The current student debt burden is over $2 trillion and it is crushing the economy. Defaults on student loans are high and for most borrowers, especially those who are people of color, their loan balances are rising instead of falling. Clearing the FOG speaks with Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice about the impacts of the student loan burden and how to resolve this crisis. He makes a critical point about why it is President Biden, as he promised on the campaign trail, and not Congress, who cancels student debt and why that would be a powerful way to stimulate the economy.
On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed a series of executive orders that fell short of addressing two major crises facing jobless, poor, immigrants and working people: the threat of a wave of mass evictions and the threats of family separation by an emboldened rogue ICE agency. Simply put: Biden’s first executive orders did not cancel the rent debt and only delivered a partial moratorium on deportations. As the President settles in his new home, everyday people are wondering if they’ll avoid being kicked out of theirs. Millions of renters, homeowners and undocumented immigrants are teetering on the edge of being evicted, foreclosed off their homes or being deported from the country they call home too.
What if it could get done now? What if all (or many) of the largest problems within the United States could be solved now? What if the most exploited, the most troubled, the most chopped-up-masticated-and-drooled-out-by-the-American-machine populations could be helped right now? No Congress. No 10 years of “building up power” just to achieve a post-abuse pat on the head. None of that. Just fixing the problems now. Right now. Well, it actually is possible. I think we can all agree that Congress is basically a pit filled with hungry crocodiles in the later stages of lead poisoning, each with a different degree of dementia. (And I know that’s being generous in terms of their mental acuity.).
Shortly after the election, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to members that outlined legislative priorities for the waning days of the 116th Congress. One of them is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Hoyer indicated that the bill may come up for a vote in early December. A legislative victory, albeit in just one house, would complement decisions by voters who legalized marijuana in five states earlier this month. MORE reflects realities on the ground: Marijuana is now mainstream, on a par with alcohol and tobacco.
Journalist David Dayen presented a convincing case Tuesday that President-elect Joe Biden, once sworn into office come January, would have the legal authority to immediately provide complete Medicare coverage to everyone in the country via executive action due to the Covid-19 pandemic—though the very serious question remains: would he? During the primary season in March, Biden said he would veto a Medicare for All bill should one ever reach his desk, but with the coronavirus infection rate surging—and some scenarios projecting an overall death toll as high as 360,000 by the time the inauguration takes place...
Washington, D.C. — Over 235 organizations sent a letter to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, calling on them to use executive authority to cancel federal student debt on day one of their administration. In the letter, 238 nonprofit and community organizations highlight that cancelling student debt would stimulate the economy, help reduce the racial wealth gap, and could have a positive impact on health outcomes. The groups write that “executive action is one of the few available tools that could immediately provide a boost to upwards of 44 million borrowers and the economy...
WASHINGTON – In yet another rebuke of President Trump’s anti-democratic, anti-worker executive orders, last week the Department of Veterans Affairs rescinded the order denying employees their representational rights at work. Previously, the order had severely limited union officials’ access to office space, equipment, and official time to represent workers – but it was struck down on August 24 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Kentaji Jackson Brown ruled that the Trump administration’s May 25 executive order on official time violated the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers as established in lawand were invalid. And on Wednesday, August 29, the Office of Personnel Management directing agencies to rescind the provisions of the orders that were enjoined.
WASHINGTON — President Trump has signed an executive order mandating that families be jailed by the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security or Defense. This order will likely have the effect of jailing, for months or even years, immigrant families seeking safety in the U.S. The National Immigration Law Center has long decried the practice of jailing immigrant families, filing lawsuits when necessary to defend their rights. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who visited family detention facilities in 2014: “The Trump administration has created a crisis and committed horrific human rights abuses by separating children from their parents at the border. Clearly on the defense, today it used a political sleight of hand to try to placate Americans who have been rightly outraged by their government’s repugnant policies, including separating children and babies from their parents and housing them in cages.
News of Trump’s forthcoming executive order on Guantánamo is confirmation of what his words and actions have already shown: that he intends to keep the prison open and keep everyone in it imprisoned. As some men enter their 17th year of detention without charge, and five continue to languish while being cleared for release, the only thing Trump has to say or do about it is issue an order further entrenching the prison and effectively sanctioning detainees’ continued punishment. His defiance in the face of national and international calls for Guantánamo's closure is, of course, rooted in his executive hubris, his anti-Muslim animus, and his disregard for law, under which these detentions are without question unprecedented.
By Jake Johnson for Common Dream - Civil rights groups immediately raised alarm. Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), said in a statement Sunday night that the Trump administration's plan would "give law enforcement unfettered access to equipment that has been used to intimidate communities of color, with little to no training or oversight." Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to officially outline the administration's decision in a speech on Monday to the Fraternal Order of Police, America's largest police union. The New York Times noted that it is "not immediately clear why Mr. Sessions would announce changes to a Pentagon program, but he has rolled back several Obama-era policing reforms and helped bolster the Trump administration's support among law enforcement." "The new plan," explains USA Today's Kevin Johnson, "would roll back an Obama administration executive order that blocked armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, ammunition, and other heavy equipment from being re-purposed from foreign battlefields to America's streets."
By Staff of Earth Justice - The groups, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and The Wilderness Society, represented by attorneys at Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following joint statement: “President Trump’s April 28 executive order exceeds his constitutional and statutory authority and violates federal law. Responding to a national groundswell of opposition to expanded offshore drilling, President Obama permanently ended oil and gas leasing in most of the Arctic Ocean and key parts of the Atlantic Ocean in December, using his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Until Trump, no president has ever tried to reverse a permanent withdrawal made under OCSLA, which does not authorize such a reversal. Trump’s executive order could open up more than 120 million acres of ocean territory to the oil and gas industry, affecting 98 percent of federal Arctic Ocean waters and 31 biologically rich deepwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean.
By Dani Heffernan for 350.org - “The best way to fight against these executive orders is to take to the streets. Even as Trump dismantles environmental protections to shore up the fossil fuel industry, support for action to stop global warming is at an all-time high. Now it’s up to communities to bring our vision of a healthy climate and a just transition to renewable energy to life. From the upcoming congressional recess through the Peoples Climate March and beyond, we’ll be putting pressure on lawmakers to defend the climate and building power to stop the fossil fuel industry for good.” The wide-ranging coalition behind the Peoples Climate March includes major labor unions and environmental, climate justice, faith, youth, social justice, peace groups, and more (the “Peoples” in the title is a direct reference to the role of Indigenous peoples in helping lead the effort). In 2014, the same coalition brought over 400,000 people to the streets of New York City to call for climate action ahead of the Paris Climate Summit.
By Staff of Reuters - “The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has.” "Where the 'historical context and "the specific sequence of events leading up to"' the adoption of the challenged Executive Order are as full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext as is the record here, it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context. The Court, however, declines to do so. ... The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has." "The Court recognizes that it is not the case that the Administration’s past conduct must forever taint any effort by it to address the security concerns of the nation.
By Juan Gastelum for NILC - LOS ANGELES — President Donald Trump today signed a new executive order banning entry to the U.S. of individuals from six Muslim-majority countries and of all refugees. The order is meant to supplant a previous directive issued in January that remains blocked after several courts found it was unlikely to stand up to constitutional muster. That order barred entry from seven Muslim-majority countries and also halted resettlement in the U.S. of any new refugees. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement: “Throughout the presidential campaign and even after the signing of the previous executive order banning Muslims and refugees...