SAFRA, the Democrats’ long-standing and excellent plan to stop giving private student loan agencies a pointless subsidy and plow the savings into expanding the pool of tuition aid, sailed through the House months ago but has been stalled out in the Senate. The problem is that when you combine the 100 percent GOP lockstep opposition to everything with the fact that any effort to curb unjust subsidies hurts a local industry in someone’s state, it’s basically impossible to ever get 60 votes for public interest reform of this sort. The solution is reconciliation, and now it looks like SAFRA will be rolled into the health care reconciliation sidecar.
This is excellent news for two reasons. First because it’s good policy, and second because as Steve Benen points out it gives progressives—including crucial House progressives—something else to like about the health care bill. The only way to get SAFRA done is to get health care done, and the only way to get health care done is to vote on the Senate bill and the reconciliation sidecar. I think this should also further bolster confidence that the Senate will, in fact, follow through on its reconciliation promises since SAFRA is an important priority for the administration and for Tom Harkin.