Thursday, April 26, 2012
On July 1, the interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans are set to jump from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. Since 7.4 million Americans currently hold such loans, this could be a bit of a problem. This week, President Obama brought attention to the issue through a now controversial tour of college campuses, something Speaker of the House John Boehner calls "pathetic." Obama and Democrat lawmakers have proposed extending the low rate and offset the costs by eliminating some tax loopholes, including some subsidies for oil companies. Caught a bit flat-footed initially, Republicans came to agree that the rates shouldn't go up and Boehner made his own proposal to keep the rates low. However, like most legislation proposed in the House, it carries riders completely unacceptable to the other side of the aisle. The Republican version funds itself by cutting funds from the health care law, including money set aside for women's health research and screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Once again, it's the old oil companies vs. cancer prevention debate. Democrats have vowed to fight the proposal and the state is set for still another contentious battle over a basic issue that everyone agrees on but can't possibly agree on.