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Tag: joe biden

Broadcast Networks Carried Charles III's Speech -- But Not Biden's

The three major broadcast networks all aired live special coverage Friday afternoon of King Charles III’s first speech as the British monarch, following the death Thursday of his mother Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96. The gratuitous coverage provided by ABC, CBS, and NBC of the ascension of a foreign monarch stood in glaring contrast to each network's refusal to air a presidential address by President Joe Biden just one week ago about growing threats to American democracy.

Indeed, the two speeches could not have been more different in their level of importance to the United States. Last week, President Biden delivered a prime-time address in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which he condemned former President Donald Trump and his supporters for encouraging political violence and seeking to undermine elections in America. The president made a call for national unity, and pledged to continue to “fight for democracy with every fiber of my being.”

By contrast, the United States has been a separate country from the United Kingdom for nearly 250 years, and is not a member of the modern Commonwealth of Nations that also recognizes the British monarch as a ceremonial head of state. In short, the king’s speech Friday did not have any impact, even a symbolic one, on life in the United States, while the president’s speech last week related to urgently important domestic threats. (Mainstream media outlets have also struggled to address the dangers now facing American democracy.)

Boston Globe opinion columnist and associate editor Renée Graham pointed out this major contrast in the networks’ behavior: “None of them aired President Biden's primetime speech about the ongoing threats to American democracy.”

One might possibly argue in response that this is a comparison of apples and oranges, as the networks on Friday were simply running a live feed of King Charles in the course of their regularly scheduled midday news programming. The American president’s speech last week, by contrast, would have required them to preempt other shows during prime time.

The problem with such a counterargument, however, becomes obvious from actually looking at what they ran last Thursday night during the 8 p.m. ET time slot instead of the president’s speech. Two of the networks, CBS and NBC, aired reruns of the shows Young Sheldon and Law & Order, respectively. ABC did in fact run new programming, namely the game show Press Your Luck, in a specially themed episode titled “Zombie Apocalypse Ready.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Biden: To Defend Democracy, We Must Extend Democracy

“You are either with us, or with the terrorists.”

That’s how President George W. Bush framed the challenge just after 9/11. Bush went on to make some terrible decisions, including to invade a country—Iraq—that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack on the United States. But at the time, the clarity of those words was bracing.

Now, 21 years later, President Biden has done something similar in response to today’s threat. He has properly framed the great political challenge of our time, not just for the 2022 and 2024 elections but through at least the middle part of the 21st Century, when Donald Trump’s cult followers will still be roaming the land.

Biden was basically saying, You are either with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that were written just behind me—that’s “us”—or you are with the political terrorists who use fear and threats of violence to get their way. There’s no middle ground.

In parliamentary systems, politics is mostly about building coalitions. American politics requires that, too, but here politicians prevail by invoking our ideals, drawing lines, framing issues, stigmatizing the other side. Biden did all of that in his fine speech. He finally recognized that his gauzy message of unity was obsolete amid the Democracy Crisis (and yes, let’s start capitalizing it). So he jettisoned it in favor of the unvarnished truth.

When Biden first started calling Trumpsters “MAGA Republicans,” I thought it was too soft and abstract. I was wrong. The term simultaneously recognizes that the threat will last longer than Trump himself and leaves room for respecting patriotic Republicans. It will live in the American political lexicon forever.

It doesn’t matter that most TV viewers were watching Press Your Luck, Young Sheldon or a Law and Order rerun, or that much of the press dismissed the speech as a political pep rally, or that the usual rightwing blowhards were projecting again with their nonsense about Biden being the bad guy. The president hammered the new frame into wall, where it will hang just fine:

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people.”

“The Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.”

In early August, Biden met with a group of historians. They drew his attention to two other historic inflection points: 1860, when Abraham Lincoln ran for president after warning that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and 1940, a period described by historian Lynn Olson as “those angry days,” when emotions ran so high for and against intervention to stop Hitler that Arthur Schlesinger later said it was the most bitter struggle of his lifetime—worse than McCarthyism or fights over the Vietnam War.

I take no comfort from those historical analogies because both were only resolved by violence. In 1861, Southerners refused to accept Lincoln’s election and launched the Civil War. And in 1941, it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—not FDR’s speeches about the importance of democracy—that ended the acrimony over intervention.

This time, we need to protect democracy peacefully. That means exercising it in the courtroom—by proving that even presidents aren’t above the law—and at the ballot box, where a big turnout can save the day. “We need everyone to do their part,” Biden said. “So speak up. Speak out. Get engaged. Vote, vote, vote.” It’s like the principle of fighting bad speech with good speech. The only way to defend democracy is to extend democracy.

This won’t be easy, and not just because the Orange Menace has the survival skills of a feral animal. As Biden put it, MAGA Republicans believe it’s “either we win or we were cheated.” A crisis that began with one megalomaniac’s refusal before the 2020 election to commit to the peaceful transfer of power has become the animating principle of what was once the party of Lincoln.

Biden’s speech should help Democrats build on their momentum this fall. His aim is not persuasion but mobilization—to place democracy itself on the ballot so that so-called “sporadic” Democratic voters (who usually vote only quadrennially), elusive independents and patriotic Republicans (about 20-30 percent of the GOP are pro-democracy) understand that this is not just another boring midterm election. Even if voters don’t like him, Biden reasoned, they like Trump less, and fear giving MAGA Republicans the keys to the car. In a new NBC News poll, “threats to democracy” passed inflation as the number one issue for voters in both parties—69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans placed it first. Of the latter, it’s hard to know how many are Liz Cheney Republicans and how many are more of the Kari Lake fascist variety, who believe “threats” are indistinguishable from “Democrats.”

A Biden-Trump rematch, in absentia, since neither is on the ballot in 2022, looks good for Democrats. Biden leads Trump by six points in a new Wall Street Journal poll, which also shows independents trending toward the Democrats. That’s because wedge politics—using an emotional issue to energize supporters and divide the other party—works, even in an uncertain economy. It was once a Republican speciality. Now the Big Wedge is wielded by Democrats. It seems that democracy, of all things, has the potential to deliver some stinging losses to the GOP.

An instinct for democracy can also help create unscripted, authentic moments that people remember. When a protester in Philadelphia first started shouting at the president through a bullhorn, I was hoping someone would politely escort him out of earshot. Biden knew better. He deftly incorporated the heckling into his message: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.” And then he tapped into the sense of decency that powers the pro-democracy movement: “Good manners is nothing they’ve ever suffered from.” Perfect.

Contrast that to Trump shouting at his 2016 rallies, “Get him the hell out of here! Get him out of here! Throw him out!” in Alabama or “I’d like to punch him in the face” in Las Vegas, where he reminisced, “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

Unfortunately, Biden missed a chance to drive home an even sharper contrast. At one point, he said, “They [MAGA Republicans] look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.”

This would have been the perfect place to refer to Trump saying earlier in the day on a rightwing radio show that if he's reelected, he will offer “full pardons with an apology to many” of the insurrectionists. Pardons to people convicted of viciously assaulting Capitol police officers? This will be a great issue for Democrats. It crystallizes Trump’s contempt for law enforcement and lack of patriotism. As Biden explained, ”You can’t love your country only when you win."

The president was right to strike a hopeful tone. Even when it rang false (“I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future”), he grasped the importance of connecting Americans to our idealized version of ourselves.

For years, Biden has ended his speeches by saying “And may God protect our troops.” Now, with the war in Afghanistan over and a new crisis looming at home, he has amended that. He concluded the most important speech of his presidency this way:

“And may God protect our nation. And may God protect all those who stand watch over our democracy. God bless you all.”

Then one final word:

“Democracy.”

Jonathan Alter, a political analyst for MSNBC, writes the Old Goats newsletter on Substack. His most recent book is His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life.

Reprinted with permission from OLD GOATS with Jonathan Alter.



Will Americans Heed Biden's Plea To Defend Democracy?

Decades from now, Joe Biden's errors may not be forgotten, whether they relate to Afghanistan, the border or inflation. But whatever Biden has gotten wrong, posterity will remember that he was right about one critical matter: the dangers to democracy that arose in our time.

His prime-time address Thursday was a milestone of a regrettable sort: an American president feeling compelled to warn of a mortal threat to our form of government — not from foreign enemies but from Americans. Biden was elected partly because of public recognition that Donald Trump was at war with the foundational ideals of this country.

But that war continued beyond the election, till Jan. 6 and after. Trump came excruciatingly close to success. Yet the GOP remains loyal to him.

Biden highlighted what's at stake. "MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution," he said. "They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election, and they're working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself."

Democracy differs from authoritarianism in that it rests on truth, compromise, pluralism and a respect for the rights of others. Biden will go down in history as the president who played a major role in preserving the institutions and ideals that Trump did his best to undermine.

But maybe I'm being too optimistic. It may be that a generation or two from now, Americans will no longer be living in a constitutional republic based on fundamental rights, the rule of law and the consent of the governed. In that case, the dominant narrative may be that Biden was naive, weak and foolishly wedded to outmoded principles. He may be on the wrong side of history.

Mikhail Gorbachev could empathize. The former Soviet leader once represented the immense possibilities of human progress. More than anyone else, he was responsible for the eclipse of communism, the demise of the Soviet empire and the peaceful conclusion of the Cold War.

He didn't initiate the surge of political freedom that swept the globe three decades ago. Autocratic governments had previously given way to democracy in Spain, Greece, South Korea, and the Philippines, among others. But no transition was more consequential than the one in Moscow.

Today, it's hard to conceptualize how earthshaking it was. Americans of the Cold War era assumed that communism was as permanent as the moon.

In his 2009 book The Rise and Fall of Communism, Oxford University historian Archie Brown noted: "There are those who, in hindsight, think that transformative change was bound to occur in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1980s. Yet it would be hard to find anyone who at the time predicted change remotely comparable to that which took place."

What was once regarded as impossible came to appear inevitable: the spread of democracy to every corner of the world. Between 1992 and 2006, according to the human rights organization Freedom House, the share of humanity living in free societies grew from 25% to 46%.

Autocracy went into the dustbin of history not only in Eastern Europe but also in much of Latin America and Africa. Even China seemed to be moving toward irreversible liberalization. The words of the English poet William Wordsworth fit the moment: "Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive."

But the tide of change eventually subsided, as tides tend to do. Over the past decade and a half, the forces of autocracy have gained ground. Vladimir Putin has strangled Russia's fledgling democracy. The Chinese Communist Party has grown more repressive. Populist strongmen have come to power in places from Brazil to Hungary — oh, and from 2017 to 2021, in the United States.

In its 2022 world survey, Freedom House reported that global freedom has declined for 16 consecutive years. "The global order is nearing a tipping point," it warned, "and if democracy's defenders do not work together to help guarantee freedom for all people, the authoritarian model will prevail." Biden's address was a call to avert that outcome.

It was once assumed that the story of America was one of steady progress in steadily improving our grand experiment in rule by the people. But nothing in this world is guaranteed to last forever — not even the world's oldest democracy. If it is going to survive, Americans will have to save it — or else be remembered for our failure.

An announcement: Forty-one years ago, I began writing a regular column for the Chicago Tribune, which has been distributed by Creators Syndicate. Today, I'm retiring as a columnist. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, and thanks most of all to my readers.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Fox News Bosses Knew Network Spread Lies About Dominion Voting Systems

Reports from Fox News in mid-November 2020 make it clear that the network knew it was peddling falsehoods about Dominion voting machines, yet many of its personalities continued to overwhelmingly spew conspiracy theories on prime-time cable television.

Dominion is suing Fox for defamation after the right-wing cable channel extensively pushed false claims about the 2020 election and Dominion’s voting machines. In the two-week period after Fox News declared Joe Biden the president-elect, the network questioned the results of the election or pushed conspiracy theories about it almost 800 times, including by using Dominion as a scapegoat. Fox became an outlet that aired Trump campaign lies about Dominion voting machines getting hacked without any evidence. The channel’s coverage of the election mimicked the baseless claims of Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell.

For Dominion to prove that Fox acted with “actual malice,” the company must show that Fox knew the allegations made about Dominion were false, or that Fox acted in reckless disregard for the truth. In addition to pursuing how culpable the Murdochs were in this regard, Dominion lawyers are deposing Fox prime-time hosts and appear to have text messages that show employees knew Fox was peddling lies, according to Washington Post reporting.

While these lines of inquiry may be already sufficient to meet the “actual malice” standard, brief moments in Fox’s own programming also show the network was contemporaneously aware the Dominion allegations were lies, even if these few examples were drowned out. The Washington Post noted that Dominion may currently be trying to ascertain “whether Fox personalities who challenged election fraud claims on air faced any repercussions.”

Some articles and newsletters on FoxNews.com from November 2020 included statements from Dominion rejecting the baseless conspiracy theories or Fox staffers mocking the conspiracy theories. On the channel’s programming, some Fox personalities made the effort to debunk what their own colleagues were pushing and encouraged the Fox audience to accept the election. This included directly fact-checking lies about Dominion, labeling such claims as disinformation, and explaining that no evidence for these conspiracy theories had been presented. Unfortunately, vastly outnumbered by Fox lies about the election, these moments were brief and few:

  • Fox correspondent Eric Shawn debunked Trump lies about Dominion, citing cybersecurity experts at the Department of Homeland Security to call it an example of “disinformation.” [Fox News, Special Report, 11/12/20]
  • Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy debunked guest Jonathan Turley’s claim that Dominion voting software “had glitches.” Doocy said: “With that Dominion software: Five counties in Michigan and Georgia had problems. And the Dominion software was used in two of the counties. And in every instance, largely, it was human error – a problem, but the software did not affect the vote counts.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/13/20]
  • Days later, Doocy and Turley acknowledged that there was no evidence for the Dominion conspiracy theories. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/16/20]
  • Shawn offered to “clarify the election facts as we know them right now,” debunking several baseless claims of voter fraud on-air, reading off the response from Dominion to one particular claim about the company. Shawn also noted that the conspiracy theories are “designed to undermine your faith in American democracy.” [Fox News, America’s News HQ, 11/15/20]
  • Fox correspondent Rick Leventhal said Rudy Giuliani “offered no evidence” for his claims that Dominion is “a radical left company with ties to Venezuela, outright accusing it of fixing the 2020 results.” [Fox News, Fox News at Night, 11/16/20]
  • Fox News anchor Dana Perino and contributor Karl Rove recognized on-air that the accusations were all potential grounds for lawsuits by Dominion against Giuliani and Powell. [Fox News, The Daily Briefing, 11/19/20]
  • Shawn interviewed Dominion representative Michael Steel for nine minutes to debunk specific right-wing allegations against the company. [Fox News, America’s News HQ, 11/22/20]
  • Just two days before the Jan. 6 insurrection, Doocy repeatedly pointed out that Trump’s supporters have shown no evidence to support Dominion conspiracy theories. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/4/21]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Biden Slams Trump's 'Extremist' Assault On Democracy

Philadelphia (AFP) - President Joe Biden took fierce aim Thursday at Donald Trump and his "extremist" supporters, labeling them enemies of American democracy in a prime-time address that sought to fire up voters ahead of key midterm elections.

Speaking in Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, the president launched an extraordinary assault on those Republicans who embrace Trump's "Make America Great Again" ideology -- and urged his own supporters to fight back.

"Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," thundered Biden, speaking near the spot where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted more than two centuries ago.

"They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies."

"There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever," warned the 79-year-old Democrat -- in a reference to last year's assault on the US Capitol by hardline Trump supporters refusing to accept his defeat.

Citing the nationwide assault on abortion rights by hardline conservatives -- and fears for other freedoms from contraception to same-sex marriage -- the U.S. leader charged that "MAGA forces" were "determined to take this country backwards."

With control of Congress in the balance come November, Biden appealed directly to mainstream Republicans to join forces with Democrats and repudiate Trump's brand of politics -- which still holds sway over much of his party.

And he made it clearer than ever that Democrats intended to make the midterms a referendum on Trump, saying the Republican Party was wholly "dominated, driven and intimidated" by the former president and his MAGA agenda.

"And that is a threat to this country," he said, insisting American democracy had to be defended.

"Protect it. Stand up for it," Biden urged.

'Semi-Fascism'

Biden's speech -- billed as an address on the "battle for the Soul of the Nation" -- harked back to an article he published in The Atlantic magazine in 2017, after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that he says spurred his presidential run.

"We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation," Biden wrote then.

After his election in 2020, the veteran politician initially planned to wage this battle through dialogue with moderate Republican lawmakers, and through economic and social policies aimed at the middle class.

But the talk of reconciliation has died down, as polls seem to indicate the Democratic leader is better served by being more aggressive.

Last week, Biden accused Trump's supporters of being consumed by "semi-fascism."

The term sparked indignation in conservative ranks -- with Republican Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy charging that it "vilifies" millions of "hardworking, law-abiding citizens.

"With all due respect Mr President, there's nothing wrong with America's soul," retorted Republican senator and longtime Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham after Biden's speech. "The American people are hurting because of your policies."

A new poll published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal shows that if the midterm elections were held today, 47 percent of eligible voters would cast ballots for Democrats, and 44 percent would vote Republican.

In March, the Republicans had a five-point advantage.

The Democrats are hoping for an upset in November's elections, in which all of the seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate seats are on the ballot. Traditionally, the midterms don't favor the ruling party.

Things have been going well for Biden lately, however, with inflation slowing, a series of his landmark reforms finally pushed through Congress and Trump fighting off a series of criminal investigations. Polls show widespread support for abortion rights, which could put many Republicans on the back foot.

This would be enough to give hope to the Democrats, who are battling to keep their hold on the House and preserve their Senate majority -- or even strengthen it.

And Pennsylvania will be crucial for any of that to happen.

Historically a key battleground state in US politics, the Keystone State will likely prove vital to both parties in the midterms -- and Biden will visit three times this week alone.

Trump is also planning an appearance in the state on Saturday to support his candidate in the Senate race, TV physician Mehmet Oz.

Biden Blasts 'Semi-Fascist' MAGA Republicans In Powerful Midterm Address

On Thursday evening, President Joe Biden didn’t so much take the gloves off as he put them on. He then proceeded to deliver a 10-round pounding to the modern Republican Party, in a speech that marked a sharp departure for Biden—and set a tone Democrats would be wise to emulate in the weeks remaining before the midterm elections.

In a 30-minute speech delivered at a rally for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, Biden drew a sharp line between the traditional Republicans he has worked with and the past, and the “MAGA Republicans” currently threatening to tear America apart. Then he went on to make it clear that stopping the MAGA movement is a now or never fight to save America.

“The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security. They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace—embrace—political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”

Those words doubled-down on a statement Biden had earlier in the evening where, as CNN reports, Biden warned a crowd at a fundraiser that America is either on the brink of disaster, or at the moment of salvation.

“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the—I’m going to say something—it’s like semi-fascism.”

The willingness of the president to work with Republicans, and to continue to seek bipartisan solutions, even as Republicans were doing their best to sabotage his efforts while painting him as both somehow simultaneously weak and an existential threat has been frustrating to many. But in this speech, Biden’s only outreach to Republicans was an urgent plea for those who have not been taken in by the semi-fascism of the MAGA movement: to join with Democrats in saving the nation.

“This is why in this moment, those of you who love this country—Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans— we must be stronger.”

Also on Thursday, the White House Twitter account lit a hot blue flame under Republican hypocrites who were feigning outrage over the idea of student loan forgiveness, while ignoring how they had been handed six- or seven-figure checks to forgive loans of their own. Many observers attribute that shift in tone on the Twitter account to the welcome addition of former “voice of New Jersey” Megan Coyne to the White House social media team.

But if anyone was thinking that the fire was going to be restricted to Twitter, Biden’s speech made clear that, as Democrats move toward the fall elections, he is approaching that moment with the zeal of someone who clearly sees the danger threatening our nation.

A moment that comes along only ever six or seven generations in world history...

Biden also referenced the invasion of Ukraine and the increasing belligerence of China during the Maryland speech, saying that he could see now how Donald Trump’s embrace of authoritarians had harmed America’s message and authority. “I underestimated how much damage the previous four years had done in terms of America’s reputation in the world,” said the president.

Yet Biden’s speech wasn’t only about underscoring the threat of those who model themselves after Trump. He also held up the accomplishments of the last two years, saying that "We never gave in and we're delivering for the American people now. Even our critics have been forced to acknowledge real progress."

Throughout the speech, Biden underscored the vast gulf between the positions of Democrats and the anti-democracy positions of the current Republican Party. Republicans, said Biden, “have made their choice to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate and division. We've chosen a different path, forward, the future, unity, hope and optimism.”

And when it came to his “vision of a better America,” Biden also did not hold back when making clear exactly what that is. If Democrats can hold the House and gain two more seats in the Senate, Biden said, Democrats would soon be delivering on a list of policies that America desperately needs.

If Democrats can get two more Senators and keep the House...

“We’ll codify Roe v. Wade. We’ll ban assault weapons. We’ll protect Social Security and Medicare. We’ll pass universal Pre-K. We’ll restore the child care tax credit. We’ll protect voting rights, pass election reform, and make sure no one ever has the opportunity to steal an election again.”

Watch the full speech below, via WUSA:


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Right-Wing Media Smear Student Loan Relief With Deception And Distortion

Since President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for low-income and middle-class Americans, conservative media figures have launched a full-throated attack against loan forgiveness.

On Wednesday, the Department of Education released a statement that laid out its plan to relieve debt for both undergraduate and graduate borrowers. Americans annually making $125,000 or less or living in a joint household with an annual income of $250,000 or less are eligible to have $10,000 of federal student loan debt forgiven. Individuals who received the Pell Grant, which provides federal aid to low-income students, are eligible to have an additional $10,000 of student debt canceled. The Education Department also extended its pause on student loan repayment through December 31 and proposed that monthly repayments be capped at 5% of a borrower’s monthly income.

The amount of student debt in the United States has doubled in the last decade, and roughly one in five Americans have student loans. These loans represent drastic economic setbacks for borrowers as one of the greatest contributors to household debt. Over time, the overbearing stress associated with debt can also lead to negative psychological outcomes. On a wider scale, outstanding student loans can reduce consumer spending and diminish business growth. Canceling student debt aims to lessen these consequences and reduce wealth disparities among vulnerable populations most likely to borrow money for school such as nonwhite and first-generation students.

Despite these benefits, right-wing media figures have flooded online spaces and cable news with bad-faith takes and misleading commentary on student debt forgiveness. In reality, the cancellation of student debt marks a significant step toward closing wealth gaps and improving the lives of millions.

Right-wing claim: Loan forgiveness favors the rich

Reality: Most of the student aid relief will benefit those earning less than $75,000. The Biden administration’s plan to cancel student debt is targeted to assist largely low- and middle-income Americans struggling with debt. According to the Department of Education, “Among borrowers who are no longer in school, nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year.”

  • On Fox’s Outnumbered, former Trump White House press secretary and current Fox host Kayleigh McEnany said, “Make no mistake: This is a handout to the rich.”
  • Fox anchor Sandra Smith suggested that low-income Americans “are going to be on the hook” for the student debt of the upper class.
  • During the August 24 edition of The Five, Fox host Jesse Watters mocked loan forgiveness, saying, “I want to congratulate all the rich whites with graduate degrees who live on the coasts and are making six figures.” He also called Biden’s plan “reverse class warfare,” adding, “It's like you rob the poor to pay the rich.”
  • On Hannity, guest host Pete Hegseth and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) both framed debt cancellation as a “wealth transfer” that benefits the rich at the expense of middle America.

Right-wing claim: Inflation will be made worse by loan forgiveness

Reality: Any inflation caused by loan forgiveness is expected to be minimal and will be offset when debt payments resume in January. Right-wing media are largely reliant on a blog post for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), which argues that Biden’s decision will worsen inflation. According to the Roosevelt Institute, the CRFB purposefully distorted its deficit analysis, and the results actually indicate that any inflation from debt cancellation is not only minimal, but will be offset by payments restarting in January 2023.

Student debt cancellation is also more likely to allow recipients to either pay other debts or build savings, rather than increase spending. This will not impact inflation, but improve the immediate and future financial security of millions of Americans. This will allow longer-term benefits for the economy, as those individuals will be able to buy a house, have children, or start their own business.

  • During a panel on The Faulkner Focus, guest anchor Sandra Smith asked Fox News contributor Richard Fowler, “Doesn't this effort to forgive or cancel this student loan debt, doesn't it sort of undermine Congress' efforts to try to bring down inflation? Won't this government spending just lead to more high prices?”
  • Fox News contributor Brian Brenberg claimed that inflation reduction is “gone,” adding, “It wasn't true in the first place and it’s gone three times over now. So if you are one of those senators who made a deal because you wanted to promise the American people we will get some deficit reduction, guess what? You got run over by a truck. It was called student loan relief.”
  • Right-wing outlet Just the News published an article titled “Biden student loan plan expected to worsen inflation, benefit higher-income earners,” citing the flawed CRFB analysis.

Right-wing claim: Loan forgiveness is unfair to those without student debt

Reality: Forgiving student loans for those currently saddled with excessive debt is a small step in addressing a dire problem faced by millions — not a slap in the face to those who did not take out loans or already paid them back. As a column for the Los Angeles Times argues:

The truth, of course, is that in a healthy society government policy moves ahead by taking note of existing inequities and striving to address them. Following the implications of the “I paid, why shouldn’t you” camp to their natural conclusion means that we wouldn’t have Social Security, Medicare or the Affordable Care Act today.

Those programs were all designed to relieve Americans of what Franklin Roosevelt called “the hazards and vicissitudes of life.” Is it really sensible to say that we shouldn’t have them because before their enactment seniors were left to starve and suffer illness without assistance, and some families needed to buy health coverage in an individual market that was closed to those with medical conditions or grotesquely overpriced?

  • On America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Brian Brenberg rhetorically asked the anchors, “Why did you pay off your loans? How foolish are you to be responsible like this? This is the thing that sticks in your stomach, right? There is so much rank injustice here. If you paid off your loans, you are feeling like a fool.”
  • On Twitter, right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh claimed, “There is no such thing as student loan forgiveness. There is only student loan transferral, where the debt is transferred from the person who took out the loan to someone else who did not take out the loan.”
  • During America Reports, anchor John Roberts characterized loan forgiveness as something critics are calling “fundamentally unfair.” Fox contributor Joey Jones agreed, saying, “There is certainly a fairness element here that doesn’t pan out.” The network also displayed a tweet from Jones that read “I cannot believe I gave two legs for my tuition. What a dope I am,” alluding to Jones’ double leg amputation incurred during his service as a Marine.
  • On The Five, co-host Jeanine Pirro claimed, “My heart bleeds for the people who actually went out and paid for their loans, who went without things, whose families said, ‘I'm sorry, we can't afford your loans.’” She then revealed that her family paid for her education. “I didn't have to take out loans because they paid for them. But they worked hard for their money. This is a giveaway and it's disgusting.”
  • Fox contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier declared, “It took me about 10 years to pay off $300,000 worth of debt that I incurred through medical school,” before complaining that the plan to cancel student debt is “not fair, and it continues to widen that wage gap.”

Right-wing claim: Biden lacks the legal authority to cancel student debt

Reality: The Biden administration repeatedly outlined its ability to issue student loan forgiveness. In a document released by the Department of Education, officials argued that under the 2003 HEROES Act, the administration has the power “to waive or modify the rules on federal student loans during a presidentially declared national emergency, including the current pandemic.” Additionally, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice published a document that details the administration’s authority to cancel debt to alleviate financial hardship exacerbated by the pandemic.

  • On Fox’s The Five, co-host Jesse Watters deemed the cancellation of student debt “unconstitutional.” He also accused Biden of buying votes, saying, “You can’t raid the Treasury and cut checks to your favorite voters.” Watters asked, “Where did Biden get the power as the president to spend half a trillion dollars?”
  • During his Fox prime-time show, Watters claimed, “The president is just breaking the law and bribing voters and Congress doesn't care. … How is Joe raiding the Treasury behind Congress’ back and buying votes before an election not an abuse of power, not an obstruction of Congress?”
  • On Twitter, National Review senior political correspondent Jim Geraghty wrote, “The legal authority to do this just appeared out of nowhere magically!”
  • Fox host Laura Ingraham said that the loan forgiveness announcement adds “another example” to Biden’s “growing list of illegality.” A chyron during the segment read “Biden’s unconstitutional student loan scheme.”
  • Fox News contributor Karl Rove complained, “Where is the authority for the president to do this?”

Right-wing claim: Loan forgiveness will cost individual taxpayers an estimated $2,000 each

Reality: This is simply not how the U.S. tax system works. Conservative media are missing the context that the estimated figure is based on a report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation that averages the estimated cost to taxpayers of all incomes over a decade. The report also notes that this figure “is not a perfect proxy for cost, however, given the U.S. tax code is progressive and tax burdens are not evenly distributed across households.” For low-income taxpayers, the report estimates the average cost will be much lower than right-wing media are suggesting: The estimated cost for those making $50,000 or less annually is $158.27, and the estimated cost for those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 is $866.87.

  • Fox Business correspondent Hillary Vaughn repeated the claim that loan forgiveness will amount to “about $2,000 per taxpayer,” citing the National Taxpayers Union Foundation without context.
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters claimed that loan forgiveness amounts to “a war on the working class,” stating, “This loan cancellation will cost the average taxpayer over two grand a year.” In actuality, the report referenced by Watters estimates the cost to taxpayers over the span of 10 years.
  • During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Fox Business contributor Dan Roccato also used the $2,000 figure, claiming, “One estimate I saw last night was about two grand or so for the average taxpayer over the life of this thing.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

#Endorse This: Dark Brandon Strikes Obnoxious Reporter Over Student Loans

In response to Donald Trump's MAGA deplorables tagging President Biden as [expletive deleted] "Brandon" following a NASCAR event, progressives have promoted a mocking meme known as "Dark Brandon."

Taking root on Reddit, Twitter, and TikTok over the past few months, Dark Brandon took the leap mainstream discourse -- especially among Biden aides -- after the president racked up another major victory with the Inflation Reduction Act. Now after wiping out $10,000-$20,000 in federal student debt, Democrats are thoroughly trolling Republicans with their heroic meme.

Meidas Touch just released a Dark Brandon video that puts an obnoxious reporter on blast for attacking Biden's efforts to help lift the burden on poverty on working Americans.

Watch the clip below:


@meidastouch Dark Brandon: Eliminator of the Student Loans, Destroyer of the Double Standards #DarkBrandon #StudentLoans #MeidasTouch ♬ original sound - MeidasTouch.com