Walsh’s remarks came at a town hall meeting in Wheeling, Illinois after being asked about the impending student loan showdown in Congress. Democrats are pushing to keep student loan interest rates from doubling their current rate in July; Republicans have blocked their efforts thus far. The Illinois congressman was beside himself with disbelief, telling the audience incredulously that President Obama was pushing for “basically free college education.”
CONSTITUENT: The latest debt twist of course is student loans, where the federal government has created such demand over the past 20 years that the cost of education has skyrocketed. I believe Congress wants to accommodate this reduction in the interest rate by paying for it, via reallocation of funds from some medical account. I believe the president wants simply to go further into debt. How will that play out and will the Republican House stay strong and if we want to subsidize that more can we at least pay for it?
WALSH: Look what this president’s doing. He was running around a month and a half ago basically saying, “free contraceptives for everybody.” Free contraceptives. What’s he been doing now the past couple weeks? Basically free college education. Student debt? Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it, you’ll pick it up.
Student loan interest rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent in two months if Walsh and House Republicans continue to block Democratic efforts to keep them low. Republicans passed an extension of the rate last week but paid for it with funds from health care reform, knowing Democrats would never accept it.
If an agreement isn’t reached, they will double at a time when student loan debt is larger than credit card debt and car loan debt across the country. As the cost of tuition has soared, so has the amount of money students have had to borrow to pay for their education. This is not about “free college education”; it’s about preventing student loan debt from becoming an even larger problem than it already is.