We've just about arrived at the point where the corrupt, stolen and packed rightwing U.S. Supreme Court almost isn't even trying to hide their corruption anymore. And, yes, as discussed today on The BradCast, that includes the Chief Justice. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up, Lori Lightfoot, the first black female and openly gay Mayor of Chicago was reportedly knocked out of contention in her reelection bid on Tuesday. It is the first time in 40 years that an incumbent Mayor was unseated. (The last one was the city's first female Mayor.) Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson will go on to compete in the run-off set for April 4. Vallas is a "tough on crime" candidate vowing to add hundreds of police to the streets of the nation's third-largest city. He is supported by the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, whose leader defended January 6 insurrectionists and equated Lightfoot's vaccine mandate for city workers to the Holocaust. Johnson, an African-American supported by the teachers union and progressive organizations, has called for more money to be spent not on police, but for mental health care, education, jobs and affordable housing.
Next, we're joined by DAVID DAYEN, progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect to discuss Tuesday's oral arguments at SCOTUS on two different challenges --- both largely absurd --- to President Biden's student loan forgiveness program. But for being blocked by Republican-appointed lower court federal judges, the plan would forgive up to $20,000 for federal student loan borrowers making less than $125,000/year under the authority of the HEROES Act. The 2003 law, adopted by Congress and signed by the President in the wake of 9/11, grants authority to the Education Secretary to "waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision" regarding student loan programs in the event of a national emergency.
Despite the legal authority granted by the clear language of the text, Republican lower court judges have blocked the program to date, and the corrupt rightwing Justices at SCOTUS seemed to be working hard to do the same during the 3-and-a-half hour hearing at the high court on Tuesday, according to Dayen. The Biden Administration, as he explains, has invoked the very same legal authority from the HEROES Act to "waive" student loan payments as the Trump Administration used to pause them during the pandemic. Of course, neither Trump's authority to do so, nor its authority to issue hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable PPP loans to small businesses during the crisis, was challenged in court --- or saw its "fairness" questioned --- by Republican litigants. Low income student loan borrowers, however, are apparently a different matter.
There are two different sets of GOP plaintiffs challenging Biden's plan. One (Biden v. Nebraska) is a group of six Republican-controlled states (Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas and South Carolina) and the other (Dept. of Education v. Brown) is two individuals who failed to qualify for student loan forgiveness. It seems that neither group of plaintiffs should have legal standing to sue at all in these cases, as neither seems to be able to demonstrate any real harm or injury. If these cases are to be tossed, it will likely be on those grounds. But, the Court's rightwingers sure did seem to want to block this program during Tuesday's hearing, citing the absurd and wholly-made-up, found-nowhere-in-the-Constitution "Major Questions Doctrine" as just one way to do so.
Dayen details the entire fiasco for us today. The Court will issue its opinion no later than June or July as hundreds of billions in financial relief for those need it most hangs in the balance.
Also discussed with Dayen today: The high court has decided to hear a case on whether the funding mechanism for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) --- the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration following the 2008 financial crisis as the only federal watchdog agency focused mainly on consumers --- is unconstitutional. "If you believe it is," quips Dayen, "then you believe that not only numerous other agencies in the federal government have unconstitutional funding structures, but things like Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional." A similar funding mechanism has been used for decades, without challenge, by the FDIC, the FDA, the Federal Reserve and many others.
Dayen describes the ruling that the CFPB's entire funding mechanism is unconstitutional as coming from the "deeply radical" 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He seems to be hoping that SCOTUS has decided to hear this case next term (which begins in October) in order to reverse or, at least clarify, the lower court's ruling. We'll see if he's right about that.
Finally, we discuss drug-maker Eli Lilly's announcement today that the company plans to lower the cost for insulin, after President Biden and the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act, adopted last year, capped expenses for the drug at $35/month for federally insured patients, such as those on Medicare. Also, we discuss today's announcement of the nomination of Julie Su as Biden's new Labor Secretary to replace the departing Marty Walsh. As Dayen reports, the clever appointment of Su, a California progressive, will place her in charge of the Department whether her nomination is blocked in the Senate or not...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)