“I’m President Barack Obama, and I too want to slow jam the news.”You’ve probably seen this already — President Obama’s appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon during which they “slow jam the news” on the need for Congress to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling (Congress must do so by July 1, or rates will go up from 3.4 to 6.8%).
At this point Republicans are predictably against extending the current rates, and their presidential candidate, Mr. Etch-a-Sketch, used to be with them. Remember when he said students shouldn’t count on the government’s help: “It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that . . . And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”
But Romney is beginning to understand how potent an issue this is, and this week conceded that he would support an extension of the current interest rates on Stafford-loans, although as Amy Davidson points out, “there was no musical component to the announcement.”
His fellow Republicans in Congress obscure their opposition to having the government assist students with their debt by claiming they don’t object to extending the lower interest rates (although the Ryan Budget that passed the House doesn’t do so) but are concerned with how to pay for it. As Greg Sargent points out they are floating various ways to pay for the extension that seem likely to get shot down by the Democrats.
And while Democrats are merely trying to maintain the status quo, it is worth making the important point, as Robert Borosage does, that they should be building the groundwork for more progressive reforms to help students, such as 0% loans and/or free tuition as public colleges.
Fair and Unbalanced
Posted: Thursday, 26 April 2012