On The Money — Officials turn to Supreme Court to save debt relief

The White House may need the Supreme Court to salvage its plans to wipe out student loan debt. We’ll also look at the ongoing decline in home sales and a federal investigation into why you couldn’t get Taylor Swift tickets.

🎄 But first, get your first look at the Capitol Christmas tree.

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Someone forward you this newsletter?

Biden urges SCOTUS to clear blocked debt relief

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 last two weeks that have effectively halted President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which would give federal borrowers making less than $125,000 a year up to $10,000 debt relief.

In its Friday filing, the Department of Justice (DOJ), on behalf of the administration, urged the justices to lift a ruling issued Monday by the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that halted the loan relief program, saying its current legal status has left “vulnerable borrowers in untenable limbo.”

The background: 

  • The administration’s move on Friday comes 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.

  • The panel, comprised of two Trump-appointed judges and one appointee of former President George W. Bush, said its order would remain in effect until further notice by the 8th Circuit or the Supreme Court.

The Hill’s John Kruzel and Lexi Lonas break it down here.

LEADING THE DAY

Home sales fall for ninth straight month

Home sales fell nationwide for the ninth straight month in October as high mortgage rates continue to squeeze buyers out of a once red-hot housing market.

Existing home sales in October declined by 5.9 percent from September and by more than 28 percent from a year earlier, according to data released Friday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The Federal Reserve’s series of rate hikes, has sent mortgage rates soaring and made monthly payments unaffordable for buyers across the country. And NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said rising rates in October kept up the pressure.

The Hill’s Adam Barnes explains here.

I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE

DOJ investigating Ticketmaster owner: report

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has opened an investigation into Live Nation Entertainment, the owner of Ticketmaster, according to The New York Times.

The investigation predates Ticketmaster’s disastrous attempt this week to sell tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour, with the DOJ’s antitrust division contacting music venues and players about Live Nation over the last few months, the Times reported.

The DOJ is reportedly investigating whether the company has a monopoly on the market.

Here’s more from The Hill’s Julia Shapero.

ELFED UP

Christmas tree growers warn of higher prices: ‘Inflation impacts absolutely everything’

Christmas tree growers are warning that their prices will inflate this year due to economic instability and environmental conditions.

“I think consumers can expect to see anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent increases across the board on artificial and live Christmas trees this year,” American Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Jami Warner told “Good Morning America” on Friday.

  • Tree farmers have experienced financial tolls this year, meaning that their trees could be up to 30 percent more expensive, they said. 

  • Environmental conditions could also play a factor in Christmas tree supply.  One tree farm said a drought that began earlier this year destroyed 1,000 of his Virginia pine trees, and that the loss in inventory is common among farms in the South.

The Hill’s Chloe Folmar breaks it down here.

Good to Know

Tweets that spread hate speech will be “deboosted & demonetized,” but will still be available on the platform if sought out, Twitter CEO Elon Musk said Friday.

It is the latest guidance issued by the billionaire who took over the company at the end of October on how content will be moderated on the platform.

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • The Biden administration on Friday morning announced $13 billion in funds to modernize the U.S. power grid using allocations from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday approved the first drug that delays the onset of a stage of Type 1 diabetes.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Monday.

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