Entries in Student Loan Rate Extension (3)


Differences Persist in Congress’ Struggle to Extend Student Loan Rate

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The top congressional leadership was out in full force on Thursday as leaders from both political parties in both chambers of Congress promoted the position of their respective caucuses in the latest battle over congressional funding on Capitol Hill.

At issue is finding an amicable way to pay for or offset the costs of extending the current student loan interest rate of 3.4 percent, rather than permitting the rate to double on July 1 to 6.8 percent.

Republicans and Democrats have both proposed alternative methods to cover the cost of the extension and, judging by their comments on Thursday, a huge gulf remains between the two parties.  While House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced on Wednesday that the House would vote Friday on a one-year extension that is paid for by pulling funds from the president’s health care law, Democrats prefer to raise taxes on small businesses in order to cover the $6 billion expense.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was “very disappointed” in Boehner’s plan to hold a vote on the GOP’s bill Friday, telling reporters that covering the cost by pulling from preventive health care funds “doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me.”

“We simply want to renew this, and it’s the right thing to do.  This affects seven million students.  They’ll get an average of about $1,000 a year increase in their interest and that’s a lot [for those] struggling to get through school,” Reid told reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.  “We believe there’s an easy solution.  We can pay for this with a tax that people who make a lot of money have been avoiding for a long time by changing from ordinary income, they put this into sub-chapter S and avoid taxes.”

New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, the number three ranked Democrat in the Senate, said that the House’s way of paying for the rate is a “poison pill” that stands no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“If it’s true Republicans support stopping the rate hike, they have a weird way of showing it.  In the House, the proposal they’re advancing has a poison pill attached to it,” Schumer said.  “Their offset is a partisan proposal that tries to refight the debate over the president’s health care law.  That’s not a serious attempt to pass this student loan bill.”

Schumer complained that Republicans are attempting to force Democrats to “choose between helping students afford college tuition or forcing women to go without mammograms.”

“They want to give to the middle class, but only when they take from the middle class and that’s because they don’t want to touch their true constituency, the wealthiest people in America who at every turn they try to make their lives even better,” he said.  “They’re not the people who need help in America.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pelosi: GOP Plan on Student Loan Rate ‘Assault on Women’s Health’

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi railed against Republican efforts to offset the one-year extension of the 3.4 percent student loan rate by taking money out of a fund she believes is imperative to the “survival to women.”

Pelosi told reporters that she is whipping her caucus to oppose the GOP’s proposal.

“We will not support a bill that robs Peter to pay Paul, which ostensibly supports a middle-class initiative while making those very same people pay for it,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill.  “In order to pay for it, [House Republicans] are going to make an assault on women’s health, make another assault on women’s health, continue our assault on women’s health and pay for this with prevention initiatives that are in effect right now for childhood immunization; for screening for breast cancer, for cervical cancer; and for initiatives to reduce birth defects -- a large part of what the Center for Disease Control does in terms of prevention.”

The Democratic leader said the funding that Republicans hope to use to pay for the extension, which will come up for a vote in the House on Friday, is integral to the “survival to women.”  House Speaker John Boehner has labeled the same prevention fund a “slush fund.”

“Well, it may be a slush fund to him, but it’s survival to women,” Pelosi said.  “It’s survival to women.   And that just goes to show you what a luxury he thinks it is to have good health for women.  We do not agree.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boehner Claims Obama Made Presidency ‘Smaller’

Toby Jorrin/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner accused President Obama of diminishing the traditional role of the presidency by inventing “fake fights” over the student loan rate extension and parading around the country on campaign trips aboard Air Force One disguised as official business at taxpayers’ expense.

“This is the biggest job in the world and I’ve never seen a president make it smaller,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said during his weekly news conference. “The president keeps attempting to invent these fake fights because he doesn’t have a record of success or a positive agenda for our country. It’s as simple as this: The emperor has no clothes. They can’t talk about their record on jobs because their policies have made the economy worse. They can’t talk about their record on spending because the president’s policies have added $5 trillion to the national debt and they can’t talk about their record on gas prices because gas prices have more than doubled on the president’s watch.”

Boehner called on President Obama’s campaign to reimburse the federal Treasury for his trips to Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina over the past week during which he made the student loan rate extension the focal point of his stump speech.

“The White House it seems is also entirely devoted to this type of petty politics. This week the president traveled across the country on taxpayers’ dime at a cost of $179,000 an hour insisting that Congress fix a problem that we were already working on,” he said. “This is beneath the dignity of the White House. Democrats and Republicans knew that this was going to take effect. Democrats and Republicans fully expected this would be taken care of and for the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic and his campaign ought to be reimbursing the Treasury for the cost of this trip.”

Boehner said that the country is facing major economic and fiscal challenges, but still Obama is “wasting time on a fake fight to try and gain his own reelection.” The speaker admonished the president for carrying on with “political stunts” that are not worthy of his office.

“Presidents have the ability to use Air Force One and all the tools of the federal government to do official business and when you look at almost all of the presidents they find official business to do along with their campaigning, but this one does not pass the straight-face test,” he said. “You know it, and I know it, so it’s time for the Obama campaign to pony up and reimburse the Treasury.”

Boehner repeated his reminder that Democrats were in control of both Houses of Congress when the loan rates were written into law in 2007. He said that Congress has already taken money from what he termed as a “slush fund” to help offset the payroll tax credit, a precedent Democrats set by voting for the extension earlier this year.

“Democrats put this cliff into law,” he said. “They’re the ones that put into law the doubling of student loan interest rates to occur this July, and why they did it? I don’t know, but the fact is as students are already struggling with the cost of college, we do not want to see these interest rates go up, and there was never any thought these interest rates would go up.”

Boehner said he has spoken with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is crafting an alternative to the DREAM Act, which would provide some children of illegal immigrants with non-immigrant visas to complete their education or serve in the military.

“There’s always hope. I did talk to Senator Rubio about his idea and gave me some particulars about how this would work,” Boehner said. “I found it of interest, but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment and to deal with a very difficult issue like this I think it would be difficult at best, but again let me ask this question. The president of the United States runs around the country doing speeches, done a couple of speeches over the last 15 months about immigration. Matter of fact, over the last three years, he’s done a number of speeches about immigration. Where’s the president’s immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue?”

As he wrapped up his weekly news conference, Boehner said of Obama: “Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go to work.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio