Pat Brothwell | OPINION COLUMNIST
The notoriously reclusive Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared on NewsMax last week to criticize Biden’s student loan forgiveness initiative as “completely unfair” despite records showing that the construction company she and her husband own had $183,504 worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven in 2020. Additional reporting by Yahoo News shows that the month after receiving a six-figure PPP loan, then congressional candidate Taylor Green donated $450,000 to her own campaign.
I figured conservative hypocrisy was imminent. I didn’t expect the official White House Twitter to showcase it. Per that account, Pennsylvania Rep Mike Kelly and Florida Rep Matt Gaetz, both vocal critics of loan forgiveness, had $987,237 and $482,321, respectively, in PPP loans forgiven.
Kelly especially stepped in it when he tweeted, “Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair, it’s bad policy,” which is willfully misleading. Wall Street advisers and lawyers typically make way over the $125,000 yearly-salary threshold for forgiveness eligibility. Despite what Republican politicians tweet, this isn’t for “elites.”
It’s bailing out indebted college-educated working-class Americans; teachers, nurses, physical therapists, customer success reps, graphic designers, realtors, small-business owners, the people you most likely live and work around, your family, friends, and neighbors.
On April 6, our own Chuck Edwards also tweeted about how “unfair” it would be to forgive student loan debt. On April 19, 2021, Charlotte’s WBTV published an article titled “Lawmakers push for PPP change that would give them tax break.”
Per that piece, “Under a law passed last year, the state currently does not tax PPP loans as income but also prevents businesses from deducting the PPP money that was spent as an expense, functionally making the money a wash. Under the proposals to change the law, PPP loans would remain un-taxed and companies could count the PPP money spent as an expense for the purposes of a tax deduction.”
The primary sponsor of the bill that “passed the committee with a unanimous voice vote, without any public disclosure that many of the lawmakers pushing for the bill owned businesses that accepted PPP money.” was good ole Chuck, who’d accepted a $1.1 million PPP government handout, and who stood to make $40,000 to $50,000 if the bill passed. You know what doesn’t seem fair to me? Using your position of power to create legal loopholes that benefit your wallet.
There’s a war of words that conservatives have perfected for years, and “handout” is the star of this semantic manipulation. Why is it a “handout” for student loans to be forgiven, but with large corporations, it’s always a “bailout?” Why is helping young people crushed with debt a “handout,” but a PPP loan isn’t?” Why are Trump’s two bankruptcies savvy business moves and not socialism?
Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, a man whose legacy needs to promptly be Paterno-ed, tweeted, “Why should a machinist in Ohio pay for the student loans of a jobless philosophy major in Los Angeles?” I’d ask why a machinist in Ohio should pay 435 congressional reps $174,000 annually for a large majority of them to spend more time tweeting than legislating?
See, the rich, the elites (who include multi-time congresspersons profiting off their connections) have done a solid job of fooling many Americans into thinking that they are above handouts or assistance, all while rigging the system with loopholes designed to give them the most government support. We squabble about handouts, the rich get richer.
On Aug. 7, our Senator Thom Tillis tweeted, “This is a slap in the face to middle and working-class Americans already struggling with high inflation who will now have to pay off the debt of higher earners.”
Tillis, however, had no problem voting for Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Acts. Per ProPublica, that bill ensured the top 1% of Americans “reaped nearly 60% of the billions in tax savings created by the provision.” Michael Bloomberg, then the 20th wealthiest person in the world, slashed his taxes by $68 million. Isn’t that a slap in the face to working-class Americans?
Since most cameos in this piece claim to be Christians, I thought we’d end with a quote by my favorite philosopher, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” He also strongly advocated helping anyone less fortunate. Conversely, I scoured the bible, but nowhere found, “Thou shalt provide tax-break handouts to billionaire space enthusiasts.”
Pat Brothwell is a former high school teacher, but current writer and marketing professional living and working in Asheville.