WH fires back at lawmakers criticizing debt forgiveness

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The White House shot back Thursday at Republican lawmakers critical of President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness with a series of tweets pointing out loans that they had had forgiven via the Paycheck Protection Program.

The decision to cancel up to $10,000 of student loan debt for those who earn less than $125,000 a year didn’t sit well with many Republican lawmakers — many of whom had thousands of dollars in Small Business Association loans forgiven through the PPP.

“Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair. It’s also bad policy,” tweeted Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

A tweet from the White House said “Congressman Mike Kelly had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven.”

According to The Associated Press, four car dealerships owned by Kelly received $600,000 to $1.4 million. Mike Kelly Automotive Group, Mike Kelly Automotive LP and Mike Kelly Hyundai and Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac, all near Pittsburgh, received the money. A spokesman for Kelly said he wasn’t part of the loan application and isn’t involved in the operations of the dealerships, in accordance with ethics rules.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right representative from Georgia, also drew the White House’s attention after criticizing the student debt forgiveness during an appearance on Newsmax, where she called Biden’s action “totally unfair.”

“Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven,” the White House posted Thursday on Twitter.

According to ProPublica reporting that tracks PPP loans, Taylor Commercial, Inc. — a construction company owned by Taylor Greene — had a loan amount of $182,300. Including interest, a total of $183,504 was forgiven.

Taylor Greene’s website said she and her husband bought her family’s construction business before she was elected, according to an earlier report from Business Insider.

However, the White House’s clapback could be interpreted by some as misleading.

PPP loans were backed by the U.S. Small Business Association to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic and designed to be forgiven if used properly.

According to the SBA, “First Draw PPP loans made to eligible borrowers qualify for full loan forgiveness if during the 8- to 24-week covered period following loan disbursement:”

  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained
  • The loan proceeds are spent on payroll costs and other eligible expenses
  • At least 60% of the proceeds are spent on payroll costs.

Second draw loans were made eligible under the following conditions, according to the SBA:

  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained in the same manner as required for the First Draw PPP loan
  • The loan proceeds are spent on payroll costs and other eligible expenses
  • At least 60% of the proceeds are spent on payroll costs

President Biden mimicked the White House’s offensive Thursday, attacking supporters of former President Donald Trump in a speech billed as a push for unity among Democrats.

“The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security. They’re a threat to our very democracy,” Biden said.

Additionally, in a speech at a separate fundraiser Thursday night, Biden went even further, saying, “What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s almost like semi-fascism.”

Some see the remarks as adding to the divisiveness in politics, as the country is less than 80 days away from midterm elections in November.

In response, a Republican National Committee spokesman called Biden’s comments “despicable,” adding that “Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, transferred money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and sent our country into a recession while families can’t afford gas and groceries.”

“Democrats don’t care about suffering Americans — they never did,” the spokesperson continued.

The energy from the Biden Administration is an abrupt pivot from touting Biden’s legislative victories to trying to fire up Democrats, independents, and some mainstream Republicans to vote blue in November.

All this while a newly released NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ’s exclusive poll finds that 43% of Americans approve of the president — up from a record low 38% in other polls in July.

The improvement is coming as the Biden administration takes action on infrastructure, gun reform, health care, climate change and student loan forgiveness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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