Republicans Block Senate Action on Bill to Prevent Student Loan Rate Hike
As we’ve discussed before, student loan interest rates are set to double on July 1 unless Congress takes action. Before it recess, House Republicans passed a mean-spirited bill that paid for the extension of current rates by robbing an important preventive health fund that disproportionately benefits women and children by providing cancer screenings and immunizations, among many other things. For their part, House Democrats had instead proposed paying for the extension by ending billions in wasteful taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil, which just last week reported $33.5 BILLION in profits for the first quarter.
Here’s the rundown on today’s action.
WHAT: A bill to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling.
WHERE: The U.S. Senate.
HOW WAS IT PAID FOR: Instead of going along with the GOP’s latest salvo in its war on women, Senate Democrats instead proposed closing a tax loophole that allows wealthy people to avoid paying employment taxes.
WHAT WAS THE VOTE: As is now typical, Republicans demanded a 60-vote threshold on the bill, meaning it failed despite garnering the support of 53 senators. Of those voting today, every Democrat* voted in favor of taking up the bill, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voted “present,” and every single other Republican voted against even debating the bill.
WHY DID THE GOP VOTE NO: It’s apparent that Republicans will do nearly anything to protect the wealthiest Americans. Interestingly, however, just a few years ago when former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) was in the crosshairs for taking advantage of the tax loophole, conservatives were eager to get rid of it, writes the New York Times:
But conservatives have often had a dim view of this loophole. In 2004, the Wall Street Journal editorial page lamented:
“Senator Edwards talks about the need to provide health care for all, but that didn’t stop him from using a clever tax dodge to avoid paying $591,000 into the Medicare system. While making his fortune as a trial lawyer in 1995, he formed what is known as a ‘subchapter S’ corporation, with himself as the sole shareholder. Instead of taking his $26.9 million in earnings directly in the following four years, he paid himself a salary of $360,000 a year and took the rest as corporate dividends.”
That same year, the conservative columnist Robert Novak wrote, “It is one of the last loopholes left in the Internal Revenue Code, and it is a big one.”
Even Sean Hannity of Fox News got in on the act that year, saying: “Hey, John Edwards is worth, what, $30 million to $40 million, set up a sub-S corporation to keep him from paying Medicare taxes on 90 percent of his income, and then he lectures the rest of us how Medicare is going broke.”
IN ONE SENTENCE: Republicans have shown time and again that no cost is too great for women, students, workers, and the poor to bear in order to protect giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations.
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