Kaine: Congress Should Extend Current Student Loan Interest Rates; Allen Hits Gas Prices

U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine is urging Congress to extend bipartisan legislation signed in 2007 by President Bush that cut student loan interest rates in half.  His likely Republican opponent, George Allen, offered decried high gas prices and offered proposed solution.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which expires on June 30th absent congressional action, has helped 177,469 Virginia students secure lower rates on their loans. If the lower rates expire, those students will spend an additional $145,664,759 on interest payments from one year of borrowing.

“Total student loan debt has eclipsed $1 trillion – more than credit card or auto debt,” said Kaine, the Democratic former Virginia governor who is expected to face Republican George Allen in November. “Just yesterday, the Associated Press released new analysis finding that fifty percent of our college graduates are either jobless or underemployed. At a time when too many Americans, many of them young adults just beginning their careers, are still struggling to get back on their feet, we cannot afford to raise interest rates on student loans. As Senator, I will work to lower the cost of a degree, but in the short term, our leaders must give students some relief by extending the current interest rates.

“As Governor during the worst economic crisis in a generation, I had to make tough cuts. Unlike my opponents who call for undiscerning across-the-board cuts, my administration worked to find savings in every nook and cranny of Virginia’s budget,” Kaine said. We made more than $5 billion in cuts, but we also made investments like increasing tuition assistance by more than $26 million to help more Virginia students afford college.

“A generation ago, the United States was first in the world in the number of young adults with higher education degrees. Today, we’re 16th and falling. We must build a talent-driven economy that will catapult us back to the most educated nation in the world. My Republican opponents’ misguided calls for an all cuts approach to balance our budget threaten Virginia’s students, Virginia’s businesses, and Virginia’s economy. What Republicans believe they will save in the short term, will cost our nation its competitive standing in the long run.”

Allen hits gas prices

George Allen photo

George Allen

In Emporia, George Allen joined Senator Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville), local business owner Herman Sadler, NASCAR driver and media analyst Hermie Sadler, NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler and City Council Member Woody Harris at the Sadler Travel Plaza in Emporia to discuss the adverse impact of high gasoline prices on families and businesses and propose solutions to reduce the pain at the pump.

“High fuel and energy costs touch nearly every sector of our economy and strain the budgets of hard-working families and small businesses here in Emporia and throughout Virginia,” said Allen, a former U.S. Senator and Virginia governor.  “Everywhere I go I hear similar stories about how these high prices are causing people to cut back, forcing small business owners to pay burdensome fuel surcharges on deliveries and increasing the cost of food and groceries for families.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Virginians are ready and willing to produce the energy to power our nation — the only thing missing is the political will in Washington.  It’s time to come together to unleash our plentiful energy resources and provide needed relief for those families and businesses paying as much as $30 more every time they fill-up the tank.”

NASCAR driver and media analyst Hermie Sadler spoke from his perspective as a restaurant owner about how today’s high fuel prices are impacting those who work in the restaurant industry.

“As a small business owner, I have seen firsthand how gas prices are affecting families in this area.  They have less money to buy essentials, travel, or even go out to dinner,” said Hermie Sadler. “My wife and I own a restaurant and my employees are seeing smaller tips because folks are forced to cut back.  With many servers relying on those tips as a large percentage of their income, they may have to take extra shifts or even another job to make up the difference.  These high gasoline prices are really hurting families, and I hope that with George Allen’s leadership in the U.S. Senate we can finally get an energy policy that focuses on the working families and business owners who are so often the hardest hit with high prices.”


About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.