We need Student Debt Forgiveness Day too

Tax credits that reduce child poverty and help families make ends meet are popular. And rightfully so. But so is blanket student loan forgiveness for all borrowers.

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It’s Monday, June 21. Here’s what you need to know this evening.

We need Student Debt Forgiveness Day too

Today is Child Tax Credit Forgiveness Day, a designation the Biden-Harris administration created to make sure parents know about how they can collect a few extra coins each month from the American Rescue Plan’s broad expansion of the Child Tax Credit.

And don’t get me wrong: On the one hand, I’m stoked that the president is prioritizing the needs of working families and redistributing resources to them. But on the other, I’m wondering if there are plans to schedule Student Debt Forgiveness Day on the calendar at any time soon. Because while borrowers have had a reprieve from their payments for a year and a half after the Department of Education offered them the option to pause their bills without interest accruing March 2020, bills will be due again this fall. Tax credits that reduce child poverty and help families make ends meet are popular. And rightfully so. But so is blanket student loan forgiveness for all borrowers, according to new polling released last week.

Meanwhile, the pandemic fissured many of the inequities many marginalized communities live with every day. Just as recently as May, one-third of all adults with children said they’re struggling to pay their usual expenses like food, rent, health care and transportation. One in eight adults living with children reports food insecurity. One in five renters living with children is behind on rent. The long-term consequences are dire for these children are dire without public intervention. And although education is supposed to be the great equalizer that accelerates upward mobility for the working and creative classes, a degree isn’t a wealth generator for Black students because college is so expensive, as I wrote last December.

When Congress passed the ARP in March, it increased the child tax credit to $3000 for families with children between six and 17 years old and $3600 for families with kiddos under six. It also allowed for half of the tax cut to be advanced to families through a monthly check or direct deposit starting next month. Throughout the day, the president has encouraged elected officials, children’s advocacy groups and faith-based organizations to sign up families for the Child Tax Credit as a “lifeline out of poverty.”

The ARP’s Child Tax Credit is only for 2021 though. So the president has proposed a multi-year extension in his $2-trillion American Families Plan. As for student debt forgiveness, President Biden has rejected calls from the left to cancel up to $50,000, which would completely eliminate the burden of three in four borrowers. Instead, he’s waiting on Congress to pass a bill that forgives a maximum of $10,000. Something is definitely better than nothing. But it’s unlikely Biden will realize the bold vision of the future he campaigned on unless he’s willing to swing as big for individuals borrowers as he has for other families.

In the Know

  • Scientists are working on coronavirus booster shots, a necessary extra layer of defense as early studies suggest antibody levels against the virus weaken over time. [Laura Kammermann / The Wall Street Journal]

  • A new study found that boys raised in low-income families experience worse adult outcomes than girls raised in low-income families, an indicator that gender inequality has been reducing while income inequality has been widening. [Richard V. Reeves and Sarah Nzau / Brookings Institute]

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to offer gender confirmation surgery to trans veterans as part of its commitment to “establishing policy that will ensure the equitable treatment and safety of transgender veterans.” [Annie Karni / The New York Times]

  • 50 percent of first-time cannabis users, many of whom are women or Gen Zers, are enjoying weed five days or more per week, while 22 percent are doing so multiple times per day. [Iris Dorbian / Forbes]

  • In a new interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah Jones speaks about why it’s harmful to pretend “that the news we see is being led by objective arbiters of fact.” [David Folkenflik / NPR]

The Supercreator Conversation: Mike Jones — aka, my Dad! — on fatherhood

In honor of Father’s Day, I checked in with my Dad to talk about our relationship for Supercreator Select. Below are a few highlights (and an adorbs picture of Pops and me from back in the day):

  • On how he and my Mom adapted to my expressive personality: “Now, me and your Mom many times had our shoulders shrugged and palms up because it was always new with you. You were vocal. You had your opinions. And you did not mind stating it. And what I learned is that I had to transition. I didn't want to box you in and not allow you to have a voice. So instead of me asking you to adapt, it was something that I chose to do because I got to experience more of your personality. I never wanted to shut that down. And to this day is one of your biggest assets.” (Editor’s note: 🥺)

  • On his most challenging aspect of parenting: “Trying to stay consistent when you know, there are two other beings watching you. You as a son, how I treated your Mom and you watching that and hopefully not having many memories of me mistreating her. I mean, me and your Mom have been through some stuff but it's not something that infiltrated the upbringing for you and your sister. So knowing that two other people we're going to be influenced by what you did or what you did not do. And even when your children don’t understand that you’re doing what you think is best, still doing those things because you think it's this. And then sometimes not even knowing if what you're doing is the best or the right thing to do.”

Read the full interview (subscription required).

Read All About It

Gunjan Sinha at Mother Jones on why Americans pay through the nose for brand-name drugs:

A 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation survey of more than a thousand Americans found that 29 percent did not take their medicines as prescribed at some point during the previous year because of cost; 8 percent reported that the lapse made their illness worse. The reasons for high prescription drug prices in America are complex and varied. But the patent system, Krishtel says, is one culprit.

Drug patents allow companies to recoup the costs of inventing a drug and reap rewards for innovation. For an entirely new drug, a US patent enables a company to sell it exclusively for a set period of time, typically for 20 years from the date it was filed. After the patent expires, other companies are allowed to market generic versions.

But companies have been abusing the patent system to extend their market monopolies, says Krishtel.

Karl W. Smith at Bloomberg on why America should become a nation of renters:

A nation of renters could lead to a world where location decisions are driven far more by personal preferences and life-cycle demands. Younger workers might prefer the excitement of the city. A couple just starting a family could reunite with their parents or siblings in a small town.

The U.S. is not quite there yet, and not just because too many people are chasing too few apartments. To see the U.S. as a nation of renters requires a revision of the American dream of homeownership. This country was always more about new frontiers than comfortable settlements, anyway.

Evan Osnos at The New Yorker on Sen. Joe Manchin:

If politics is the art of the possible, Manchin’s likes and dislikes may determine what is possible for the Democrats—on police reform, gun safety, expansions of labor and L.G.B.T.Q. rights, and legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants—in the two crucial years before the midterm elections, when they risk losing control of Congress. Whether or not his peers like it, his unease with some key elements of the progressive agenda reflects the views of millions of Americans, not only people like him—what we might call Tommy Bahama Democrats, the prosperous boomers who look askance at Trump-supporting friends but have no plans to stop inviting them for dinner—but also rural voters who feel estranged from the Democratic Party. Manchin’s power is forcing Democrats to expand their focus on systemic inequities to encompass places like West Virginia, where substandard schools, high poverty, and distrust of government helped fuel radical conservatism. In that sense, Manchin’s innate conservatism also sets boundaries around the Party’s instincts, forestalling transformative changes that could drive away moderate voters in 2022 and 2024.

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic on the authoritarian instincts of police unions:

Like any other type of union, police unions view their duty as protecting the interests of their dues-paying members. Yet these unions are fundamentally different, because their members are armed agents of the state. In practice, this means police unions reflexively come to the defense of men like Chauvin, while opposing any meaningful reforms of department procedures. The most modest attempts at change—banning choke holds or even gathering data on misconduct—are met with fierce resistance.

Americans are presently engaged in a debate about how to reform police departments to prevent the unlawful killing of civilians by officers, as well as other, nonlethal abuses of power. Reining in police unions may not seem like the most urgent response to this crisis. But no reform effort can hope to succeed given their power today. As long as they exist in anything like their current form, police unions will condition their members to see themselves as soldiers at war with the public they are meant to serve, and above the laws they are meant to enforce.

John Patrick Leary at The New Republic on the performative rhetoric of allyship:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with encouraging listening, empathy, and humility—but these are also entry-level social skills. Shouldn’t we demand more of people who aspire to participate in a political struggle? Many critics of the allyship model have described it as performative and therapeutic, a self-righteous theater of “well-meaning white people” who want to talk about problems without doing much else. In The White Ally Toolkit Workbook, the consultant David Campt, a self-described “coach and thought leader of effective dialogue strategies,” responds to those criticisms by saying that direct conversation among white people can move white public opinion on racism in America. As Campt puts it, white people need to talk to “Cousin Hannah or Uncle Tristan,” confronting them about their racial biases.

Eric Levitz at Intelligencer on why a world of high wages and cheap burrito bowls is possible:

But the notion that middle-class Americans can’t enjoy rising living standards unless working-class Americans live on the edge of poverty is not only wrong. It’s quite plausibly the opposite of the truth. Firms can make goods and services cheaper by driving down wages. But they can also do so by increasing productivity. And there’s substantial evidence that loose labor markets — and hyper-exploitable workers — are actually impediments to productivity growth.

Michael’s Pick

Pottery Barn Trenton File Organizer ($99): As any New Yorker can testify, home office space is often a premium. So I’m excited to put one of my walls to work with this sleek mixed-metal organizer.