money for wars but can’t feed the poor.” And in this case, we have billions for Ukraine but not $400 billion for Americans who were sold the promise of an American Dream if they paid for a higher education.

Cost of police misconduct payouts ignored amid lawsuit against student loan forgiveness

How about the billions spent annually on police misconduct settlements? Yeah, these are mainly municipal payouts but they still affect taxpayer dollars.

The Washington Post collected data on nearly 40,000 payments at 25 of the nation’s largest police and sheriff’s departments within the past decade, documenting more than $3.2 billion spent to settle claims.

They also reported, “The repetition is the hidden cost of alleged misconduct: Officers whose conduct was at issue in more than one payment accounted for more than $1.5 billion, or nearly half of the money spent by the departments to resolve allegations, The Post found.

In some cities, officers repeatedly named in misconduct claims accounted for an even larger share. For example, in Chicago, officers who were subject to more than one paid claim accounted for more than $380 million of the nearly $528 million in payments.”

This means that not only are we paying out-of-pocket for crimes committed by those who are supposed to serve and protect, but we’re also supporting the habits of repeat offenders. 

Mass Incarceration That Doesn’t Lead to Rehabilitation

Let’s talk about mass incarceration.

PBS states, “The U.S. spends $81 billion a year on mass incarceration, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and that figure might be an underestimate. In 2017, the Prison Policy Initiative estimated the actual cost on state and federal governments and impacted families is roughly $182 billion. Those dollars go to staffing the criminal justice system and meeting the basic needs of the more than 2 million Americans who are incarcerated.”

Now, even though President Biden just pardoned thousands of incarcerated people for petty marijuana offenses, that still doesn’t mean that billions weren’t spent during their wrongful stint in jail. 

Capitalists consider prison an investment in cheap labor–the new slavery. Meanwhile, it’s hitting us taxpayers in the pockets. 

Investigating Donald Trump’s January 6th Insurrection

Because people want to deny what they saw with their own eyes on January 6th, 2021 and are refusing to hold Donald Trump accountable for planning and inciting an insurrection, now we have to waste time and money on an investigation.

As of April 2022, the committee had already spent $2.5 million and is estimated to spend $9.3 million by the end of December. According to an analysis of the latest available congressional disbursement reports, most of the costs come from personnel expenses and payments to outside contractors.

Regardless of anyone’s crooked politics or morals, the facts are clear as day. And the unwillingness to call a devil the devil is costing us millions.

Student loan forgiveness shouldn’t be under threat

So, these are just a few things that came to mind when thinking about other ways Congressional spending is out of hand and how we as a country waste money in general.

If groups like the Brown County Taxpayers Association took on these crusades, maybe I wouldn’t be so annoyed with their attempt to block student loan forgiveness that would help millions of people whose college debt closed the door to their American dream. 

Find some other business and let Moneybags Joe do his student loan forgiveness thing–y’all have looked the other way with everything else.

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