Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh (R) last month announced his opposition to legislation that would prevent the interest rates on federal student loans from doubling in July, saying it amounted to giving everyone “basically free college education.”
Last weekend, in his first debate against his challenger, Tammy Duckworth (D), Walsh reiterated that position and again struggled to maintain control of basic facts regarding student loans. Walsh said he opposed efforts to prevent rates from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent because it would bring minimal benefit to students while adding to the national deficit, the Chicago Tribune reports:
Walsh defended his vote against a plan to keep student interest rates at 3.6 percent [sic] after a July 1 deadline, saying it would not result in the savings that have been touted. Walsh said new students would save just $7 a month while the national deficit would rise by $6 billion.
“This was a perfect issue that just typifies everything that’s wrong in Washington,” Walsh said. “Here was this president whose numbers might be down among young Americans. So what’s he going to do? He’s going to try to throw a bone to young Americans.“
Walsh’s assertions aren’t quite correct. The doubling of the current interest rate would cost students an average of $1,000 a year, or about $83 a month. And neither the House nor Senate version adds a single cent to the national deficit. Senate Democrats paid for their version by closing a tax loophole that benefits wealthy individuals. House Republicans have thus far refused to cover the cost by closing tax loopholes, instead choosing to pay for their version with cuts to the prevention fund from the Affordable Care Act.