One of the worst modern political myths is that of the “job creator,” a caricature that’s supposed to represent entrepreneurs and small business owners who would do just fine if only government would do away with regulations and taxes. The job creator drives the American economy, but they can only do so if the free market, by way of their own hand, can do whatever it wants where prices, wages and work rules are concerned.
It is true that small business account for an outsized share of new employment opportunities in the country. But the political hucksters who love invoking “job creators” as a class tend to conveniently ignore how the policies they favor hurt the same people most likely to enter that entrepreneurial class and create the jobs that sustain many communities.
This is a story about student loan debt cancellation, and the liars who have managed to at least temporarily derail it. Specifically, I’m talking about a group called the Job Creators Network Foundation, which calls itself “a nonpartisan organization founded by entrepreneurs who believe the best defense against bad government policies is a well-informed public,” but in truth leans hard to the political right. JCNF is the money behind the plaintiffs in Myrna Brown et al vs. the U.S. Department of Education, who argued that the Biden Administration’s plan to wipe out up to $20,000 in student loan debt for some borrowers wasn’t fair to them because they weren’t included.
That’s right: While U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman ultimately declared the program unlawful based on arguments from the plaintiffs’ lawyers that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act’s basic notice-and-comment clause, the second page of the lawsuit reveals why the plaintiffs were really mad:
Plaintiffs are just a few of the millions of Americans who are being harmed by the Department’s arbitrary decisionmaking. Plaintiff Myra Brown does not qualify for debt forgiveness because the Debt Forgiveness Program does not cover commercially held loans that are not in default, and Plaintiff Alexander Taylor does not qualify for the full amount of debt forgiveness because he did not receive a Pell Grant when he was in college...
If the Department is going to pursue debt forgiveness, Plaintiffs believe that their student loan debt should be forgiven too. Ms. Brown believes it is irrational, arbitrary, and unfair to exclude her from the Program because her federal student loans are commercially held and not in default. Mr. Taylor believes that it is irrational, arbitrary, and unfair to calculate the amount of debt forgiveness he receives based on the financial circumstances of his parents many years ago.
Translation: Mommy and Daddy had cake and therefore I don’t actually need student loan relief, but if I can’t get it, nobody should.
Meanwhile, as many as 40 million people who stood to benefit from having as much as twenty grand in debt taken off their hands are now back under the gun. And guess who stands to be hurt worst? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s Black and Hispanic women, who, the government says, earn less and tend to borrow more to complete their educations.
And here’s where it goes to shit for the Job Creators Network: Black women, that same group who stood to benefit most from student loan forgiveness, are the fastest-growing demographic group of entrepreneurs in the country. That’s not me saying it, it’s the stalwart of capitalism known as J.P. Morgan, which calculated that the number of businesses owned by Black women grew by 50% in the U.S. in the five years prior to the start of the pandemic in late 2019. Black women account for 36% of all Black employers and 42 percent of all women who set up shop between 2014 and 2019, J.P. Morgan’s research shows.
But they also face challenges, most significantly as it relates to access to capital. Black women founders start with less capital, have lower earnings and their businesses average lower revenue at the startup stage than other groups of entrepreneurs. In summary: if you really wanted to do something for job creators, you’d start by helping Black women. And one of the best ways you can help Black women create more jobs is by lifting financial burdens from their shoulders.
But of course, Job Creators Network Foundation’s goal wasn’t helping job creators at all. When it talks about job creation, Black women aren’t who they have in mind, which is why it’s easy to give lip service to supporting entrepreneurs while doing the very thing that hurts the most likely group of business owners in the country the worst.