Plaintiff in Biden student debt lawsuit pardoned for PPP loan
The applicant in a lawsuit to cancel President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation program was itself a beneficiary of the debt cancellation, in the form of a Paycheck Protection Program business loan worth more than double the maximum amount covered by Biden’s program.
Myra Brown, one of two plaintiffs in the lawsuit in Texas, owns Desert Star Enterprises Inc. Desert Star, which appears to be a sign-making company, took out a loan of $48,000, including $47,996 has been forgiven on April 27, 2022. By comparison, Biden’s student debt forgiveness program offers a maximum of $20,000 in forgiveness if the person seeking relief received a federal Pell grant and $10,000 if not was not a Pell grant. Brown argues in her case that she is harmed by Biden’s debt relief order because she is not eligible for it because her student loans were originally funded by private companies.
Brown’s case is part of a series of right wing trial aimed at ending Biden’s student debt cancellation program. Although many were fired due to lack of status, this one was not. A judge appointed by Donald Trump, Mark T. Pittman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, has indicated he wants to speed up the process.
Student debt relief advocates say the lawsuits are astroturf efforts by right-wing political organizations. “These sham lawsuits are blatantly fabricated by right-wing organizations funded by billionaires whose sole purpose is to play dirty politics,” Debt Collective spokesperson Braxton Brewington told The Intercept. “These plaintiffs aren’t actually harmed by student debt forgiveness, they’re just willing to be political pawns for black money groups that will do anything to deny working people financial breathing room.”
When The Intercept contacted Brown for comment, she texted back a photo of a print that read “we have no comment” and directing any inquiries to the Job Creators Network, a conservative advocacy organization that funds the trial. The Job Creators Network was founded by the CEO of Home Depot and funded by the conservative Mercer Family Foundation.
“The Paycheck Protection Program is not comparable to the Biden bailout,” Elaine Parker, president of the Job Creators Network, told The Intercept. “Congress passed the PPP, making it a legal program; Biden bypassed Congress, making it illegal. The PPP was an emergency measure to help small businesses survive government lockdowns. PPP was always designed to be forgiven if certain parameters were met.
The Intercept also promptly received an email from TJ Winer, who identified himself as an employee of the Job Creators Network Foundation, from an email address with the domain name CRC Advisors, a communications company of crisis. The CRC’s main funder is the Federalist Society, the powerful conservative legal group whose members include the six conservative Supreme Court justices – many of whom the Federalist Society has championed and helped guide their appointments; Pittman, the federal judge handling the case, is himself a vice president and a Founding Member of the Tarrant County Federalist Society.
In 2019, the CRC found itself in hot water over its attempts to clear then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct allegations. After working with conservative legal activist Ed Whelan to launch demands for a doppleganger Blasey Ford took for Kavanaugh, Whelan recanted the allegations and apologized for what he called “an appalling and inexcusable error in judgement”.
Proponents of student debt relief have criticized the hypocrisy of business owners who are comfortable with debt relief for their own businesses, but not for students. “Like the Republican members of Congress who took out PPP loans while denouncing student borrowers seeking relief, Myra Brown believes in ‘debt relief for me but not for you,'” Brewington told The intercept. “This hypocrisy only underscores the cynical motives of the plaintiffs and the lack of merit in their case, which should be dismissed.”
In August, Biden took a blow at Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying, “I find it absolutely fascinating that some of the people talking about ‘it’s a big spend’ are the same people who got $158,000 in P3s, including the, what’s the name? her, this woman who believes in the – anyhow. The official White House Twitter account later called Greene by name, clarifying that the figure was actually a bit higher: $183,504 in canceled PPP loans.
Brewington also called on Biden to use additional powers to block these types of lawsuits. “Instead of letting student debt relief be reversed by these bad faith actors and Trump-appointed judges, President Biden should use his power of compromise and settlement to cancel student debt, thus cutting the grass under the foot of these bogus lawsuits and keeping his promise,” he said.
Pittman is one of 200 federal judges appointed by Trump, a group that includes nearly as many appeals court judges as Barack Obama appointed in his two terms. Given Pittman’s right-wing associations, proponents of student debt relief fear his conservative leanings could lead to the case being upheld. This summer, Pittman struck down a Texas law banning people under 21 from carrying handguns, citing “foundation-era history and tradition.”