Republican lawmakers looking for yet another way to enrich Wall Street backers at the expense of the middle-class have their sights set to the future, literally. In July the interest rates on student loans, which are taken out by nearly eight million students each year, will double.
The Obama administration has begun an all-out push to get Congress to extend the low interest rate on federal student loans, but Republicans are deeply opposed to keeping higher education affordable for most Americans. Or, more accurately, they see resisting the extension as a way to immediately reward their political backers while discouraging middle-class and low-income students from pursuing higher education.
Americans currently owe more on student loans than on credit cards with student debt topping $1 trillion for the first time. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the one-year freeze on the interest rate for subsidized Stafford loans would cost $6 billion. Republicans argue the extension is too expensive for taxpayers, despite the fact that it is only slightly more than the annual amount the Buffet Rule would have brought in, which Republicans opposed as political theater.
Just like the Republican attacks on women’s rights, this looming battle over student loans illustrates just how different the Republicans are from the Democrats. The battle over student loans is really a battle over opportunity. Democrats see government subsidies to help make college affordable for the middle-income and low-income families a matter of creating opportunity for its citizens. Republicans see making higher education unbearably expensive as a means of creating opportunity for themselves.
Photo from rrunaway via flickr.