The Washington Post

What the White House forgot to mention about that student loan rate hike

On Tuesday, Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill that would have kept the interest rate on new, subsidized student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent this July, amid disagreements over how to pay for a $6 billion, one-year extension of the current rate. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney quickly released a statement, but it seems he forgot to include some details. I have your back on this, Jay. Here are a few edits that make this version a little fairer:

It is extremely disappointing [but not really] that Republicans in the Senate today voted to ask millions of students to pay an average of $1,000 each [over the course of a 10-year repayment window] in order to protect a loophole that allows millionaires to dodge payroll taxes [which could be closed to pay for something else more important than extending that student-loan rate]. On July 1, more than 7.4 million students across the country will see their interest rates double unless Congress acts [though the higher rate will only apply to new loans, not existing ones, and most people with student debt never had access the 3.4 percent rate, anyway]. We’re pleased that despite failing to address it in their budget, Republicans in Congress now profess to be concerned about this coming rate hike [but of course they would, since, as this press release demonstrates, we have been trying to bludgeon political opponents with the rate-hike issue]. But now it’s time for them to stop refighting old political battles [which is ironic for us to say, because this whole rate-cut thing started in 2006 as a Democratic campaign gimmick] and prove they’re serious by proposing a real solution to keep rates low for students without burdening middle class families or undercutting preventive health care for women. [Notice how we got the “War on Women” in there?] We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to prevent rates from doubling and ensure that students continue to get a fair shot at an affordable education. [Of course, 6.8 percent would still be beyond fair to students with zero credit history.]

I hope the White House sees this in time. They wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea about this rate hike.

Update, 11:59 p.m.: The text above has been very slightly edited for clarity.

Stephen Stromberg is a Post editorial writer. He specializes in domestic policy, including energy, the environment, legal affairs and public health.


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