The House will vote today on a bill to prevent the interest rate on government-backed student loans from doubling. Both Republicans and Democrats support the extension on the lower rate, but not the Club for Growth, the deep-pocketed political group backed by wealthy conservative donors, especially from the financial sector.
The group put out a “Key Vote Alert” this morning “urg[ing] all House members to vote “NO” on the Interest Rate Reduction Act (HR 4628)” and warning members that their vote may be used against them on the Club’s Congressional Scorecard, which they use to rate members when making considerations about endorsements and independent expenditures.
The Club explains that it thinks the government should not be subsidizing student loans and that the the Affordable Care Act should only be repealed as a whole:
Regardless of the merits, the government should not be in the business of subsidizing student loans. [...] It’s bad policy to subsidize student loans in the first place, but the net result will likely drive up tuition costs for all students, making the overall cost of the bill much higher than its current price tag. House Republicans want to offset this subsidy by repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created with the passage of ObamaCare. That fund should indeed be repealed, but fiscal conservatives should only try to repeal the entire law, not just parts of it. And for the most part, the offset is irrelevant. Fiscal conservatives should not be promoting bad policy, which this bill contains.
As Education Secretary Arne Duncan has noted, federal tuition assistance has not at all kept up with tuition increases, so there is little evidence to support the Club’s claim that subsidizing student loans leads to higher tuition costs. Data from Pell Grants also casts doubt on the claim.
The Club has been active in a number key Republican primary elections this year, funding hard-right challengers against mainline conservative incumbents.
The White House has threatened to veto the GOP’s student loan bill over its cuts to the Affordable Care Act, the AP reports.