Katie LaPotin & Laura Byrne, Red Alert Politics, May 31, 2013
Rather than work with Republican lawmakers to make sure that the federal student loan interest rate doesn’t double on July 1, President Obama held a press conference Friday morning bashing the House’s proposed legislation.
He believes that the legislation, which would provide a market-based variable interest rate for federal student loans like what the president proposed in his 2013 budget, doesn’t actually keep the interest rates low.
“The House bill isn’t smart and it’s not fair,” Obama said while standing in front of dozens of college students in the White House Rose Garden. “I’m glad the House is paying attention to it, but they didn’t do it in the right way. ”
According to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), however, the House bill does keep student loan interests from doubling.
“The differences between the House plan and the president’s are small, and there’s no reason they cannot be overcome quickly,” Boehner said in a statement Friday. “But today, rather than working to resolve the issue, the president resorted to a campaign stunt to try to score political points.”
“If he really wants to shield students from higher rates, he should work with his former colleagues in the Senate to act. That’s what our students deserve,” Boehner added.
The Republican National Committee also believes that Obama should focus instead on working with Congress to keep the student loan interest rates low, and not attack them in a press conference – especially since both Obama and Republican lawmakers on the Hill have the same goals in mind and their plans are very similar.
“Both Republicans and President Obama share a common goal on student loans. Instead of working with Republicans who have already passed legislation, Obama held a media event,” a spokesman for the RNC told Red Alert Politics. “Obama sure has talked about helping young Americans over the past four years, but when it comes to action he has continually failed Millennials who are out of work and struggling for opportunity. Our students deserve more than empty rhetoric.”
Obama’s proposal for keeping federal student loan interest rates low, which he discussed during the presser, includes lowering rates on new loans issued this year, ensuring that students have access to affordable repayment options and not charging students higher interest rates for failing to pay back their loans on time. According to the president, a freshman who borrows $27,000 over the next four years would save more than $4,300 under the president’s plan compared to what would happen if Congress doesn’t act before July 1.
Last year, Congress granted a one-year extension to prevent the federal student loan interest rate from returning to its original rate of 6.8 percent. Congress first lowered the interest rate in 2007 for five years.
“You convinced 186 Republicans in the House and 24 Republicans in the Senate to work with Democrats to keep student loan rates low,” Obama continued. “You made something bipartisan happen in this town that is — that’s a powerful thing. You guys were able to get Democrats and Republicans to vote for something that was important.”
The president also quipped that students should “tweet” their Republican legislators if they want to see action taken on his proposal before July.
“So this year, if it looks like your representatives have changed their minds, you’re going to have to call them up again or email them again or Tweet them again and ask them what happened, what changed?” Obama ”You’re still taking out these loans. You’re still facing challenges.”