Yesterday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that he backs the Obama administration’s effort to prevent a doubling of the interest rate on federal student loans that is scheduled to take place this summer. “I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said.
However, not all Republican candidates are quite so eager to jump on board. During an interview today with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL), who is running for the Senate, declined to say whether he’d vote to extend the current interest rate, despite being asked repeatedly:
TODD: Mitt Romney and President Obama are both endorsing essentially this plan that would not allow student loan interest rates to double by the summer. Where are you on this?
MACK: Well, look, again, I think what’s happening in the state of Florida, if you don’t mind, Chuck, I want to talk about what’s happening here in the state of Florida…
TODD: No, I understand that, but this is a vote that you’re going to have to make in Congress.
MACK: But what I’m telling you is in the state of Florida, during this Senate campaign, people are concerned about their homes and jobs. That is the issue. [...]
TODD: But you have to cast a vote about this issue of student loans. What vote are you going to cast?
MACK: When the vote comes up, we’ll cast that vote, but what I’m telling you is that people watching your program today, and if they’re in Florida, what they’re concerned about it jobs and the economy and how we’re going to balance a budget with a $16 trillion debt and a $1.4 trillion deficit. This is what, Chuck, this is what people down here are talking about.
TODD: You don’t think anybody’s concerned about their student loan interest rate?
MACK: We will absolutely be able to cast a vote, and when that happens we will be happy to do so.
Mack didn’t vote when House Republicans passed their radical fiscal 2013 budget, but Mack had derided the plan as a “joke” for not going far enough with its spending cuts. That budget would allow student loan interest rates to double in July, and House Republicans have thus far been disinclined to prevent the increase.