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Republicans Criticize Debt Forgiveness After Raking in Debt Forgiveness

President Joe Biden plans to forgive $300 billion to $600 billion of student debt, cancelling total remaining balances for about 20 million Americans and giving partial relief to another 23 million. Republicans who campaign on their piety are blasting this good Christian policy; our good Catholic President is blasting back, noting how some of the loudest Republican critics consider debt relief evil for thee but not for me:

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene had $183,504 in Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven. Rep. Vern Buchanan, $2.3 million. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, $1.4 million. Rep. Kevin Hern, $1.3 million. Rep. Mike Kelly, $987K. Rep. Matt Gaetz, $482K. All of these Republicans have said government debt relief is unfair, and all of these Republicans took government debt relief in the form of PPP checks that dwarf the $37,667 average student debt. Rep. Buchanan’s $2.3 million in PPP loan forgiveness is 115 times larger than the debt relief a Pell Grant student may get.

South Dakota’s all-Republican Congressional delegation uniformly condemns President Biden’s student debt forgiveness, with Senator john Thune calling it “unfair”, Senator Mike Rounds suggesting it’s unconstitutional, and Representative Dusty Johnson calling it a “slap in the face”. Yet the South Dakota business owners they represent took $2.7 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, almost all of which have been forgiven.

The three biggest beneficiaries of PPP loan forgiveness were Empirical Foods of Dakota Dunes (formerly BPI, the great Republican Roth family operation), Coca-Cola Bottling High Country (run by more good Republican donors), and Huron-based Dakota Provisions (the turkey plant run by Republican player Jeff Sveen). All three of the state’s top PPP recipients enjoyed over $9 million in loan forgiveness.

In small PPP potatoes, Governor Kristi Noem’s kin got $111,430 in PPP loans for their farm operations. That’s still more than five times the largest debt relief President Biden is offering to Pell Grant students.

We the people, through our government, have floated and forgiven $742 billion in loans to businesses to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, and Republicans didn’t complain much about they and they and their friends received. Republicans cannot  complain with consistency when President Biden continues the pandemic relief effort in the form of forgiving some student debt.


  1. leslie 2022-08-26 08:29

    examination of wealthy, corporate and powerful tax schemes, loan forgiveness and the “buy, borrow and die” method of tax avoidance leads to microscopic taxation rates for warren buffet and every other privileged person in the world, and we know they are also coming to SD to stockpile and shield that wealth as we occasionally consider here. IRS is made out to be the “AK-15 toting agents Democrats are supporting” that Chuck Grassley is the currently assigned GOP attack dog of misinformation.

    Apologists here will remind that it is all perfectly legal but are the big picture natl/intntl policies benefiting billionaires conscionable? NAW! Some privacy rights seem to be more important than those of average people who pay 15% taxes. The billionaire/corporate rate averages 3%.

    Bezos, Buffet etc pay NO federal tax.

    How the ultrawealthy devise ways to not pay their share of taxes
    by Dave Davies NPR podcast yesterday

  2. Donald Pay 2022-08-26 08:30

    See, Cory, it ain’t “socialism” or “debt forgiveness” if it’s the elite Republicans getting the money. There’s no one more on the government dole than the Republican elite who want to lecture us about how “unfair” Biden’s debt relief plan is.

  3. Phil 2022-08-26 09:42

    Don’t forget the bailouts and “don’t have to go to jail” cards for the “too big to fail” crowd a few years back. Nothing new here.

  4. P. Aitch 2022-08-26 11:22

    It matters little how much Republican congresspeople complain.
    They’re going to complain no matter what, so doing the right thing is the right thing to do.
    This loan forgiveness is a necessary leveling of the books before Universal Higher Education is initiated next Congressional term.
    In Short: If you pass the entrance exam your higher education is guaranteed by law to be unencumbered by debt including room and board.

  5. Joe 2022-08-26 12:45

    i see the usual GOP apologist commentariat has had nothing to say so far on this post. Gosh, I wonder why?

  6. P. Aitch 2022-08-26 12:56

    That’s easy to answer, Joe. PP has numerous kids in college and will have a lot of debt erased by Joe “Steady” Biden’s program. Just one of numerous liberal programs he and Dr. Powers benefit from. I think Patrick is pretty liberal, himself. He’s just acting conservative because of severe Daddy issues and to make a buck from selling campaign cardboard.

  7. Ryan 2022-08-26 14:57

    Cory, I think you meant “Rep. Buchanan’s $2.3 million in PPP loan forgiveness is 115 times larger…” because the pell grant folks can potentially receive 20k in loan forgiveness, not just the 10k everyone else would receive.

    Biden had a great sound bite that so few people are paying attention to. I fight with idiots on conservative news sites often (for sport) and when they take the GOP bait that this loan forgiveness is taking money from poor taxpayers and giving it to harvard grads or whatever… I keep reminding them of this fact:

    90% of folks who will benefit from student loan forgiveness live on less than $75k HOUSEHOLD income. These people aren’t rich.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-26 17:39

    Ryan, you are right! I typed the wrong number. I regret the error and have corrected it above.

    And yes, excellent response to the people trying to manufacture class warfare out of this debt relief. Truckers aren’t paying for Harvard gradas in silk suits. We Americans, with all of our great wealth, are canceling the debt of people who aren’t making enough to get out of that debt. We Americans, with all of our great wealth, are helping more Americans live decent lives—not extravagant lives of luxury, just lives with less constant anxiety about endless debt.

  9. leslie 2022-08-27 12:26

    2/ IRS agents are receiving Trumpist threats now. In 2010 Republicans gutted the IRS budget by $2 Billion. The tens of thousands of its best employees have left for the private sector, and an ancient Computer System, inefficient fax system, leave the agency on life support w/ audits of the wealthy slashed by 80%; the largest corporations used to be audited more than once a year, but now is leaving 50% of them unaudited permitted tax evasion and uncollected corporate tax revenue. Evasion is never prosecuted now.

    McCarthy and Grassley however lie that the IRS has “four million guns” to protect corporations and ultra wealthy. As a result working poor, living pay check to pay check, are audited producing very onerous circumstances much more so than on the wealthy. This falls mostly on black populated counties. The tax system is deeply unfair relying on the social welfare policy of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

    The IRS is under-matched to examine the tax avoidance schemes produced by the battalions of lawyers and accountants of the ultra wealthy. Borrowed money is not taxed. It is never paid back. Elon Musk and Larry Ellison are examples. They live on borrowed money yet have no income that is taxable.

    Capital gains income is also taxed less than labor income. It is very simple tax avoidance, by policy. National policy favors the wealthy.

    Unrealized income is not taxed.

    Business “losses” are written off against income on real estate developments and hobby businesses. Buildings appreciate but they get to say for accounting purposes they have depreciated. “Beanie Babies” come to mind. That illegal Swiss Bank account was not prosecuted. He now focuses on elite hotels.

    Hyper-wealth of this era does not technically earn income. Their power warps politics. Biden has accordingly failed to tax the wealthy. Elite impunity. Crime unprosecuted.

    Yet South Dakota has a new billionaire industry.

    Yet we cannot protect our water and our planet’s climate.

    Warren Buffet believes keeping his money from the federal government allows him to better allocate (his tax rate is .0 percent) money for social welfare, contrary to democracy principles. We subsidize his ability enormously so he can give to his private “charities” rather than federal retirement for the elderly.

    Income inequality is where the political power is, and Republicans protect and usurp this power. Cynically.

  10. leslie 2022-08-27 12:29

    .01 percent

  11. Jake 2022-08-27 14:14

    Leslie, so well put and evidence provided! Thank you for tht post! If only main street media would print such;n how about an editorial to the R c Journal? Please Do! Would be great to have opinions clntrary to Goodwin, andother west river Repubs that always pollute the Journal with their “brainfarts”.. Consider it, lady, not a 200 word letter but what you wrote above enlarged???

  12. All Mammal 2022-08-27 18:53

    I second what Jake says, Leslie. You complement Mr. H’s blog nicely and consistently point out relevant arguments that should be read by all sides of the issue.

  13. Francis Schaffer 2022-08-28 21:40

    Love your insights and examples. I want you to ponder my question. Are political monetary contributions pre tax or post tax? I thought they are post tax. If that is the case shouldn’t all political monetary contributions be taxed, both income and social security, at the highest rates in the tax code so no person has more ‘speech’ with the same $ donation?
    Thank you.

  14. leslie 2022-08-29 00:51

    francis, as no expert in tax or politics, I’d say pre-tax*, at least in this giant recent example:

    A new group led by a prominent conservative lawyer has received $1.6 billion from one donor (Barre Seid, a low-profile, 90-year-old Chicago electronics company executive and philanthropist who has previously been tied to smaller anonymous contributions to other right-wing groups) – [this is] the largest single contribution to a politically focused nonprofit that’s ever been made public, and a fortune that could be used to fuel right-wing interests.

    The nonprofit, Marble Freedom Trust, received the contribution in the form of stock and then funneled more than $200 million to other conservative organizations last year, a tax form CNN obtained from the IRS shows. Marble Freedom is led by Leonard Leo, the co-chairman of the conservative Federalist Society, who advised former President Donald Trump on his Supreme Court picks and runs a sprawling network of other right-wing nonprofits that don’t disclose their donors, which are often referred to as dark money groups.

    “Dark money” generally refers to nonprofits that get involved in politics but do not disclose their donors, a practice that significantly ramped up after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. Many dark money groups, like Marble Freedom, are 501(c)4 organizations – nonprofits that are allowed to participate in politics as long as it is not their primary activity. 

    …the Marble Freedom donation dramatically eclipses even the largest of the previously known groups. 

    Marble Freedom’s tax return covers its initial year of existence between May 2020 and April 2021. The gift of just over $1.6 billion came in the form of 100% of the stock of a privately held company, which Marble Freedom then sold to another company, according to the tax form. 

    The arrangement likely saved Seid a large amount of money in taxes*, according to Marcus Owens, an attorney and former director of the IRS division on tax-exempt organizations, who reviewed the form for CNN. If Seid had personally sold the stock in the company, he would likely have had to pay capital gains tax on the proceeds of the sale. By donating the stock to Marble Freedom, he avoided having to pay that tax, and the nonprofit would be exempt from paying it.

    Marble Freedom wrote that it was withholding information about which company was donated and who it sold to because “disclosing it would effectively disclose the identity of its donors.” But details about the donation connect it to the sale of the Chicago-based electrical device firm Tripp Lite, whose longtime chairman was Seid. 

    After receiving the donated stock, Marble Freedom sold the company on March 17, 2021, according to the tax form. The same day, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents, the American-Irish power company Eaton acquired Tripp Lite for $1.65 billion. 

    During the sale, “the sole shareholder of Tripp Lite” was represented by New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, Law360 reported at the time. Less than two weeks later, Marble Freedom paid Sullivan & Cromwell $940,000 in legal fees, the tax form shows. A spokesperson for Eaton said the company would not provide more details about the acquisition, and several lawyers involved in the transaction did not respond to requests for comment.

    I suppose Leo can perhaps write-off the legal and other fees and costs of the contribution. Tax questions often are notoriously complex.

  15. leslie 2022-08-29 10:02

    Leo’s anonymously funded network spent tens of millions to boost the nomination campaigns of three conservative supreme court justices, after leading a campaign supporting Republicans’ refusal to hold a vote on Barack Obama’s 2016 high court nominee, Merrick Garland.

    and on and on….

    Kochs etc Trusts etc money laundering etc Trump/Putin etc private jet to Kingsbury County etc

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