James criticizes student-loan relief despite having $2.7 million PPP forgiven

Marlinga criticizes GOP foe for ‘hypocrisy’ of opposed student-loan forgiveness

Congressional candidate Carl Marlinga criticized foe John James for opposing student-loan debt forgiveness while his auto-related company did not repay $2.7 million in PPP loans.

James is president of automotive supplier Renaissance Global Logistics in Detroit, which took Paycheck Protection Program loans of $1.4 million and $1.3 million during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican James criticized Democratic President Joe Biden’s plan announced Wednesday to forgive $10,000 or $20,000 of student-loan debt for those eligible. Marlinga, a Democrat, supports Biden’s plan.

“This is the height of hypocrisy when he is criticizing some kid receiving forgiveness for a $10,000 loan that has been working to try and pay when he (James) got ($2.7 million) from the U.S. Treasury that he is not paying back,” Marlinga said. “I don’t know how he has the consciousness to complain about it.”

Renaissance Global Logistics, a tier 1 logistics services company, received a $1.3 million PPP loan in April 2020 and a $1.4 million PPP loan in April 2021, both times to save 100 jobs, according to federal records and propublica.org. Both loans were forgiven in September 2021, according to propublica.

James’ responded: “Through his opposition to protecting the jobs of auto workers in a time of crisis, Carl Marlinga proves that not only does he not understand how the auto industry works or how to protect small business and hardworking people, he does not care.”

James on Wednesday afternoon wrote on Twitter in response to Biden’s announcement: “Working families who’ve paid off college, who went straight to work or who went straight to war after HS are already struggling & can’t afford to bail out woke universities w/ billion dollar endowments,” James wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. “One of the only inflation rates higher than energy is college tuition!”

After Biden’s announcement was criticized by many Republicans, the White House Twitter account highlighted members of Congress who criticized it and yet received PPP loans that were forgiven.

Marlinga said he supports the program because many young people in the past made “mistakes” and are “saddled” with debt.

“A lot of these young people when they took out the loans they had no idea about the job market,” he said. “They made mistakes, going into a major that does not pay well and are paying for it the rest of their lives.”

He said in recent years, college graduates “stopped taking out these loans willy nilly.”

He supports a program in which all high school graduates receive financial assistance for other pursuits as well, whether it is going to college or trade school, or starting a business. Recipients would be obligated to pay 10% of their income for 15 years to repay the loan, he said.

Marlinga and James will face off Nov. 8 for the 10th District congressional district seat in Michigan. The district is composed of all of Macomb County south of Hall Road (M-15), Shelby Township, Utica, a section of southwest Macomb Township, and Rochester and Rochester Hills. The election is Nov. 8.

James, 41, of Farmington Hills, is also vice president of James Group International and a military veteran.

Marlinga, 75, of Sterling Heights, is a former Macomb County judge and prosecutor.

Biden’s announcement Wednesday fulfilled a campaign promise to ease the burden of student loan debt. He is erasing $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that earn less than $250,000. He’s canceling an additional $10,000 for those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college.

Critics lambasted the plan for its cost, which some say could be up to $1 trillion, although the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit that advocates for lower deficits, estimates it will run $400 to $600 billion.

The plan doesn’t apply to future college students, but Biden is proposing a separate rule that would reduce monthly payments on federal student debt. The proposal would create a new payment plan requiring borrowers to pay no more than 5% of their earnings and forgive any remaining balance after 10 years. It would also raise the floor for repayments, meaning no one earning less than 225% of the federal poverty level would need to make monthly payments.