The Republican nominee for Gabby Giffords’ old congressional seat declared this week that he’s willing to let interest rates on student loans double on July 1 because Congress should “deal with the huge problems right now” instead.
Jesse Kelly, who gained notoriety after hosting an M-16 shooting event in 2010 to “remove” Giffords from her seat, was asked on MSNBC Wednesday about student loan interest rates, which are set to double next month. Kelly tepidly said he wanted to fix the interest rates, but then declared that he didn’t want to take up the issue until after Congress had dealt with the Bush tax cuts and the debt ceiling. The solution, according to Kelly, was to let the student loan rates double now, then “deal with that retroactively.”
TODD: First of all, are you in favor of trying to fix the interest rate on student loans so that it does not double?
KELLY: I am in favor of it, but I am in favor of taking care of that after we take care of the most important things right now, which is stopping the Obama tax increases, that’s making sure we don’t increase the debt ceiling without spending concessions. It’s things like that that the Congress needs to be sinking its teeth into right now.
TODD: So you would let it double? Because it’s going to double on July 1st? Let it double now, deal with it later?
KELLY: What I can say is I say the same thing the Speaker of the House is saying right now. Deal with that retroactively, deal with the huge problems right now.
The Bush tax cuts won’t expire until the end of 2012, and we will not hit the debt ceiling until a few months into 2013. If Kelly wants to wait until those other issues are resolved before dealing with student loans, rates could double for at least nine months. In that time, needy students could wind up paying as much as $750 in added interest payments.
Whether or not Kelly gets to put his plan into action will be determined next week. Voters in Arizona’s 8th congressional district will have a special election on Tuesday, June 12 to fill the remainder of Giffords’ term.