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Friday, May 31, 2013

Obama goes on offensive with student loan rate fight

Yahoo! News - Obama pressures Congress to prevent student loan rate increase - his way
Yahoo! News: President Barack Obama on Friday publicly called on Congress to prevent Stafford student loan interest rates from doubling this summer.

The president, who spent time on the 2012 campaign trail speaking out against a rate increase, spoke in the Rose Garden on Friday surrounded by college students. He pressed Congress to extend current rates or work toward a compromise to avoid the increase—3.4 to 6.8 percent—set to take effect July 1.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said reforms are needed, but they are divided over the solution.

“Higher education cannot be a luxury for a privileged few,” Obama said on Friday. He noted, as he has in the past, that it was only nine years ago that he and his wife, Michelle, finally paid off their student loans, which he said cost more than his mortgage. “And we were lucky,” he said, noting they had “more resources than many.” And this, he added, was around the time the first couple planned to start saving for their daughters’ college funds.

Obama had warned on the 2012 campaign trail that allowing rates to double would cost the average student borrower $1,000 for each year of college over the life of the loan. Stafford loans are offered to low- and middle-income students. That added cost could greatly affect families weighing the expense of college, as well as put recent graduates in difficult positions, especially given the current tough economic climate, experts say.
What’s interesting here is the Republican response to Obama’s push, which is basically, “But we’re supposed to be freaking out about scandals!

Recent polling shows that interest in these overblown controversies was always a largely partisan phenomenon and that the public at large have given them little weight. So the President seems to feel like he’s able to go back on the offensive with a substantive policy push, rather than letting Washington continue to be bogged down with political soap opera BS. The GOP’s non-response to that push shows that they’ve got pretty much nothing here. All they can do is beg the media not to cancel that soap opera.

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