World

Student Loan Forgiveness Targets Middle Class

By Aidan Trump

As a part of their Student Debt Relief Plan, the Biden Administration will erase up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers on Aug. 24, 2022. This announcement came after President Biden has been pressured by voters to respond to the student debt crisis.

As of now, there is $1.6 trillion of Federal Student Loan debt belonging to 45 million borrowers. If all of those who are eligible collect their relief, then 20 million people will have their debt completely forgiven.

The Administration will offer up to $20,000 in debt relief to borrowers who are Pell grant recipients and will offer up to $10,000 in relief to those who are not recipients of the Pell grant. 

According to Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of the Domestic Policy Council of the United States the debt relief will not go to just anyone. “This relief is targeted … [it] will go to those who need it the most,” said Rice.

President Biden echoed Rice’s claims while delivering a speech given a day later: “These targeted actions are for families who need it the most — working and middle-class people hit especially hard during the pandemic making under $125,000 a year. [If] You make more than that, you don’t qualify.” In order for borrowers to receive the relief, they must either make under $125,000, but if they are part of a household their household income must be less than $250,000. The Biden administration has stressed that nobody in the top 5% of American incomes will receive this relief. It is strictly to benefit and strengthen the middle class. 

The Biden Administration has championed the loan forgiveness plan as a path toward racial equity. Black borrowers have a disproportionate amount of student debt, but black borrowers are also two times as likely as white borrowers to have received a Pell Grant. Meaning black borrowers will benefit most from the relief.

Diminishing Abortion Access After the Death of Roe V. Wade

By Hannah Yale

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in June 2022, several states around the country began enforcing some of the strictest reproductive care restrictions since the 1970s. 

A Politico article states that in the last week of Aug. 2022, Texas, Tennessee and Idaho enacted even harsher abortion bans than they had previously. As of now, a 14 states prohibit abortion starting at conception– with very limited exceptions– and two more states have “heartbeat” law, which prohibits abortion after the fetus develops a heartbeat at six weeks.

In Texas, where a heartbeat law had already taken effect, abortion providers now risk a felony charge for providing an abortion at any point during pregnancy unless, the pregnant person’s life is in danger. The new Texas law was triggered this summer when the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization– a case that sought to challenge a Mississipi abortion ban, but it will now go down in history for overturning the precedent set by Roe v. Wade.

Abortion providers in Texas who perform abortions under illegal circumstances risk up to a life sentence in prison, and the law also states that the Attorney General shall seek a civil penalty of not less than $100,000, plus attorney’s fees.

In a brief on their website, the Texas District and County Attorneys Association said that the new law “sends up a double jeopardy red flag.” Since the 1994 Supreme Court ruling of the Department of Revenue of Montana v. Ranch, 511 U.S. 767, a defendant already convicted and punished for a criminal offense cannot have a non-remedial civil penalty imposed against him for the same offense. Doing so would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment. That being said, the state of Texas cannot legally require a civil penalty to be paid if a defendant has already been convicted, and a defendant cannot be imprisoned if they have already paid a non-remedial civil penalty for that same crime.

Political tensions have ran high since the Dobbs decision triggered dozens of state abortion bans. SMCM political science student Cara Poole said she feels that “the overturning of Roe v. Wade accomplished nothing more than further distrust in our government, as well as a larger divide between citizens of differing views.”

The attack on reproductive rights doesn’t stop at the state level, though. In fact, on Tuesday Sept. 13, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would federally ban abortions starting at 15 weeks. 

However, an article by Politico claims that many of Graham’s fellow Republican Senators are “highly perplexed at [his] decision to introduce a new abortion ban,” especially as the proposed bill is stricter than Graham’s previous attempts at federal abortion bans. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said that questions about the proposed bill should be directed to Graham and that most Republicans “prefer this be handled at the state level.”

The question of who should be in charge of regulating reproductive care is at the heart of the abortion rights debate. Poole expressed to The Point News her frustration with male politicians who are in charge of passing “laws and regulations on things that do not concern them in any way, such as abortion.” 

In Poole’s opinion, banning abortion creates more social problems than it solves, “What is the end goal to not allowing a woman who wants an abortion to get one? The ‘unwanted’ child is born and grows up in foster care, has an increased chance of (domestic) abuse and substance abuse until they die a premature death or commit crimes? Or even worse, that baby is forced to stay with a mother that does not want them and neglects them. These are bleak outcomes, but often these politicians are only thinking about one perspective.”

The Ukrainian Counterattack – A Faculty Perspective.

By Nathan Villiger 

Sept. 24 will mark seven months since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Total military casualties are approaching the hundred thousand mark, and the number of Ukrainian refugees count in the millions, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Though the Russian advance was initially rapid, by August all fronts had bogged down with gains by both sides being minimal. 

All of that changed earlier this month when the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched a major counter-offensive operation in Eastern Ukraine. Originally, their stated goal was to recapture the key Southern city of Kherson, an important port on the Black Sea. Russian sources raised their doubts, as there was no buildup of Ukrainian forces in the region; massive amounts of men and materiel would be required if the Ukrainians actually sought to recapture the region. This Russian intelligence was soon proven correct, as the Kherson push was actually a diversion. The main Ukrainian counteroffensive was instead launched much further north in Kharkiv Oblast, near the Russo-Ukrainian border. With the majority of Russian troops tied up by the 

Kherson feint, the Ukrainian advance has been rapid. 

Since Monday, Sept. 5, Ukraine has recaptured over 3,400 square miles – an area more than three times the size of Rhode Island. In comparison, after their initial offensive in February, Russian forces had only occupied about 2,000 square miles. As is typical in the fog of war, good news reporting has been fleeting. However, Ukrainian reports suggest a complete breakdown of Russian forces in the region 

With the pace of advance being so rapid, what does this mean for the broader war effort? How close is Ukraine to bringing Russia to the negotiating table? Or, will this offensive simply serve to further galvanize support amongst the Russian population, leading to a redoubling of Russian efforts? 

According to Dr. Matthew Fehrs, an SMCM political science professor, “War is essentially a negotiation on the battlefield… The better Ukraine does in Donbas, the more leverage it has in negotiations with Russia.” This success on the part of Ukrainian forces may thus translate to tangible benefits should Russia agree to a mediated peace.

However, for the time being at least Professor Fehrs believes that: “Without knowing Russia’s goals, it is difficult to see what a peace deal would look like.  Even with these surprising Ukrainian gains, the most likely outcome over the next few months is a grinding war of attrition.” Furthermore, though Ukrainian gains have been impressive, “The gains Ukraine made over the past week certainly strengthened their hand, but at the same time, those successes mean that Ukraine must now administer more territory, has longer supply lines, and is now closer to the border with Russia.”

Thus, it remains to be seen how these Ukrainian advances will ultimately affect the outcome of the war. Until the dust is settled, there is no way of knowing what the final result will be.