McFeely: Farmers, PPP recipients have no right to complain about student loans

The beauty of the predictable Republican outcry over the "handouts" of Biden's student loan program is that there are receipts for PPP loans forgiven and farm money handed out.

mcfeely flipped.jpg
Forum New Service columnist Mike McFeely
We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO — It was the lowest hanging of all fruit. A Bismarck-based businessman was whining on social media about President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness program. His argument was based on whether the president was going to forgive his business loans.

"Let's go Brandon," was, of course, included in the social media posts.

It took just a few moments for someone to send me a screenshot of the businessman's Paycheck Protection Program loan information, available online to the public. The businessman received more than $10,000 for his one-employee (him) business. It was all forgiven by the taxpayers of America.

With extreme snark, I posted the screenshot online and asked the businessman if it was his loan that was, indeed, forgiven.

He deleted his social media posts quicker than you can say "hypocrite."


And that's the beauty of the predictable Republican outcry over the "handouts" of Biden's student loan program: There are receipts.

Particularly in North Dakota, where there are not only hundreds of businesses that dipped into the PPP program during the pandemic but hundreds of farmers who've taken billions in taxpayer money over the years.

Yes, billions. According to the Environmental Working Group, a farm subsidy watchdog, North Dakota farmers received nearly $9.5 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2020.

The entire list is online at at the EWG website. Kohler Farms of Valley City has received $6.6 million in government money. KTM Farm of Wahpeton, $6 million. Dalrymple Farms of Casselton, $5.8 million. It's all there to see.

A nice chunk of ag payments came during the Trump administration, when the Republican president started handing out cash to farmers to make up for his failed trade policies — and to buy votes, the very thing the GOP is accusing Biden of today.

I wrote about the "Donnie Dollars" in 2021, accurately calling it welfare and socialism for farmers. About 44% of net farm income in 2020 was attributable to government payments.

Trump's last handout was $13 billion in free government money, following handouts of $16 billion and $14 billion in the first two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

It was a politically motivated buyoff, spurred by bad Trump policy.


Was there Republican outrage over the farm money or PPP loans, most of which were forgiven? Did Gov. Doug Burgum ever call Trump's government handouts "horribly misguided and incredibly unfair" as he did Biden's student loan forgiveness program?

Of course not, because ginned up indignation from Republicans is a partisan play.

"A Republican president is handing out money to my supporters, even if they don't need it? Awesome!"

"A Democratic president is forgiving a small percentage of loans to specifically qualified people? I AM DISGUSTED!"

It's what we've come to expect from the whiners on the right. There is no policy, no platform. Only anger and calls of unfairness. That's how grievance politics work.

The problem for them is, now there are receipts showing which ones took their free money and ran. Those people have no right to complain.

Opinion by Mike McFeely
Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
What To Read Next
"I think this juxtaposition illustrates something important — namely, the utter futility of legislative attempts to force the LGBTQ community back into the closet."
House appropriators are advancing an amendment that would set aside $3 million to litigate a newly passed Minnesota law prohibiting the import of power from carbon-emitting sources.
"Arguing against a tax reduction because rich people and out-of-staters and rich out-of-staters would enjoy some relief, too, is an invitation for us to cut off our noses to spite our faces."
Columnist Roxane Salonen shares memories of a "beautiful fellow mother, mentor, and comrade in Christ" who recently passed away.