Student Debt Forgiveness Goes To Court | Crooked Media
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December 01, 2022
What A Day
Student Debt Forgiveness Goes To Court

In This Episode

  • President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program is headed to the Supreme Court. While the plan is blocked for now, the justices will hear arguments in February to decide whether the administration has the authority to cancel federal student loan debt for millions of borrowers.
  • Crooked’s new workplace advice podcast “Work Appropriate” covers everything from how to deal with pushy bosses, to the systemic issues that plague many industries. Host Anne Helen Peterson tells us how a period of burn-out made her think differently about the world of work.
  • And in headlines: survivors of the Uvalde school shooting sued law enforcement agencies in Texas over their response to the massacre, a federal appeals court dismissed the “special master” in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, and the Senate passed legislation to block a nationwide rail strike.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, December 2nd. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. And this is What A Day where we now find ourselves deep in the heart of peppermint latte season. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m still on team hot chocolate. Can y’all stop putting candy and stuff into my hot drinks? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wait, do you like a peppermint hot chocolate? Or are you just a purist? 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m a red blooded American. Okay, Priyanka. I love regular hot chocolate. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m so sorry. I am so sorry. [music break] On today’s show, an appeals court shut down the special master review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. Plus, Elon Musk is working on another business venture. This one involves putting chips into human brains. 


Tre’vell Anderson: No, thank you. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, thanks. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, an important update in the journey to getting my and maybe your student loan debt forgiven. As we know, earlier this year, President Biden announced a plan to forgive up to $20,000 for millions of people with federal student loans. But there have been a number of legal challenges to the plan, putting the whole thing in limbo. And now, as many of us expected, the student loan forgiveness program is headed to the Supreme Court. Yesterday, the justices agreed to decide whether the Biden administration can institute its debt forgiveness plan. The case has been put on an unusually fast track as arguments will be heard in February. In the meantime, though, the Supreme Court has left in place an injunction blocking the program’s implementation. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So can you tell us a little bit more about the case that got us here? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So like I said, there are a number of legal challenges out there to the forgiveness program. But perhaps the most serious one is the suit filed by six GOP led states Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina, also known as South Cackalacky. It’s their case that the Supreme Court will be deciding on, in which the states say that Biden’s loan forgiveness plan would deprive them of future tax revenue and that he would be overstepping his authority. The Biden administration asserts that they do have the authority to do this because of the Heroes Act of 2003, which allows the Education Secretary to waive regulations related to student loans during times of war or national emergency. We are still under a national emergency declaration since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, a declaration, by the way, that was announced by Donald Trump. And so while the courts are doing what they do, the administration has stopped accepting applications for the loan forgiveness program. But out of the 26 million they received before that closure, 16 million applications, including mine, have already been processed and approved. We all, however, have to wait and see if the debt relief will really come until the Supreme Court makes its decision. In light of this, the pause on payments for federal student loans was extended yet again until June. So theoretically, we will have some kind of final answer to this saga by then. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I hope. And I mean, I hope it’s the answer that all 26 million of these– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –People are looking for. I mean, like what’s happening here? I mean, through no fault of the Biden administration, I don’t blame them for this. It’s GOP led states that are kind of putting up the roadblock here. Think of the consequences of if 26 million people were told by the government that, oh, this will happen, you fill out this like if you are approved, we will forgive X amount of your loan debt and then it just never happens. Like the GOP led states know exactly what they’re doing. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Priyanka Aribindi: By putting up a roadblock. And if this doesn’t happen, like this is the kind of thing that shatters people’s confidence in what government can do for them, disillusions them with our government in general. And obviously I believe that student debt should be forgiven. But also like this is terrifying because it could, it could ruin participation in our democracy for a generation. It really could. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s terrifying to think about. But anyways, want to switch gears a little bit, something a little lighter, but also has heavy moments in there too. [laughing] I guess. Uh. But many of us, including all of us here on WAD, had some time off for the holiday last week. And we have spent this week kind of easing ourselves back into our daily routines and the daily grind of work. And you know how it is when you get to have, you know, some time away from your regular work schedule. I feel like we all have a little bit more of a capacity to kind of consider our routines in general. Zoom out a little bit, consider what’s working for us and what isn’t, all of which kind of fits right in with the topics covered on Crooked’s brand new podcast Work Appropriate. It’s a workplace advice show that covers a whole range of topics ranging from, you know, basic quandaries like how do I get my boss to stop texting me after hours. Some of the bigger, more systemic issues in our workplaces and in our world. Tre’vell and I got to interview the host of Work Appropriate, Anne Helen Peterson in Crooked’s L.A. Studio. It was a really fascinating and fun conversation that we want to share with all of you. So we started by asking her how exactly she got into the business, so to speak, of talking about work. 


Anne Helen Peterson: I burnt out and then I wrote about it. So about four years ago, because I remember the real lead up to it was the last midterm elections, was going just full blast. I was working for BuzzFeed News at the time, just traveling a ton, reporting a ton, working all the time and couldn’t figure out like, oh, the midterms are over and I took a spa day and why do I feel still so flat and like just mad at everyone all the time. And started digging into that and ended up writing this essay about how millennials became the burnout generation, which went viral, was turned into a book, and the process of turning it into a book really gave me the space to read and think a ton about how did work get the way that it is? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You’re saying so many things that I feel like we want to follow up on. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But I’m going to stay on topic here. [laughing] Someone on Twitter recently described your podcast as something like, you know, a podcast version of the late night radio host Delilah. But for people with work problems and, you know, many of the conversations you’ve had on the pod are kind of taken from these listener submitted questions that they have problems, issues in their workplaces. So what are some of the things that people have been asking you about? 


Anne Helen Peterson: Oh, my gosh. So we have this Google form, right? But like you could just go to, on the Crooked site and you can just fill it out and you can be as anonymous as you want to be. And some of the stuff is just like I have a lot of degrees. I get paid barely enough to survive. I love my–


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: –Work. My workplace itself is really toxic. What do I do? Right. Do I quit my job? Do I quit my industry? How do I where like–


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: Where do we go from here? Like those sorts of things. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Tackling some big questions there. 


Anne Helen Peterson: All sorts, so there’s–


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh wow. 


Anne Helen Peterson: –so many good ones. But then also, what do you do about it? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Do you find that like the answers that y’all are coming up with on the podcast? Does it feel the same? Does it feel similar? Because I feel like these conversations around work, we’re all talking about it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right? We’re all talking about how, you know, we hate our jobs or that like our jobs are asking too much of us, but not paying us, you know, appropriately. We’ve been talking about “quiet quitting”, quote– 


Anne Helen Peterson: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –Unquote. On the pod. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh My God. Endlessly. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. It’s–


Anne Helen Peterson: Quiet quitting is a myth. 


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a mess.


Anne Helen Peterson: It’s a myth. Um. I think if I, like, duplicated myself, then I’d [?] have like a chorus of–


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: –people being like, quit that job. Because [laughter] sometimes that’s my impulse. It’s like, that shit is toxic. Get out of there. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Leave. 


Anne Helen Peterson: And my producer, Melody and I have been really mindful about trying to find people who have slightly different perspectives. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Anne Helen Peterson: Or just, like, come to different issues from um a different mindset. So, like, we have people who aren’t white ladies like me. When the question comes from someone who is a person of color. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: And they’re like, here, this is where your options are in this situation. And that’s why I love having a co-host who can really come at a question from a different identity perspective than what I would come from. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. I want to follow up really quickly on one of the scenarios that you were describing, and it’s the scenario that so many people I know are in. It’s the one where it’s like you have the degrees. You spent a long time getting really good at whatever your subject area expertise is, you work for some place that pays you way less than you should be making, like way less than you need to survive and live comfortably. Like, how do you even have advice for these people? Like how do you come up with what to tell them? 


Anne Helen Peterson: Yeah. And I think that sometimes you need a good mix of people like me who’ve left situations like that, you know, whether it was academia or media or whatever, and um people who have tried to stay in them and reform. One problem I think, especially with stuff like nonprofits and with media, right, is that the more that people stay in those positions at levels of pay that are below like survival, it makes those positions sustainable only for people who are partnered– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Anne Helen Peterson: –Only for people who have family money. And I think a lot of nonprofit employers would say, like, well, this is just our budget and wonder when they look around and they’re like, oh, why is everyone that works at this organization, a white woman– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: –Who has a husband who makes the most income? Right. And– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Anne Helen Peterson: –Why do we have these DEI diversity, equity and inclusion problems. If you can look at your organization and say, maybe we need to think about how we reorganize the way that we think about pay within this organization, maybe we need to do less so that the people who we have here can get paid a sustainable wage. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: And those are bigger picture, harder conversations. But also when you stay there and suffer, you’re sustaining– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. It–


Anne Helen Peterson: –the way things are. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You’re suffering and like so is everybody– 


Anne Helen Peterson: Yes. [?]


Priyanka Aribindi: –Who is in your industry and following you. Everybody. 


Anne Helen Peterson: Right. Right. Well, and that’s also why I think you see a lot of energy towards unionizing and not only in places like Amazon and Starbucks, but also like museum workers are unionizing en masse right now. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I just feel like we’re in a moment right. Where people are reassessing their relationships to their jobs. Regular listeners of our show will also know that, like the economic outlook is, you know, not looking that great. And so that might make you think differently about your relationship with your job. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m wondering, though, if you feel like this new moment in conversation we’re having about our relationship to work is going to stick? 


Anne Helen Peterson: [sigh] Well, this is the problem, right, is that I think we reached this moment of like slight employee power with a strong job market. And then [laugh] then there’s this incredible pushback that’s like, oh, any sort of power that you had that is undercut by the fact that, like, we’re in an unstable economy. And this is, I think, especially true for people who are Gen Z, who are millennials, who are younger Gen X’s. It just feels like this has been our lives over and over again. Get like some sort of stability and then have it undercut. It really is difficult. I think that smart employers are thinking about sustainability. Losing people costs a lot of money. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Anne Helen Peterson: People working so hard that they have to take unexpected mental health leave or unexpected physical health leave. And so either you figure out how to make work more sustainable on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly level, or you set yourself up for that sort of disruption. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was our conversation with Anne Helen Petersen. She hosts Crooked’s Work Appropriate Podcast, which drops new episodes every Wednesday. If you have a burning question about work that you’d like to hear her tackle, we will have a link to get you in touch in our shownotes. [music break] 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Survivors of the Uvalde school shooting sued law enforcement agencies in Texas yesterday over their response to the massacre, which left 19 children and two teachers dead. The class action lawsuit seeks $27 billion dollars, with victims saying they suffered psychological trauma because officers took too long to confront the gunman. This is just one of many lawsuits in connection with the shooting. Earlier this week, families of the victims who were killed filed a federal suit against the maker of the firearm that was used by the shooter, as well as the gun store that sold it to him. They accused the gun maker of intentionally marketing its products to, quote, “violent young men” and say the gun shop ignored red flags about the shooter. That lawsuit seeks $6 billion dollars in damages. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, $6 billion dollars is a lot of money. But like, there is no limit in my mind to the damages– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –That these companies– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –And these people have inflicted like that number. It would never be high enough, in my opinion. Remember the so-called special master who was appointed to independently review the classified documents seized from Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago? Well, he’s about to get a lot more free time because a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that the judge handling the case was wrong to grant Trump’s request for a special review of those documents. The three judge panel wrote that allowing the target of a search warrant to request such a review sets a bad precedent and that courts shouldn’t make exceptions for Trump just because he is a former president. It’s a big win for the Justice Department because it clears the way for investigators to actually use the seized documents in its criminal probe. The ruling will take effect next Thursday, though Trump’s legal team could appeal. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Of course they could. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, who even knows who’s on that legal team anymore? [laughter] So I, go right ahead. Do whatever you want. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Senate passed legislation yesterday that would block the looming nationwide rail strike. It comes just one day after the House approved the measure, which effectively forces rail workers, unions and freight companies to accept a new labor deal. Progressives tried to pass a separate bill that would have given workers one week of paid sick leave, but they didn’t have enough votes in the Senate to keep it alive. The measure without sick leave now heads to Biden’s desk. He’s expected to sign it as early as today. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, every single one of these senators knows how critical our railways are to our country’s infrastructure. But like, they don’t care enough about the people running these railways and making it happen day after day to–


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –Give them sick leave and like the protections they deserve at work. So that speaks volumes. A man who previously sentenced himself to being Matt Gaetz’s friend, has now been sentenced to prison. The uh Matt Gaetz to prison pipeline. We [laugh] love to see it. One time Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg got 11 years yesterday after pleading guilty to crimes that included sex trafficking of a 17 year old girl. According to the federal judge overseeing the case. Greenberg has cooperated extensively with the government as part of his plea deal, which could be bad news for Representative Matt Gaetz, who was the subject of an investigation by the Department of Justice himself. Greenberg has told federal authorities that he witnessed Gates have sex with the 17 year old girl in question here. Gates has yet to be charged with anything, and he was reelected by members of the party of Family Values just last month. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Just last month. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And they’d do it again, like spoiler alert, they don’t care. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Ironic, right? If your reaction to Elon Musk’s management of Twitter is I wish he had access to my skull. You’re in luck. The world’s richest and loudest man gave a presentation on Wednesday promoting his brain implant company Neuralink and he said he expects to start testing on humans in six months. Neuralink implants allow the brain to control certain actions on computers, but so far, the only subjects who have been implanted are animals. Furthermore, Neuralink isn’t really that far ahead in its field, which is full of other research groups aiming to restore function to individuals with paralysis or other disabilities. What Neuralink does have that its competitors don’t is insane claims from Elon Musk like his suggestion in 2020 that Neuralink devices could give people, quote, “superhuman vision” if I guess they’d rather put wires into their brains than buy binoculars. Musk’s six month timeline is probably overly optimistic. Human trials would require FDA approval after a full evaluation of the risks involved in getting Neuralink. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, that like thing that I feel like parents say where it’s like if they jumped in to the lake, like, would you do that? [laughter] Like it’s like if Elon Musk does this shit. If you would do that to. Go, line up, go do it. I would love the Elon fanboys to all just get in line, do their little brain implant and then I don’t even know. I can’t imagine. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Whatever happens, happens. May the odds ever be in your favor. 


Priyanka Aribindi: There we go. That’s a great way to say that politely. Yes. RT what Tre’vell said. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines, we will be back after some ads to discuss the latest updates in the world of celebrity soda endorsements. 




Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday WAD squad. And today we’re doing a segment called Bad Sound. Take a listen to today’s clip: 


[clip of Lindsay Lohan] [woman starts speaking over Christmas sounding piano music] Nice. Ooh. Naughty. Pepsi and milk. Pilk. Mmm. That is one dirty soda. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm mm. Mmm mmm.


Priyanka Aribindi: We’re like a full cringe right now. Oh, my God. Yeah. Lita, our producer just put in the chat uh that the clip is so much worse without the video. Yeah, it really is. [laughter] 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so what everyone is missing from this is that visual. It’s of Lindsay Lohan, in a Santa themed outfit, pouring milk into a glass of Pepsi. Then she drinks it and there’s onscreen text that reads Pilk and cookies. The new ad campaign borrows from what else but a trend on TikTok. The trend centers around so-called dirty sodas, which are soft drinks plus creams and flavored syrups and were first popularized by young Mormons. Lohan is just ramping up her Hollywood comeback after over ten years away from movies. So her choice to pause and promote dairy and Pepsi mixtures is a choice. But Priyanka, what are your thoughts here? I’m so intrigued. What do you got? 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, I’m still reeling from that clip. To be honest with you. Um. First thing, dirty soda. Not what I thought a a dirty Soda was. I have a very different definition. You might, too. I don’t know. That that was just not what my understanding was. Second of all, who could drink this, like I’m sorry. I don’t think I’ve had dairy milk in, I don’t even want to count how many years. [laughter] Who among us can even digest that? This is all disgusting and sick and wrong to me. [laughing] Tre’vell, what are your thoughts? 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I will confirm that I too had a different understanding of what a dirty soda or a dirty sprite, if you will– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –Is, was– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –um and it does not involve creams and flavored syrups. Well, a flavored syrup, but like Robitussin, you know like– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah it feels like they didn’t run this ad by people who knew. 


Tre’vell Anderson: They didn’t. They didn’t have any folks of color behind the scenes, I’m sure. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Nope. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But what I do want to note is it kind of sounds root beer float-ish, but like this isn’t ice cream–  


Priyanka Aribindi: But disgusting. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But disgusting. Also, it’s Pepsi. No shade. I’m a Coca-Cola girl. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Ah [laughing] um. So if I’m going to choose any soda, it won’t be Pepsi. And this ad definitely doesn’t convince me to go pick up that blue can. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Listen, all love to Lindsay Lohan’s career resurgence. Great for her. Get that money. That’s great. Uh but what the fuck did we just listen to? [laughing] I’m so confused.


Tre’vell Anderson: And that was bad sound. Make sure you drink pilk and cookies at your own risk. [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing before we go. We are excited to announce that we are dropping a special bonus episode of WAD tomorrow. It is an extended version of our episode this week commemorating the late Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and the first woman to seek a major party nomination for president. Our co-host Juanita Tolliver, sat down with representatives Ayanna Pressley, and Barbara Lee, and Chisholm biographer Dr. Anastasia Curwood about her trailblazing life and legacy. You don’t want to miss this and you can check out some video highlights on our Instagram at What A Day. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, keep your skull away from Elon Musk and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just dirty soda recipes like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And pass the pilk and cookies. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh my God. Please do not. Keep that all to yourselves. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I would say pass it in the direction away from me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, please. [laughing]


Tre’vell Anderson: Please and thank you. [laughing] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Lita Martinez, Michael Martinez, and Sandy Girard. Production support comes from Leo Duran, Ari Schwartz, and Matt DeGroot with additional promotional and social support from Ewa Okulate, Julia Beach, and Jordan Silver. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.