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Saturday, July 01, 2023

Gross domestic product increased at a 2% annualized pace for the January-through-March period, up from the previous estimate of 1.3% and ahead of the 1.4% Dow Jones consensus forecast. This was the third and final estimate for Q1 GDP. The growth rate was 2.6% in the fourth quarter. read more

The right-wing Supreme Court majority continues to shift enormous power away from Congress and the executive branch to itself. Justice Elena Kagan narrates in her student loan forgiveness dissent the majority relies heavily on the major questions "doctrine." This Court continues to impose itself on that process, deciding that Congress didn't meet some vague standard of specificity in its delegation and knocking down agency actions it doesn't like. read more

Friday, June 30, 2023

In Thursday's ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts and all of the Republican-appointed justices, make a simple - and simplistic - point: There is no real difference between the centuries of racial discrimination against Black people and targeted race-conscious efforts to help Black people. The problem is that, as a matter of history, it's not true. The 14th Amendment, ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War, was expressly intended to allow for race-conscious legislation. The same Congress that passed the amendment enacted several such laws, including the Freedmen's Bureau Acts, which helped former slaves secure housing, food, jobs and education. read more

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

His name is Tom Stuker and he's the biggest mistake United Airlines ever made. In 1990, United offered a lifetime pass for $290,000. Stuker jumped on it and has pretty much lived in seat 1B - his favorite - ever since. read more

"If your best defense is bravado,' in essence you're saying my defense is that I was lying,'" former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance told MSNBC. "That's a terrible defense, certainly for a former president and for anyone to make in front of a jury." read more


Jeez, Kagan should have worked for the White House and Speaker of the House's legal teams, because none of them believed it was legal...

Does the Speaker or the White House determine what's defined by statutes? No, the DOJ does, and this is what THEY told the SCOTUS:

The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 vests the Secretary of Education ("Secretary") with expansive authority to alleviate the hardship that federal student loan recipients may suffer as a result of national emergencies. The Act provides that the Secretary may "waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to - federal student loan programs if the Secretary "deems" such actions
"necessary to ensure that" certain statutory objectives are achieved. 20 U.S.C. 1098bb(a)(1)"(2). One of those objectives is to ensure that "recipients of student financial assistance . . . are not placed in a worse position financially in relation to that financial assistance because of - a national emergency.

You have asked whether the HEROES Act authorizes the Secretary to address the financial hardship arising out of the COVID -19 pandemic by reducing or canceling the principal balances of student loans for a broad class of borrowers. We conclude that the Act grants that authority. The plain text of the HEROES Act authorizes the Secretary to "waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the federal student loan program, 20 U.S.C. 1098bb(a)(1) (emphasis added), an authority that encompasses provisions applicable to the repayment of the principal balances of loans, provided certain conditions are met. We conclude that targeting relief towards those individuals who suffered financial hardship because of COVID -19 and who otherwise satisfy the requirements of the Act accords with the Act's requirement that the
waiver or modification "be necessary to ensure that" student loan recipients who are "affected" by a national emergency "are not placed in a worse position financially" with respect to their loans as a result. Id. 1098bb(a)(2). Further, we believe that the Secretary may reasonably conclude that class-wide debt relief in these circumstances is appropriate.


The question really should be where the SCOTUS found constitutional grounds to interfere with the authority Congress statutorily gave the Executive in plain, clear language.


When Trump was President this same SCOTUS said this:

Lawmakers, as well as ordinary citizens, do not have standing to sue to challenge unconstitutional spending.

"Among the reasons is that the Government has made a sufficient showing at this stage that the plaintiffs have no cause of action to obtain review of the Acting Secretary's compliance with" the provision that authorizes the transfer of military funds, they said by a 5-4 vote in Trump vs. Sierra Club. This suggests that because Congress did not specifically authorize lawsuits over this part of the military spending law, no one may go to court to contest an allegedly illegal transfer.

Now balance that, with this.
When Congress passed the Heroes Act, it made a very clear and explicitly articulated decision to give the secretary broad and flexible authority in national emergencies, to allow the secretary to bypass ordinary constraints on policymakers, to permit the secretary to provide loan relief to many borrowers at once, and to forbid the federal courts from reading other statutes to narrow this authority.
Perhaps precedence and the clear reading of the Court's own ruling led the Administration to do what they did. The Court made it clear that it had no role in "unconstitutional spending" so why did it now rule of exactly that - even when the statute itself made clear that the Courts had no role in interpreting how the act was administrated?

and I double that many are paying till they die

3 Million Americans Over 60 Are Stuck With Student Loans. They Owe a Total of $86 Million. Thousands are having their Social Security checks garnished.

And more than 40,000 people over 65 are having their Social Security payments, tax refunds, or other government payments garnished because they aren't paying their student loans. That number has more than tripled in the last decade.

https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/senior-citizens-student-loans-student-debt-social-security- garnished-retirement.html#:~:text=And%20more%20than%2040%2C000%20people,Article%20continues%20after% 20video.

Researchers found that at the time of their initial Social Security garnishment, nearly half of borrowers age 50 and older had held their student loans for 20 years or more. A majority of these borrowers owed less than $10,000 when their benefits were first cut and many were hit with the maximum reduction, the GAO said. Seventy percent of the money collected through this form of garnishment from borrowers of all ages was applied to fees and interest, not the principle amount owed. Treasury charges a $15 monthly processing fee for wage and benefit garnishment.

And although Social Security cuts for many older Americans ended within a year, those with balances exceeding $20,000 endured the reduction for five years or more, according to the report. About 13 percent of borrowers older than 50 died with outstanding student loans.


Suck on it moron.

Here's proof that this court is politically biased and shouldn't be seen as a fair arbiter of executive power.

Remember when Donald Trump declared a national emergency and ordered the Pentagon to transfer $2.5 billion to pay for border wall projects because Congress expressly refused to fund them?

What did the Roberts Court say about this executive action by fiat?

The Constitution says, "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by law."

The high court has handcuffed Congress and others who seek to block the executive branch from taking allegedly illegal actions. Lawmakers, as well as ordinary citizens, do not have standing to sue to challenge unconstitutional spending.

"Among the reasons is that the Government has made a sufficient showing at this stage that the plaintiffs have no cause of action to obtain review of the Acting Secretary's compliance with" the provision that authorizes the transfer of military funds, they said by a 5-4 vote in Trump vs. Sierra Club. This suggests that because Congress did not specifically authorize lawsuits over this part of the military spending law, no one may go to court to contest an allegedly illegal transfer.

The result is to shield the president and his administration from legal claims that he is diverting government funds to be spent for other purposes.


Not exactly the same but the spirit of the two cases are neighbors. I guess the Robert's court finds it perfectly okay to challenge unspecified forgiveness even though it doesn't impact Congress' spending authority in the slightest.

The misery index is a crude but effective way to measure the health of the economy. You add up the inflation rate and the unemployment rate. If you're a president running for re-election, you want that number to be as low as possible.

When Ronald Reagan won re-election, it was about 11.4, when George W. Bush did so it was 9, for Barack Obama it was 9.5, and today, as Joe Biden runs for re-election, it's only 7.7.

Biden should be cruising to an easy re-election victory. And that misery index number doesn't even begin to capture the strength of the American economy at the moment. There are a zillion positive indicators right now, as the folks in the administration will be quick to tell you. The economy has created 13 million jobs since Biden's Inauguration Day. According to the Conference Board, a business research firm, Americans' job satisfaction is at its highest level in 36 years. Household net worth is surging.

We learned Thursday that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized 2 percent rate in the first quarter of this year, well above the economists' expectations of around 1.4 percent. The best part of it is that the new prosperity is helping those who have long been left behind. In the four years of Donald Trump's administration, spending on manufacturing facilities grew by 5 percent. During the first two years of Biden's administration, such investment more than doubled and about 800,000 manufacturing jobs were created.

This is not just coincidence. It's a direct outcome of Biden policies: the Inflation Reduction Act, with its green technology provisions, the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS Act.

Biden's stimulative spending did boost the inflation rate, but inflation is now lower than in many other developed nations and our economy is stronger.

So Americans should be celebrating. But they are not.

David Brooks www.nytimes.com

Let me share a few brief and general thoughts on today's decision.

First, on its internal logic, the decision can appear compelling. But step back and you see that a specific class of Americans who were enslaved for two centuries and then mostly lived under a system of legal apartheid for another century somehow still remain largely excluded from social and economic preferment. And we're told that the constitution not only bars the government from doing anything about that but also bars private institutions from attempting to do anything about that. Judged from that more holistic perspective it's very hard to see how that can possibly be right whatever the internal logic of "color blindness."

Second, the same people who wrote the amendments that undergird this decision also passed various laws specifically to raise Black social and economic power to the level of white people. So the Court's definition of "color blindness" simply cannot have been the intent of the authors of the amendment. The history is open and shut.

Third, the question of whether the constitution requires or looks favorably on racial diversity is a complex question and it's not entirely clear that it does, at least if we're limiting our analysis tightly to the intent of the people who wrote the relevant amendments. But if originalism or history plays any role in your jurisprudence, African-Americans represent a unique class which the constitution specifically intends to raise to the level of white people. One could argue that that task is done somehow, or that society has changed in some respect that makes the original injunction operate differently or that affirmative and compensatory educational preferment is somehow uniquely damaging and thus a disallowed means of achieving that aim. But again, specifically for African-Americans, the "color blindness" constitutional argument doesn't add up.

Josh Marshall talkingpointsmemo.com


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