The Obama administration this week, as part of its effort to boost the economy without having to rely on congressional action, announced a new plan to help higher education students reduce their loan debt. The administration’s plan would both help students refinance and consolidate their loans, as well as lower the amount that students can be required to pay from 15 percent of their income to 10 percent.
The GOP, after refusing to even consider President Obama’s American Jobs Act in the House and filibustering it in the Senate, has come out against the student loans plan:
HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JOHN KLINE (R-MN): “Sadly, the President has once again chosen to put politics before policy, touting a plan that will do nothing to help the nation’s unemployed workers…What this plan will do instead is encourage more borrowing across the board. That means more debt for students, more debt for taxpayers, and more red ink on the government’s books.”
SEN. MIKE ENZI (R-WY): “While I agree that the rising cost of higher education is a problem that must be urgently addressed, the president has made no effort to work with Congress to find any bipartisan solutions on the student loan debt issue…Because this latest plan was literally drafted behind closed doors, we are left with more questions than answers. The president should stop campaigning and start working with Congress to get the results that the American people expect.”
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): Alexander said that “the real way to reduce the burden of student-loan debt is to slow down the growth of tuition and the best way to do that is to ‘reduce health care costs and mandates that are soaking up state dollars that in the past have gone to support public colleges and universities.’”
The right-wing media have also piled on, saying that Obama just wants to “buy some votes of the youth,” or “buy votes at the expense of the American taxpayer.”
It’s not surprising that the GOP is taking a stand against a plan that could lower loan payments for some students by hundreds of dollars per month. After all, Republicans vigorously opposed reforms that stopped billions of federal dollars from going to banks to act as unnecessary middlemen in the federal student loan program, falsely calling the end to flagrant corporate welfare a “Washington takeover” of the student loan industry.
Outstanding student loan debt is expected to hit $1trillion this year, and student debt has already surpassed total credit card debt. Reducing these debt burdens can help create jobs by freeing up money for those with loans to spend elsewhere. But the GOP is still standing against Obama’s plan, for reasons that are entirely unclear, beyond the fact that Obama proposed it