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Killexams : Symantec Administration test - BingNews Search results Killexams : Symantec Administration test - BingNews Killexams : Billbug Targets Government Agencies in Multiple Asian Countries

State-sponsored actors in the Billbug group (aka Lotus Blossom and Thrip) have tried to compromise a digital certificate authority in an Asian country during a campaign targeting multiple government agencies.

Security researchers from Symantec have made the discovery and shared the findings in an advisory published earlier today.

“In activity documented by Symantec in 2019, we detailed how the group was using a backdoor known as Hannotog and another backdoor known as Sagerunex. Both these tools were also seen in this more latest activity,” reads the technical write-up.

The company added that all the victims in this latest Billbug campaign were based in various countries in Asia.

“Billbug is known to focus on targets in Asian countries. In at least one of the government victims, a large number of machines on the network were compromised by the attackers,” Symantec explained.

According to the security firm, the targeting of a certificate authority is notable. If the attackers could compromise it and access certificates, they could use them to sign malware with a valid certificate and help it avoid detection on victim machines. It could also use compromised certificates to intercept HTTPS traffic.

“However, although this is a possible motivation for targeting a certificate authority, Symantec has seen no evidence to suggest they were successful in compromising digital certificates,” wrote the company.

In terms of how the attacks were executed, Billbug was observed exploiting public-facing applications to gain initial access to victim networks and, in particular, dual-use tools. These included AdFind, WinRAR and Port Scanner, among others.

“Multiple files that are believed to be loaders for the Hannotog backdoor were spotted on victim machines,” Symantec wrote. “A backdoor was then deployed on the compromised system. This backdoor has multiple functionalities.”

Among its various capabilities, the backdoor could create a service for persistence, stop other services and upload encrypted data.

Symantec confirmed it had notified the certificate authority to inform them of this activity. The advisory comes two months after Interpol claimed to have dismantled an international cybercrime ring that made an estimated $47,000 from extorting dozens of victims in Asia.

Tue, 15 Nov 2022 04:00:00 -0600 Alessandro Mascellino text/html
Killexams : Sophos CEO: Broadcom Is Repeating Same Mistakes With VMware That It Made With Symantec

Security News

Jay Fitzgerald

Kris Hagerman says his security firm is picking up some business due to customers’ concerns over the proposed Broadcom-VMware merger.


Sophos chief executive Kris Hagerman says his British security company is picking up new business from VMware customers nervous about Broadcom’s proposed $61 billion takeover of VMware.

In a latest interview with CRN, Hagerman said Broadcom, the semiconductor heavyweight now branching out into other tech fields, appears to be following the same customer and channel strategies with VMware that it used after its often-criticized takeover of Symantec’s enterprise business for more $10.7 billion in 2019.

Asked by CRN during a latest interview whether he saw an opportunity for Sophos to nab some VMware customers and partners due to the proposed merger, which includes the VMware Carbon Black security solutions, Hagerman replied, “Well, of course.”

He added: “The reality is we saw the same thing with Broadcom’s acquisition of Symantec. And I think this is a stated strategy of a Broadcom. That they really only focus on their top 500 to 1,000 customers. And as a result, they essentially step back almost entirely from the channel — and you’ve seen that in spades with Symantec and the acquisition of Symantec.”

He said smaller customers will be impacted along with partners as a result of any merger.

“They (at Broadcom) also essentially step back from almost all of their customers if they’re not in the top 500 or 1.000. And, as a result, it ends up opening up opportunities for all sorts of other vendors, including Sophos.”

Asked what VMware customers and partners were telling Sophos, Hagerman said: “They’re saying exactly the same thing that all those Symantec customers and partners said. There’s just exactly the same movie playing over. It’s literally the same game plan being applied to a new acquisition.”

He added: “So all those partners and customers, they just say, ‘OK, yeah, it‘s very obvious what’s going to happen. The same thing that happened with the Symantec products and partners and customers. The same thing is going to happen with VMware and the same thing is going to happen with the Carbon Black component underneath VMware.’”

Hagerman is not the only tech CEO to say that VMware customers and partners are reaching out to other vendors following Broadcom’s announcement last spring that it planned to buy VMWare.

At The Channel Company’s Best of Breed conference in Atlanta earlier this year, CrowdStrike chief executive George Kurtz said his cybersecurity company is fielding inquiries from a number of VMware customers concerned about the proposed Broadcom-VMware merger.

Since last spring’s merger announcement, Broadcom and VMware officials have aggressively pushed back at the notion that a VMware takeover will merely be a repeat of the budget cuts and price increases that happened after past Broadcom acquisitions.

Asked by CRN for a response to Hagerman’s comments, a Broadcom spokesman pointed to two latest posts, one on Wednesday and the other last month, by Broadcom president and CEO Hock Tan.

In his post earlier this week, Tan addressed frequently expressed fears that Broadcom plans to raise prices for VMware products after the proposed merger goes through, assuming it gets final regulatory approvals.

“I’ve continued to see questions in press reports about whether we intend to raise prices on VMware products. The answer is simple: No,” Tan said in his post.

He also asserted that all customers will be treated fairly.

“Following the transaction’s close, we’re going to focus on making VMware’s products better for all of our customers, including enterprise customers who want products that are even easier to use. And, to be clear, we intend to continue serving customers of all sizes,” he said in the Nov. 30 post.

Tan added: “VMware has a robust partner ecosystem that we will build upon to help us serve even the smallest companies. In short, we plan to take a ‘no customer left behind’ approach.”

Worth Davis, senior vice president at Calian IT & Cyber Solutions, an Ottawa, Ontario-based solutions provider, said most partners assume VMware products will cost more after a merger with Broadcom.

“They know what’s coming. They know prices will increase,” he said.

Davis, whose firm is a VMware partner, said many customers and partners may talk about switching to new vendors, but he said it’s easier said than done. “It’s difficult to get out of a technical architecture decision.”

He said he’s not abandoning VMware products because they offer “critical technology.”

He added he wouldn’t be surprised if Broadcom ended up focusing on VMware’s top 500 to 1,000 customers. “It’s something everyone does,” he said.

Jay Fitzgerald

Jay Fitzgerald is a senior editor covering cybersecurity for CRN. Jay previously freelanced for the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, Boston magazine, Banker & Tradesman,, Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, the National Bureau of Economic Research and other entities. He can be reached at

Thu, 01 Dec 2022 02:49:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Biden Administration's Proposed New Independent-Contractor Test Can Impact Your Company's Bottom Line

Companies routinely use independent contractors for special projects and isolated assignments as a way to cut down on the normal costs connected to hiring full time W-2 employees.  However, companies often misunderstand what a true independent contractor is versus a W-2 employee.

This can place a bullseye squarely on a company’s back either through a Department of Labor (“DOL”) audit of its classification of laborers or through federal lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for alleged unpaid wages and overtime owed to misclassified independent contractors who are alleged to be employees.

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Tue, 15 Nov 2022 17:00:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : A Rising Star in the Biden Administration Faces a $100 Billion Test

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, was meeting with students at Purdue University in September when she spotted a familiar face. Ms. Raimondo beamed as she greeted the chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a chip company that had announced plans to build a $1.8 billion manufacturing facility next to the Purdue campus.

“We’re super excited about the Indiana announcement,” she said. “Call me if you need anything.”

These days, Ms. Raimondo, a former Rhode Island governor, is the most important phone call in Washington that many chief executives can make. As the United States embarks on its biggest foray into industrial policy since World War II, Ms. Raimondo has the responsibility of doling out a stunning amount of money to states, research institutions and companies like SkyWater.

She is also at the epicenter of a growing Cold War with China as the Biden administration uses her agency’s expansive powers to try to make America’s semiconductor industry more competitive. At the same time, the administration is choking off Beijing’s access to advanced chips and other technology critical to China’s military and economic ambitions.

China has responded angrily, with its leader, Xi Jinping, criticizing what he called “politicizing and weaponizing economic and trade ties” during a meeting with President Biden this month, according to the official Chinese summary of his comments.

The Commerce Department, under Ms. Raimondo’s leadership, is now poised to begin distributing nearly $100 billion — roughly 10 times the department’s annual budget — to build up the U.S. chip industry and expand broadband access throughout the country.

How Ms. Raimondo handles that task will have big implications for the United States economy going forward. Many view the effort as the best — and only — bet for the United States to position itself in industries of the future, like artificial intelligence and supercomputing, and ensure that the country has a secure supply of the chips necessary for national security.

But the risks are similarly huge. Critics of the Biden administration’s plans have noted that the federal government may not be the best judge of which technologies to back. They have warned that if the administration gets it wrong, the United States may surrender its leadership in key technologies for good.

“The essence of industrial policy is you’re gambling,” said William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. “She’s going to be in a tough spot because there probably will be failures or disappointments along the way,” he said.

The outcome could also have ramifications for Ms. Raimondo’s political ambitions. In less than two years in Washington, Ms. Raimondo, 51, has emerged as one of President Biden’s most trusted cabinet officials. Company executives describe her as a skillful and charismatic politician who is both engaged and accessible in an administration often known for its skepticism of big business.

Ms. Raimondo’s work has earned her praise from Republicans and Democrats, along with labor unions and corporations. Her supporters say she could ascend to another cabinet position, run for the Senate or perhaps mount a presidential bid.

But she is under close watch by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and some other left-wing Democrats, who have criticized her as being too solicitous of corporate interests. Some progressive groups have accused Ms. Raimondo of being under the influence of big tech firms and not thoroughly disclosing those ties.

“Secretary Raimondo’s job is to help grow an economy that works for everyone, not to be the chief lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce,” Ms. Warren said in a statement to The New York Times. “I have real concerns about the department’s approach, whether it’s approving assault weapon sales, negotiating trade deals or supporting big tech companies.”

Those criticisms have been fanned by rumors in latest months that the White House is considering Ms. Raimondo to serve as the next Treasury secretary if Janet L. Yellen, the current occupant of that post, eventually steps down.

Caitlin Legacki, a spokeswoman for the Commerce Department, dismissed speculation about Ms. Raimondo’s next moves as “wheel spinning.”

“As has been previously reported, Janet Yellen is staying at Treasury and Gina Raimondo is staying at Commerce,” Ms. Legacki wrote in an email.

Ms. Raimondo says she is eager to lead the Commerce Department through its next chapter as it tries to build up America’s manufacturing sector. While the scale of the task is daunting, it so far has not fazed Ms. Raimondo. Colleagues and a family member describe her as having little aversion to conflict and say she is drawn to messy policy problems by an impulse to fix them.

Ms. Raimondo grew up in Rhode Island in a close-knit Roman Catholic family, raised partly by a brother 13 years her senior who recalled wrestling with her and throwing her in the water at the beach.

She was “afraid of pretty much nothing,” said her brother, Dr. Thomas J. Raimondo, a pulmonologist in Warwick, R.I. “I think because we brought her up tough, but No. 2, she’ll enter a conflict figuring out, ‘How am I going to fix this?’”

In the sixth grade, she was also deeply influenced by watching her father lose his job at the Bulova watch factory as American manufacturers began sending jobs overseas. The job was a source of pride for her father and allowed him to provide for his family, and the loss sent him into a funk for years, Ms. Raimondo said in an interview. Her mother had shone in a job in human relations at U.S. Rubber, Ms. Raimondo said, but she was dismissed when she became pregnant, a common policy at the time.

As Ms. Raimondo grew up, other manufacturers like Timex and U.S. Rubber shut their doors, and she saw Rhode Island’s schools and infrastructure begin to fray. The significance of these closures would resonate when Ms. Raimondo studied economics as an undergraduate at Harvard, where her professors fed her a “steady diet” of how trickle-down Reaganomics had hollowed out the U.S. economy, she said.

It was also this decaying system — specifically, Rhode Island’s decision to slash public bus routes and library hours when budgets fell short — that ultimately drove Ms. Raimondo to leave a lucrative job in venture capital and run for state treasurer in 2010. There, she made changes to shore up the state’s pension system, clashing with unions and progressive Democrats in the process.

She was elected as the state’s first female governor in 2014. In that job, she introduced free community college and all-day kindergarten, repeatedly raised the minimum wage and cut business taxes. She also courted controversy by proposing a toll on commercial trucks to rebuild the state’s roads and bridges. In 2016, 18-wheel trucks circled Rhode Island’s State House for months, blasting their horns in protest and rattling the nerves of Ms. Raimondo’s staff.

Mr. Biden, then vice president, came to her defense. He traveled to Providence to applaud her efforts and inspect a local bridge that he said was being held up by “Lincoln Logs.”

“Let the horns blow,” Mr. Biden said. “Fix the bridges and the roads.”

Ms. Raimondo was also gaining political support elsewhere in the Democratic Party. She grew close with Mike Donilon, a top adviser to Mr. Biden, and his brother Thomas E. Donilon, who served as national security adviser to President Barack Obama. In 2020, she was a national co-chair of Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign and was floated as a potential running mate.

Mr. Biden and his team vetted Ms. Raimondo as a potential vice president. After Mr. Biden won, they considered her to lead the Department of Health and Human Services before settling on the Commerce Department, a sprawling agency that oversees trade, weather monitoring, the Census and technology regulation.

At Commerce, Ms. Raimondo has taken an active role in trade negotiations, at times overshadowing the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which traditionally crafts the country’s trade deals. She played an outsized role in some of the administration’s major legislative victories, including reaching out to executives to win their support for the infrastructure bill and leaning on her relationships with lawmakers and executives to get funding for the semiconductor industry put into law.

Ms. Raimondo has also presided over the most aggressive use of the Commerce Department’s regulatory powers in a generation. While the department is well known for its role in promoting business, it has an increasingly important role in regulating it by policing the kind of advanced technology that U.S. firms can share with China, Russia and other geopolitical rivals.

In February, her department moved swiftly with allies to clamp down on technology shipments to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. And in October, the department issued sweeping restrictions on advanced semiconductor exports to China in an attempt to curtail the country’s access to critical technology that can be used in war.

But Ms. Raimondo has also received some criticism on that front. Republican lawmakers and others say she has not moved forcefully enough to stop U.S. companies from enriching themselves by selling sensitive technology to China. In particular, critics say that the Commerce Department has issued too many special licenses that offer companies exemptions to the restrictions on selling to China.

In an interview, Ms. Raimondo said that the claim was “just not true” and that exemptions were based on technical specifications, not political considerations.

The restrictions that the Biden administration issued on China’s semiconductor industry last month are “the boldest, most coherent strategic set of policies that the Commerce Department has ever rolled out with respect to export controls,” Ms. Raimondo said.

When it comes to overseeing industry, Ms. Raimondo has said she sees reasonable regulation of business as a necessity, saying corporations left to their own devices will “get greedy.” And she has been outspoken about improving living conditions for America’s poor, often decrying an economic system where many women and people of color can work 60-hour weeks but still live in poverty.

But unlike some progressive Democrats, Ms. Raimondo clearly does not see an issue with being labeled “pro-business.”

“I come from a place in my politics that, fundamentally, Americans are pro-job, pro-business, pro-wealth,” she said. “Americans want to make money and feel like they can make money.”

She added: “American entrepreneurship is the envy of the world. We cannot snuff that out.”

While she came from humble beginnings, Ms. Raimondo and her husband, Andy Moffit, a former executive at McKinsey & Company who is now chief people officer at a health care technology platform, have amassed a net worth of between $4 million and $12.5 million, according to government disclosure forms.

As her department turns to funding semiconductor projects, Ms. Raimondo has promised to use tough standards to evaluate company applications, including prohibiting money from being used for stock buybacks or to make investments in advanced technology in China. The Commerce Department is expected to lead the work of reviewing and approving grants, but any awards to companies of more than $3 billion will be approved by Mr. Biden himself.

At an event held by the Atlantic Council in September, Ms. Raimondo acknowledged that people were watching closely and that the administration’s credibility was on the line.

“Did you get it right? Did you meet the mission? Was it impactful?” she asked. “And if the answer is yes, I think we will be able to convince Congress and others to do more.”

Alan Rappeport contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Sat, 26 Nov 2022 00:56:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Biden administration to extend pause on student loan repayments

Student loan payment pause extended into 2023

Biden extends student loan payment pause amid legal challenges 01:37

The Biden administration is extending the pause on student loan payments until no later than June 30, 2023, as the administration's plan to forgive up to to $20,000 in loans is held up in court. President Biden announced the extension Tuesday in a video posted to the White House Twitter account. 

Student loan repayments were supposed to resume Jan. 1, 2023, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But a federal appeals court has blocked the president's student loan forgiveness program, and the administration has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate their stalled plans. For now, the fate of the program remains unclear, with millions of borrowers in limbo.

The White House announced in August that Mr. Biden would be taking executive action to forgive $10,000 in loans for Americans making under $125,000 a year or $250,000 for married couples. Pell grant receipents are eligible for additional $10,000 to be forgiven. 

"I'm confident that our student debt relief plan is legal," Mr. Biden tweeted. "But it's on hold because Republican officials want to block it. That's why @SecCardona is extending the payment pause to no later than June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term."

Payments would restart 60 days after the Supreme Court decision or on June 30, whichever comes first. The Supreme Court has not yet said whether they will take the case. 

Since the Biden administration announced the plan, it has faced a number of legal challenges, and has been blocked by two federal courts. The White House has said that nearly 26 million Americans have applied for the program, and 16 million applications have already been approved. 

— Kristin Brown contributed to this report 

Tue, 22 Nov 2022 06:56:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Killexams : TSA administrator says new cyber requirements in the works for aviation industry

The administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, said Wednesday that the agency would deliver new cybersecurity requirements for the aviation industry "in the not-too-distant future." 

Speaking at the Aspen Cyber Summit, TSA chief David Pekoske said that the administration is following a similar method of developing the forthcoming cybersecurity rules as it did for the oil and gas pipeline sector, when it released a series of security guidelines in 2021 following the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. 

Pekoske declined to provide more details on a timeline or what those directives may include, but according to a Reuters report, several U.S. airport websites were hit this week with what seemed to be coordinated denial-of-service attacks that the TSA attributed to pro-Russian hackers.

While those attacks did not appear to affect airport operations, they echo the urgency of the White House following Colonial Pipeline attack, where Pekoske said officials held top secret-level briefings with the nation's most critical pipeline owners to help develop a baseline set of cybersecurity requirements for the oil and natural gas pipeline industry.

Before the TSA released those individual directives for the pipeline industry in July 2021, the White House held briefings for the chief executive officers of the most critical pipeline companies in the U.S. in sensitive compartmented information facilities, or SCIFs, to "frankly exchange perspectives and then figure out the way forward," Pekoske said.

The TSA administrator said he attended several of the White House briefings with critical pipeline owners, which were enabled by the National Security Council.  

"We felt it was very important … for the CEOs to see the 'why' – why we were reacting the way we were, and why we needed their support in reallocating resources and priorities within their companies to build cybersecurity resilience within that sector," he said. "My reaction to it was, 'Wow, we should be doing this all the time.'"

TSA eventually released multiple cybersecurity directives for critical pipelines owners and operators in response to the Colonial Pipeline attack, requiring operators to report confirmed and potential cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and to address cybersecurity risks and remediation measures to the TSA and CISA within 30 days, among other directives. 

It's unclear whether aviation industry leaders will also take part in similar top secret-level briefings, but the Reuters story also noted that as a condition of its airport terminal grants, the Federal Aviation Administration recently issued a notice to airports "to consider and address physical and cyber security risks relevant to the transportation mode and type and scale of the project." 

Pekoske said that it's vital for the administration to engage and collaborate with industry leaders on the cybersecurity challenges facing them. 

"Most of the critical infrastructure in the country is owned by the private sector," he added. "The private sector should be aware of the extent of the threat that they're facing so they can look at the vulnerability [and] consequences and determine the risk that they're undertaking." 

Thu, 17 Nov 2022 16:00:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Biden administration extends student loan payment pause to no later than June 2023

The Biden administration on Tuesday extended the pandemic-era federal student loan payment pause and interest accrual until no later than June 2023 while the administration faces legal challenges to its debt forgiveness plan.

“I’m confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it,” President Biden said in a statement. “That’s why @SecCardona is extending the payment pause to no later than June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term.”

The pause was set to expire on Dec. 31 after Biden extended it in August around the same time he announced the student loan forgiveness program. At the time, the White House called that extension “one final time.”

The latest extension into next year will deliver the Supreme Court time to decide whether it will rule on whether the program can continue.

The payment pause will end “no later than June 30, 2023,” Biden said, because payments will resume 60 days after the Education Department is permitted to implement the program or the litigation is resolved, which should come before the end of June, when the Supreme Court term typically concludes. 

Loan payments were first put on hold in March 2020 under former President Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver individuals relief from paying their student loan bills. The freeze has since been extended six times.

Biden’s long-awaited forgiveness program has stopped accepting applications after it was blocked by several court challenges.

The Biden administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to clear one of the legal obstacles blocking its student debt relief program, as part of the administration’s broader legal effort to have the policy reinstated.

The administration is currently fending off two separate rulings issued over the past two weeks that have effectively halted Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which would deliver federal borrowers making less than $125,000 a year up to $10,000 in debt relief.  

That move came after a unanimous three-judge panel on the 8th Circuit halted Biden’s massive debt relief plan, which had already been blocked nationwide by a separate court ruling.

In an earlier legal development, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas invalidated the program, saying the presidential action unlawfully encroached on Congress’s power. 

The administration has vowed to fight the challenges. 

“We’re not going to back down though on our fight to deliver families breathing room,” Biden said in his announcement. “That’s why the Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to rule on the case. But it isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers who are eligible to relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuits.”

More than 23 million people applied for student loan relief before the applications closed.

Student loan advocates called the extension announced on Tuesday a necessary step, but pushed the administration to fight back against the legal challenges.

“The least the Biden administration could do is not collect on a debt they promised they would cancel,” Braxton Brewington, spokesperson for the Debt Collective, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This pause extension is necessary, but also the bare minimum. What 45 million borrowers truly need is a Biden administration that won’t allow fringe lawsuits and right-wing courts to undermine economic relief that’s already been approved.”

Natalia Abrams, president of the Student Debt Crisis Center, applauded Biden for the move. 

“Too many borrowers, parents, and students have yet to recover from the financial harm caused by the pandemic and the possibility of a winter surge in COVID-19 cases is proof that this crisis is not over. Student debt cancellation is essential to helping borrowers recover from the pandemic, but it remains stuck in the courts,” she said in a statement.

Updated at 4:05 p.m.

Tue, 22 Nov 2022 01:39:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Killexams : Biden administration faces multifront battle on student loans

The Biden administration is pushing forward on multiple fronts in its battle to see through a $500 billion student debt transfer .

Two separate courts have blocked the program, which President Joe Biden attempted to implement without congressional approval on Aug. 24, and the White House is now appealing to the Supreme Court for help while extending the student loans repayment pause for at least another six months.


"As Americans continue to recover from the pandemic, my administration has been working to provide student debt relief to millions of working- and middle-class families across the country," Biden said in a video about the latest pause extension. "But Republican special interests and elected officials sued to deny this relief even from their own constituents. But I'm completely confident my plan is legal."

The federal student loan repayment pause dates to March 2020, when then-President Donald Trump implemented it along with a wave of other COVID-19-related policies. The latest extension is Biden's sixth since taking office and could see the pause last until Aug. 30, three and a half years after its initial implementation.

Biden promised the last pause extension would be the final one. That news came in conjunction with a loan "forgiveness" announcement of up to $20,000 for some borrowers. However, with the forgiveness program looking vulnerable to being struck down in court, the Biden administration is pushing the pause back once again.

On the political side, administration officials have heavily criticized Republicans for the legal setbacks. College-educated voters have emerged as a reliably Democratic bloc in latest elections.

“We’re extending the payment pause because it would be deeply unfair to ask borrowers to pay a debt that they wouldn’t have to pay, were it not for the baseless lawsuits brought by Republican officials and special interests," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said .

However, those lawsuits have been successful in icing the program, and the White House faces long odds in a Supreme Court that has emphasized separation of powers of late.

"Whenever you hear Democrats or even President Biden try to blame conservatives for the failure of their illegal student loan bailout just remember why; they're mad because the Constitution applies to them in the same way it does everyone else," said Elaine Parker, president of the conservative Job Creators Network Foundation. "They're mad because Biden cannot rule the country like a king."

Proponents of student loan forgiveness are still holding out hope that the program will go through as designed.

"The administration has done a good job of laying out its reasoning for using the HEROES Act to implement the president's $10,000/$20,000 debt relief plan and its authority for doing so as well," said Persis Yu, deputy executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center. "The law is on the administration's side."

Criticisms of Biden's forgiveness program tend to focus on its cost, which has been estimated at between $500 billion and $1 trillion by various scorekeepers, and the fact that it only benefits those who attended college at the expense of blue-collar workers. But the pause itself comes with a hefty price tag.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the latest pause extension could cost $40 billion, bringing the grand total for the pause to $195 billion, mostly due to missed payments. The pause costs more than $5 billion per month and also fuels inflation, CRFB argues.

Neal McCluskey, director of Cato's Center for Educational Freedom, said earlier this month that Biden's student debt transfer faced 50-50 odds of being overturned in court. He now says those odds have shifted to perhaps 80-20 in favor of the program being struck down.

“Once the courts determined people had standing to sue, the constitutional and legal case was pretty clear,” he said. “The Biden administration does not have the authority to cancel $400 billion in student debt.”


If courts strike down the student debt transfer, it's possible lawsuits could then emerge attacking the legality of the pause as well. Both rest on the authority the White House says it has under the HEROES Act of 2003, which was designed with military service members in mind.

Biden is also battling with Congress over his continued extension of the national COVID-19 emergency, which grants him expanded powers. So long as the emergency powers remain in effect, the White House may continue working to keep the repayment pause in effect.

"There's been a general belief that the HEROES Act does allow a president to freeze repayment so long as there's still a national emergency," said McCluskey. "As long as the federal government keeps saying we're in a period of national emergency, he'd technically have the ability to continue these waivers."

Mon, 28 Nov 2022 23:40:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Biden administration dealt another setback in court in effort to revive student loan debt relief policy

CNN  — 

A second federal appeals court has rejected a Biden administration bid to put on hold a ruling blocking the President’s student debt relief policy.

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday night that it would not pause a ruling from a Texas judge striking down the policy while an appeal of the ruling played out.

The move sets the stage for the US Justice Department to take the case to the US Supreme Court, which is already considering a separate request from the Biden administration that it reverse an order from the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the loan forgiveness program.

The 5th Circuit denial was handed down by a panel made up of a George W. Bush appointee, a Barack Obama appointee and a Donald Trump appointee.

They did not explain their reasoning for rejecting the administration’s request, but the panel ordered the full appeal to be considered on an expedited basis.

College alum tells CNN: The only way to open the door was to take on student loan debt

Nearly two weeks ago, the Biden administration began notifying people who are approved for federal student loan relief, even as the future of that relief remains in limbo since lower courts blocked the program nationwide. The emails from the US Department of Education to borrowers acknowledged latest legal challenges have kept the administration from discharging the debt.

Biden’s program would offer up to $20,000 of debt relief to millions of qualified borrowers, but it has been met with legal challenges.

The November 10 Texas ruling upheld by the appeals court Wednesday declared Biden’s program illegal. That prompted the Education Department to halt accepting loan relief applications.

About 26 million people had applied for student loan relief prior to the latest court decisions with 16 million of those applications being approved, according to the Biden administration.

Federal student loan payments that had been paused during the Covid-19 pandemic were set to resume in January. But the Biden administration again extended the pause period on November 22 as legal battles continue.

The payment pause will last until 60 days after the litigation is resolved. If the program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, payments will resume 60 days after that, according to the Department of Education.

“I’m completely confident my plan is legal,” said President Joe Biden in a video posted on Twitter last week, referencing his student loan forgiveness program.

“But it isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit,” he added.

Economist offers "counter-intuitive" advice on student loans

The Biden administration has argued that Congress granted the secretary of education the power to broadly discharge student loan debt in a 2003 law known as the HEROES Act, which was passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The government’s lawyers argue that the law allows the secretary to discharge debt in an event of a national emergency, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the Texas federal judge found that the law does not provide the executive branch clear congressional authorization to create the student loan forgiveness program.

“The program is thus an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated,” wrote Judge Mark Pittman, who was nominated by then-President Trump.

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” he continued.

The Texas lawsuit was filed by a conservative group, the Job Creators Network Foundation, in October on behalf of two borrowers who did not qualify for debt relief.

One plaintiff did not qualify for the student loan forgiveness program because her loans are not held by the federal government and the other plaintiff is only eligible for $10,000 in debt relief because he did not receive a Pell grant.

They argued that they could not voice their disagreement with the program’s rules because the administration did not put it through a formal notice-and-comment rule making process under the Administrative Procedure Act.

“This ruling protects the rule of law which requires all Americans to have their voices heard by their federal government,” said Elaine Parker, president of Job Creators Network Foundation, in a statement following the ruling on November 10.

The advocacy group was founded by Bernie Marcus, a major Trump donor and former Home Depot CEO.

If Biden’s program is allowed to move forward, individual borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in either 2020 or 2021 and married couples or heads of households who made less than $250,000 annually in those years could see up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt forgiven.

If a qualifying borrower also received a federal Pell grant while enrolled in college, the individual is eligible for up to $20,000 of debt forgiveness.

There are a variety of federal student loans and not all are eligible for relief. Federal Direct Loans, including subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, parent PLUS loans and graduate PLUS loans, are eligible.

But federal student loans that are guaranteed by the government but held by private lenders are not eligible unless the borrower applied to consolidate those loans into a Direct Loan before September 29.

This story has been updated with additional background information.

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 20:34:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Biden administration faces tough questions as student loan plan held up in court

The Biden administration is facing questions and backlash after its $500 billion student debt transfer was blocked in court two days following the midterm elections.

President Joe Biden announced the program on Aug. 24, and it was always seen as a way to drive turnout among younger, educated voters, but with the program on ice, perhaps permanently, some cynicism has developed among those who stood to benefit.


“They used the promise of student debt cancellation to induce young voter turn out — knowing it wasn’t going anywhere bc they relied on faulty legal authority,” former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman Briahna Joy Gray wrote in a tweet . “Hard to convince me the Biden admin didn’t do this intentionally.”

Biden spoke about student loan "forgiveness" during his 2020 presidential campaign but insisted for his first 18 months in office that Congress needed to act first. That began to change in mid-2022, and by the fall, the White House had announced $10,000 of student debt per borrower would be transferred to taxpayers for anyone earning less than $125,000, and $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants.

The total cost of the program was estimated to run between $400 billion and $1 trillion , depending on a range of variables. Because the Constitution says that only Congress has power of the purse, a flurry of lawsuits soon materialized.

The Education Department made changes to the program on the fly in an attempt to prevent plaintiffs from having standing and continued accepting millions of applications even after the program was paused.

It was finally blocked last Thursday by a Texas judge in response to a lawsuit from the conservative advocacy group Job Creators Network. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also blocked the program on Monday in response to a different lawsuit led by six GOP-led states.

The White House has appealed the Texas ruling and released the following statement in response to the second.

“We are confident in our legal authority for the student debt relief program and believe it is necessary to help borrowers most in need as they recover from the pandemic," read the statement from press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. "The administration will continue to fight these baseless lawsuits by Republican officials and special interests and will never stop fighting to support working and middle class Americans.”

But the move follows a pattern that has become familiar in the Biden White House — implementing progressive policies via executive order only to see them struck down in court.

The first time this occurred was with Biden's extending the eviction moratorium, which the president openly admitted was probably illegal. The same thing happened with the employer vaccine mandate, federal mask mandate, Title 42 southern border expulsion policy, and now Biden's student loan policy.

"At some point, he needs to stay in his lane," said Karen Harned, chief legal officer of the Job Creators Network Foundation Legal Action Fund. "Biden took an oath to uphold the Constitution, so trying to find creative ways to shoehorn his policies by going around Congress is not the answer. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that, and I feel that they'll continue to reject these attempts. I just wish he'd stop trying to do it."

Some legal observers have raised questions about Biden's strategy with student loan forgiveness. Specifically, the president could have used the Higher Education Act of 1965, which empowers the secretary of education to "enforce, pay, compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption."

Instead, the White House used the HEROES Act of 2003, a 9/11-era bill designed to prevent military service members from suffering financial hardship if they went to war.

Fordham University law professor Jed Shugerman made this argument recently, predicting the Biden administration could lose 9-0 if the HEROES Act-based program reaches the Supreme Court.

Biden aggressively promoted student loan forgiveness in the final weeks of the midterm elections, releasing a " by the numbers " sheet lashing out at the GOP and delivering a speech on the Topic in New Mexico.

"It's temporarily on hold — why?" Biden said at the time. "Because Republican members of the Congress and Republican governors are doing everything they can, including taking us to court, to deny relief even to their own constituents."


As some voters worry that they've been betrayed by the White House with faulty promises, Shugerman argues it's not too late to try a different tactic.

"How about trying one more time while there is still a Dem Congress to fix this legal mess with a Student Debt Relief Act," he tweeted , "instead of executive orders that will lose?

Tue, 15 Nov 2022 06:06:00 -0600 en text/html
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