Senate Nixes Extending Low Student Loan Rates
CBS News reports the 52-45 vote on Democrat-backed "Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012" may kick off a congressional battle over a move both parties have said should be made.
According to a White House press release, student loan debt in the U.S. is expected to hit $1 trillion today. The average California student owes somewhere around $18,000 in loans by the time they leave college and enter the already financially insecure real world.
Without the extension, the student loan rate for undergraduates will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 in July. And as CBS reports, politicians across the aisle have said the extension should be passed to protect the 7 million students at the mercy of loan debt.
Objections arose regarding what would be required to make room for that extension though, namely demanding higher taxes from privately owned companies for Social Security and Medicare.
Instead, Republicans proposed paying for the extension by getting rid of a preventative health fund in President Obama's health care reform efforts.
That suggestion hasn't gone over well.
"This is a perfectly reasonable solution to a problem both parties want to address," [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell said Tuesday. "It passed the House with bipartisan support. If Democrats want to solve this problem, they should embrace it too -- or at the very least offer a bipartisan solution of their own. The White House has done neither."
Democrats strongly object to such a proposal, which Reid argued would enact drastic cuts to preventative care programs that would "put Americans' health at risk."
"Republicans will try to explain away their 'no' votes by claiming they oppose the way the legislation is paid for," [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid said Tuesday. "They propose radical cuts to preventive health funds instead, a proposal they know that we oppose... we have already cut that plan to the bare bones. We've used this on other programs to cut and we've done it in the right way. Any fluff that was in that program is gone."
The disagreement leaves Congress at a standstill as Obama continues his reelection campaign with trips to campuses across the country, urging students to contact lawmakers and demand low rates.