Youth research

Harris County leader shames Senator Bettencourt over $623,000 PPP loan

WASHINGTON — A Harris County commissioner has called a state senator for complaining about student debt forgiveness after his Houston tax firm got a $623,500 paycheck protection loan canceled in 2020.

“Is it you?” Democrat Adrian Garcia tweeted at Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican who criticized President Joe Biden’s plan to offer student debtors up to $20,000 in relief “costing $600+ billion”.

Garcia included a screenshot showing that the Bettencourt Tax Advisors LLC loan was canceled in December 2020. According to ProPublica database of Paycheck Protection Loans, the company received a loan in the first cycle of the program – intended to help businesses weather the COVID pandemic – in April 2020.

It was Texas’ version of a social media trend that has taken off since Biden announced his plan as Democrats — and the official White House Twitter account — seek to shame Republicans who criticized the plan, but whose business loans have been forgiven.

A spokesperson for Garcia said the commissioner took inspiration from the White House “noting similar hypocrisy among some Republican members of Congress.”

“Given Senator Bettencourt’s strong opposition to President Biden’s program, does that mean he intends to repay to the United States the more than $600,000 he took in loan forgiveness? ” Garcia spokesman Scott Spiegel said.

Republicans, however, argue that the two types of loan forgiveness are not comparable because Paycheck Protection Loans were given to business owners who, in many cases, had no other choice. than closing their doors due to government shutdown orders.

“This PPP comparison is 100% bullcrap,” tweeted U.S. Representative Chip Roy, a Republican from Austin who spearheaded legislation that built flexibility into the program. Roy said the loans were “The goddamn government or governments shut them down and took their livelihood because they are run by a bunch of idiots. Good grief.

Bettencourt called it a “complete hijack” and said in an interview that the difference between the two was “Civics 101”.

“You have a federal soup-to-nuts bill that was passed bipartisanly by a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, and forgiveness is in that bill,” he said of the paycheck protection program. “It’s completely different from an executive order with no credits that will be challenged in the Supreme Court.”

Biden said last week that his administration would forgive $10,000 in student loans to those earning $125,000 or less. Those who attended college on Pell grants for low-income students will be eligible for a $20,000 rebate.

Republican critics pointed to estimates suggesting it could cost the government more than $300 billion. They also argued that it was unfair to those who have already paid off their debt, as well as the vast majority of American adults who do not have student loans.

Biden joined other Democrats in comparing student loan forgiveness to paycheck protection loans intended to help small businesses pay employees during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government agreed to forgive loans of up to $10 million if 75% of the proceeds were used to keep workers on the payroll and pay eight weeks’ wages.

“No one complained that these loans caused inflation,” Biden said. “They needed help, it was the right thing to do…Now is the time to tackle the student debt burden in the same way.”

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