GREENDALE, Wisconsin — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told students at a town hall Friday that he would not support preventing a hike in their student loan interest rates if it was paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.
“Nope,” Ryan told Matt Kozlowski, a student at the University of Wisconsin, who had asked him if he’d support closing such loopholes to stave off an imminent rate hike:
STUDENT: My question for you would be, would you support closing corporate tax loopholes to pay for that as a revenue raiser?
RYAN: Nope. Well, I support closing tax loopholes for tax reform. [...] So that’s what we want to do with all those corporate loopholes is do that, and with the student loan bill let’s cut some spending because that’s more spending, let’s cut spending that is lower-priority spending to address this higher-priority need.
Watch a clip of Ryan’s remarks:
If Congress doesn’t act by July, student loan interest rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, costing needy students as much as $1,000 per year in added interest payments.
Instead of closing corporate tax loopholes, Ryan suggested paying for the bill by cutting “lower-priority spending.” House Republicans have proposed cutting preventative health care funds that would provide hundreds of thousands of breast and cervical cancer screenings for women, and using that money to prevent the interest rate hike.
Student loan debt currently tops $1 trillion, outpacing both total credit card debt and auto loan debt. The cost of college has nearly sextupled over the past 25 years, growing far quicker than general consumer items, gasoline, and even health care.
The rub is that Ryan’s budget actually aims to close corporate tax loopholes, but does so to pay for tax breaks for wealthy individuals, not students struggling with loan debt.