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Will Republicans Stick It To Students? (Again.)
Will Republicans Stick It To Students? (Again.)
Will the GOP Force Students & Their Families to Take on Even More Debt?
As it stands now, the interest rate on loans for many students will DOUBLE come July 1. This change would impact more than 7.4 MILLION students, forcing them to pile on even more debt at time when student debt is already at record levels. In fact, there’s now more student debt held by Americans than credit card debt. Shockingly, even those over 60 years old now carry $36 BILLION in student debt.
(You can see complete state-by-state data about how the potential doubling of rates would impact students in your state here.)
Fortunately, President Obama and Democrats in Congress have committed themselves to stopping this dramatic rate hike on students.
The only problem? Getting Republicans to agree.
Republicans React to the Potential Doubling of Interest Rates
Republicans reactions to the president’s proposal to protect students have generally varied from bad to worse. Here’s a few:
- Attack the Students: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who chairs a key Congressional subcommittee on education, recently attacked students who carry a lot of debt:
“I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that. We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that. I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ You don’t have it dumped in your lap.”
- Blame Democrats: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today blamed Democrats for only lowering rates for student loans for the previous five years — a move that Republicans also initially opposed back in 2007. It’s unclear how this is meant to explain or justify the current Republican opposition to keeping rates low.
- Demand Other Cuts to Education Instead: Leading Republicans, including the chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, have said the only way to keep rates low is to pay for doing so with more cuts to other education programs.
- Deny That Doubling Rates is a Big Deal: Speaking on a press call for the Romney campaign today, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) said the only way the low rates could be extended is through cuts elsewhere, while also downplaying the importance of the problem:
“In the grand scheme of things, it’s not what we ought to be — we shouldn’t allow issues like this to bog down the bigger agenda, which is how do create jobs in this country…In the meantime, we need to be focused on the bigger issues.”
- Refuse to Say Where You Stand: Rep. Cornelius McGillicuddy IV (R-FL), who is also currently running for the Senate, refused today to even say where stands on the issue, saying only that he “will absolutely be able to cast a vote” when it comes up.
What Does Mitt Romney Think?
Perhaps sensing the political problem of calling for trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while needlessly jacking up interest rates on student loans, Mitt Romney yesterday went out of his way to say that he doesn’t believe student loan interest rates should increase. This, of course, puts Romney at odds with Congressional Republicans, but he appears to be doing little or nothing to persuade them to get behind the president’s plan to prevent the doubling of rates.
A closer look at Romney’s record, however, exposes his indifference to those seeking higher education and the plight of students loaded down with massive debts:
- The Ryan Republican budget plan that Romney has eagerly embraced called for the doubling of student loan interest rates.
- The Romney-Ryan Republican budget plan includes devastating cuts to the Pell Grant program — cuts so deep they’d kick more than a million students off the program.
- When asked about the growing problem of college affordability, Romney told students they should just “shop around” or join the military.
- When one student asked Romney what he’d do to help her with her crushing student debt, his reply was merely, “Hopefully get you a real good job that gets you real good pay.”
- Earlier this year, Romney suggested that government involvement in student loans was a bad thing and came out in favor of giving billions of dollars a year in student loan money back to the Wall Street banks — a wasteful and unjustifiable giveaway that President Obama finally brought to an end in 2010.
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
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