Senate Republicans today derailed a Democratic bill that would have kept interest rates on federally-insured college loans from doubling in July, giving Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine an opportunity to lambaste opponent George Allen for a vote he might have made. Had he been in the Senate, that is. Republicans said they favor preventing the interest rate hike but objected to paying for it by boosting Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on high-income individuals.
In fact, on April 26, Allen called for extending the existing loan rate.
â€œMy opponentâ€™s record indicates heâ€™d be another Republican vote to let these rates double. In the Senate he voted for the largest cut to student loans in the nationâ€™s history, voted to prioritize tax breaks for oil companies that donâ€™t need them over financial aid for students, and continues to praise the Ryan budget that counts on the doubling of these rates and jeopardizes the future of the Pell Grant program,” Kaine said. “Those are not the kinds of responsible policies we need to create a solid foundation for economic growth, they are a reckless politicizing of our young people’s future.â€
Kaine accused Senate Republicans of “playing unfortunate partisan games with the financial stability of students in Virginia and across the country instead of acting swiftly to prevent the doubling of Stafford loan interest rates.”
“We will only develop the worldâ€™s most talented workforce when we increase college affordability and accessibility, and the rejection of this measure has rolled back progress toward that goal,” Kaine said.
But Republican leaders in the Senate said the measure, which targeted small business owners, would have decreased the very job opportunities Democrats said they were trying to create.
“We don’t think young people should have to suffer any more than they already are as a result of this president’s failure to turn the economy around,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. He said Congress shouldn’t pay for the rate freeze by “raising taxes on the very businesses we’re counting on to hire these young people,” Bloomberg News reported.
In his April 26 statement, Allen said, “Washington needs to extend the student loan rates and fund the extension by consolidating or eliminating duplicative, wasteful government programs and policies. Thereâ€™s no reason Washington canâ€™t work together for a bipartisan solution and find savings to invest in education.”