The Oct. 4 editorial "Student Loans (cont'd)" noted that President Bush and congressional Republicans have failed to close a loophole in laws covering student aid that permits multibillion-dollar profiteering by lenders. But it inaccurately asserted that Republicans "rightly note that Democrats weren't remotely interested in this issue until a few weeks ago, when the Institute for Public Access and Success, an education think tank, fully documented the scope of the scam."

Almost a year ago, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced Senate Bill 1793 to close the loophole and requested a Library of Congress report on the rising cost of loans with interest rates of 9.5 percent. Last Oct. 17 House Democrats asked the Government Accountability Office to review the issue. The GAO report documents the excess cost of these loans and makes clear that the Bush administration could have ended the loans long ago, saving taxpayers money.

The president did not recommend closing the loophole until February, and he has failed to take corrective action. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) did not get around to the issue until May. Facing this inaction, Democrats brought the issue to a head by offering an amendment to an appropriations bill last month to force the first vote on the matter. In the Senate Appropriations Committee, Republicans voted down a Democratic amendment to close the loophole.

Today Republicans probably will bring to the House and Senate floors a bill that would close the loophole for only one year and would still allow lenders to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in excess profits. By contrast, Democrats support a full, permanent and immediate repeal of this giveaway, with the savings earmarked for the most needy college students.




The writers, Democrats from Michigan and Maryland, are members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.