No Class!: Republicans' Obstruction Will Lead to Increased Student Debt
What does it say about a political system where money to fund wars can always be found, but, not to finance students? The reality is the education of regular children is not of primary importance to economic elites. Therefore, most politicians whoâ€™re always falling over themselves to serve big moneyâ€”especially, that breed named Republicansâ€”are not really dedicated to fighting for poor students.
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Higher Rates, Debt, and Burden
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill designed to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates. What message does the Republican position on student loans—and the big business market commodification of college education—say to the children of America’s working-class who’re facing escalating debt in funding their education?
In a partisan 52-45 vote, Republicans defeated the Stop the Student Loan Interest Hike Act of 2012 with a filibuster ensuring the bill’s merit wasn’t even debated on the Senate floor. The interest rates on student loans are set to double, to 6.8 percent, this July if nothing is done. The increase would cost students, on average, another $1,000 dollars a year. Republicans claimed they support keeping the rate at 3.4 percent but are against the Democrats’ plan to plug corporate loopholes to pay for the plan. The Republicans proposed taking money from a segment of President Obama’s healthcare plan.
The Obama White House reacted by calling the bill’s defeat “extremely disappointing,” in a prepared statement. “It is extremely disappointing the Republicans in the Senate today voted to ask millions of students to pay an average of $1,000 each in order to protect a loophole that allows millionaires to dodge payroll taxes,” the statement said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) echoed the White House’s sentiments, prior to the vote saying Republicans “would rather protect wealthy tax dodgers” that help America’s students get a college education. Mr. Reid also took aim at recent Republican rhetoric that they want to help students. “Over the last two weeks, Senate Republicans have repeatedly claimed they support efforts to keep interest rates low for student loans. In fact, the Republican presidential nominee has said the same. Democrats have proposed legislation to freeze student loan interest rates for a year without adding a single penny to the deficit. Our plan creates no new taxes…It would simply stop wealthy Americans from avoiding the taxes they already owe.”
But, Republicans complain the bill will onerously tax “job creators.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill would raise taxes on “the very businesses we’re counting on to hire these young people.” Mr. McConnell, and the Republicans, put forward their plan to fund the bill—by eliminating a preventative health fund provision. Mr. McConnell stated funding the bill in this manner was “a perfectly reasonable solution to a problem both parties want to address.”
But Democrats aren’t buying that line.
“Republicans will try to explain their ‘no’ votes by claiming they oppose the way the legislation is paid for,” Mr. Reid said. “They propose radical cuts to preventative health funds instead, a proposal they know that we oppose…we have already cut that plan to the bare bones.” Senate Democrat Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said part of the Republican objective is “to kill the preventative health fund.” Mr. Harkin also accused Republicans of being “afraid” to debate the bill and explain to students why they were more invested in protecting wealthy tax dodgers.
The Republicans’ vote here speaks volumes about their true priorities. In recent weeks, the issue of student loans has become an important issue, especially since student debt just reached a whopping $1 trillion. Student debt has now surpassed credit card debt.
However, Republican have shown their insensitivity to the struggling students of America by this vote—just as they have with their intransigence in forcing banks to refinance the mortgages of American homeowners. How can Republicans argue that teachers, transportation workers and civil servants salaries must be curtailed while they refuse to plug the legal loopholes corporate crooks exploit? Republicans are always giving self-serving speeches on the virtues of following the law. Why then do they protect the wealthy that skirt their legal tax obligations?
The exploitation of America’s students by banks is a serious scourge—that is facilitated by far too many politicians. On a regular basis, children and students are admonished—by a, in many ways hypocritical national sentiment—to study hard and get a good education by parents, politicians and the citizenry alike. In America, we pretend to fully nurture the education of American children. Unfortunately, this impression is, largely, an illusion.
Sure, much lip-service is given to extolling the virtue of education. And, indeed, education is vitally important to the growth of the individual and nation. But why is it when legislative fiscal cuts are being proposed educational funding is always among the first things to be slashed? What does it say about a political system where money to fund wars can always be found, but, not to finance students? The reality is the education of regular children is not of primary importance to economic elites. Therefore, most politicians who’re always falling over themselves to serve big money—especially, that breed named Republicans—are not really dedicated to fighting for poor students.
For decades, banker barons and lending institutions have been fleecing American students dry, by turning them into debt slaves. Worst of all, these moneychangers often have the backing of Capitol Hill. Think about it, why did Congress find it acceptable to prohibit students from filing for bankruptcy, in regard to their student loans? Tellingly, a 2003 U.S. News and World Report investigation found that those in the student loan industry “used money and favors, along with their friends in Congress and the Department of Education, to get what they want.”
President Obama, by cutting out the banks as the greedy middlemen in the student loan equation, has promoted the concept of direct lending straight from the government. The president, correctly, is pointing the way towards a loan system that would be more beneficial for students.
For months now, a major part of the political Republican rhetoric has been about “controlling spending” and “debt reduction.” If Republicans were practicing what they loudly preach, why would they unanimously—no Republicans voted affirmatively—kill a bill that is about controlling the debt of students? Do they care about how the cost of education today is causing fiscal ruin for many college students?
This November, when placing their votes, students should remember that Republicans chose to block the reduction of student loan interest—because they couldn’t countenance closing the tax loopholes of the wealthy one percent. In America, many claim they believe in the concept of merit. Then, isn’t it time students who’ve shown aptitude and ability—based on their academic track-record—be supported by the government of a country which boasts about being the greatest, freest country in the history of the World?
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