Obama to Congress: Pass a student loan bill
By GEOFF HOLTZMAN
Talk Radio News Service
WASHINGTON – President Obama again challenged lawmakers to reach a deal on preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling at the start of next month.
“If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year,” he said during a statement at the White House. ”If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike.”
The speech was similar to a string of other public appeals the president has made in recent weeks to try and get the issue resolved. In fact, he lamented that he’s “lost track” at this point of how many times he has addressed the matter.
All jokes aside, Obama knows that he needs Congress’ help in keeping the rate on Stafford loans at 3.4 percent for another year. The problem is that it’s rather uncertain whether Republicans and Democrats will agree on how to offset the cost of doing so by their July 1 deadline.
Senate Democrats have said that they would prefer to pay for the $6 billion rate freeze by hiking premiums on the amount companies pay for insuring their employee pensions. Republicans, on the other hand, have submitted myriad proposals, ranging from cutting preventative health programs created within the Affordable Care Act, to requiring federal employees to contribute slightly more to their government pensions.
Not surprisingly, Obama praised the Democratic plan, while suggesting that the House-passed plan to strike a component of the healthcare law “would create a new problem.”
“There’s still ten days for Congress to do the right thing,” the president said. “I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done, and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet.”
Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Jay Carney guaranteed reporters that the administration is currently holding behind-the-scenes talks with lawmakers from both parties on how best to reach an agreement.
When pressed, however, he would not say which ones have been contacted. That prompted senior congressional GOP aides to refute Carney’s claim.
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