If Congress doesn’t act, the interest rates on government-backed student loan will jump in July, so President Obama has made a big push this week to prevent that from happening. Republicans have thus far held up the extension, though presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney called for preserving the lower rates Monday.
But Romney’s “man in Congress,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), seems to misunderstand the issue. In an interview on MSNBC this afternoon, Blunt blamed high student loan rates on the Affordable Care Act:
BLUNT: Why is that rate as high as it is? Because it was one of the pay-fors in the president’s health care plan. If the health care plan goes away, as the court very well might decide, there is no longer an argument about this loan rate, because it was used to take money from students, and pay for health care. … The wrapping up of that student loan thing into the Obama health care deal is the real problem here.
In fact, the rate was set back in 2007, when President Bush signed a Democratic-backed law to lower the rate from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. That law expires on July 1 of this year, and the lower rates end along with it. The Affordable Care Act and President Obama are entirely irrelevant.
Blunt is likely thinking of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), a bill that was attached to the Affordable Care Act. And while it did not affect loan rates, it did remove banker middlemen from the student loan process, which will save taxpayers millions of dollars.