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House Will Vote on Student Loan Interest Rates Friday

Capitol Hill at Night
There’s a harsh debate occurring on Capitol Hill right now, and one that will undoubtedly heat up even further tomorrow when the House votes on a bill that will keep student loan interest rates from doubling.

Federal student loans have had their interest rates artificially capped at 3.4 percent by legislation passed in 2007. But the legislation is set to expire on July 1, 2012, which has students, graduates, and parents paying close attention to what our lawmakers will do. If the legislation expires, the federal student loan interest rates will double, landing at their original 6.8 percent that they would be at without a cap.

In order to stop federal student loan interest rates from doubling, Congress will need to come up with $5.9 billion in order to pay for the artificially lowered rates.

Friday’s bill, proposed by House Republicans, is designed to acquire that money by slashing money from President Barack Obama’s health care program.

The area of the health care program being targeted by the Republican’s bill is the prevention and public health fund, which is a $17 billion section of the health care system that finances immunizations, screenings, research, and wellness education.

Naturally, House Democrats were quick to vocalize their opposition.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, pointed out that it was the Republicans who originally pushed the current federal budget through the House, knowing full and well that the budget would allow the student loan rates to double.

“The GOP has suddenly changed their tune now that it has become politically unpopular,” Van Hollen said, according to Businessweek.

President Obama has been making campaign appearances at college campuses, where the issue of student loan interest rates has inevitably surfaced.

“Some [Republicans] suggest that students like you have to pay more so we can help bring down the deficit,” said Obama this week at the University of Iowa. “Now, think about that. These are the same folks who ran up the deficits for the last decade. They voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits. They voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner answered the President’s recent remarks by saying the President has been, “trying to invent a fight where there wasn’t and never has been one,” according to Businessweek.

“We can and will fix the problem without a bunch of campaign-style theatrics,” Boehner added.

House Democrats hope to push their own bill through Congress that would keep student loan interest rates from doubling by raising Social Security and Medicare taxes on upper-income owners of some private corporations, which includes the private practices of lawyers and doctors, according to Businessweek.

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