MR Daily Review
Wednesday, August 24th
1. Biden announces $10,000 in student debt relief, $20,000 for people who received a pell grant, payment pause until December 31, 2022 (happy new year). Today the Biden administration announced up to $20,000 in student loan relief for the 43 million plus Americans who currently hold student loan debt. The relief is for all Americans with student loan debt who make under $125,000, $20,000 in forgiveness for those who received a pell grant and $10,000 for everyone else. The administration also continued the payment pause “one final time” keeping student loans paused until December 31st 2022. The move comes after months of “will he or won’t he” between Joe Biden and the millions of Americans holding student loan debt. Bernie Sanders has long pushed Biden to forgive all student debt. Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer were asking for $50,000. But ultimately Biden landed on $20,000 for the lowest income borrowers and $10,000 for everyone else. It’s a victory, it’s a start, and it’s great for people who are now free of student loan debt. It will leave millions holding student loans still and is far from a structural solution to the $1.7 trillion dollar student debt crisis.
2. Do Democrats have a chance? For months the conventional wisdom on the 2024 midterms was that it’s going to be a bloodbath with the Republicans securing both houses of Congress. In recent weeks the narrative has shifted. Weak candidates have many wondering whether Republicans can win back the Senate, specifically the flailing campaigns of Herschel Walker in Georgia and Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania. Even Mitch McConnell is tamping down expectations along these lines declaring that Democrats might hold the Senate and it will come down to “candidate quality” subtly blaming Republican voters if he fails to become Senate Majority Leader in the fall. It also appears however that Democrats may have a small chance to keep the House as well and they definitely at least seem poised to keep it closer than it would have been pre-Dobbs. There has been a spate of special election victories for house seats where Democrats have outperformed Joe Biden’s 2020 numbers and held on to seats Republicans felt they could snag. Pat Ryan, a Democrat who won a special election in New York’s Hudson Valley, was the latest. Whether it’s enough to hold on to the House remains to be seen. I’d guess it won’t be, but the Dobbs decision seems to have energized Democrats and may keep them the Senate and keep the House closer than expected.
3. At least 22 killed in Russian bombing of Ukranian subway station. Today was Ukranian independence day and the people of Kyiv stood in defiance of the Russian invasion and in celebration of their country. The celebration was mute for the most part as drones flew a Ukranian flag above the city and a concert was recorded for citizens in a bomb shelter. The holiday marks Ukraine’s independence from the USSR and in some ways is a thumb in Putin’s face and his goals of reclaiming ceded Soviet territory. In the midst of that celebration Russia bombed a railway station killing at least 22 Ukranians. The quiet celebration was in part due to this very threat. The war continues and just this week the United States approved billions more in funding. Every death is a tragedy and every dollar spent encouraging those deaths is as well. Reports differ almost weekly as to who is winning the war which has increasingly stalled on both sides depending on the region of Ukraine where fighting is examined. The longer that status quo continues the more people will die and the worse that is for everyone.
4. Socialists win in New York and Florida. Socialists netted at least two important victories in New York’s primary yesterday with a wins for state senators Jabari Brisport who faced two challengers, and Kristen Gonzalez who handily beat Elizabeth Crowley, cousin of Joseph Crowley, centrist Dem who famously made sure Obamacare was as insurance-friendly as possible, and perhaps even more famously, got his ass kicked in 2018 by AOC. Julia Salazar who won her first election in the same year as AOC did not face a primary challenge (ie, won). Other results are still trickling in, although David Alexis, one of the DSA-endorsed slate, lost. Bernie endorsed Florida house candidate Maxwell Frost won his election handily – if elected, he will be the first Gen-Z member of Congress. We love our Gen-Z comrades! <3
5. Disappointingly, Dan Goldman eeks out win in NY’s 10th after the left vote is split. Unfortunately, It looks like Goldman, Levi-Strauss heir who bought his win, with 16,686 votes, is likely to beat progressive Yuh-Line Niou, who is currently at 15,380 votes. A true loss, it would have been valuable to have a Niou in Congress, who backs Medicare-for-all and other progressive policies, instead of a real-estate aligned conservative Democrat. NY’s 10th district is one of the most progressive areas in the country, but the left vote was split among Niou, and several other worthy candidates including current Representative Mondaire Jones and Carlina Rivera, a progressive City Council Member. Jones and Rivera each garnered 11,777 and 10,985 votes – clearly, Goldman, representing the right wing of the Democratic Party, is not representative of the actual views of the majority in the district who overwhelmingly chose a far more progressive candidate. It is worth noting that Jones only decided to run in the district after he was put in a very difficult position after the messy New York redistricting, that left him the choice of either running against his current colleague in the House, Jahmal Bowman, or in NY10. In the wake of the disappointing results, there has been some discussion that Niou could potentially run in the general election against Goldman on the Working Families Party line – a spot that is reserved for Jones, but he has said he will leave clear for Niou. We will have to see. It is also worth noting the Gothamist has reported widespread confusion about who was eligible to vote in the primary. Although the state Democratic Party holds a closed primary (ie, only registered Democrats were allowed to participate), some local branches gave mistaken guidance that any registered voter could participate. Despite being deeply blue, the Cuomo-led essentially one-party state is notorious for its voter suppression tactics. A true loss, as it likely means many votes were not able to be cast. It could be encouraging if interest in voting is up.