On the day President Obama made his push for Congress to deal with student loan interest, Republican representatives took to the airwaves to sell the public on the House version of the "fix", which is no fix at all.
However, to listen to Indiana Representative Luke Messer, you'd think a crap sandwich was really crab and it's all in how you sell it. Here's what he told Luke Russert on Friday:
When "Daily Rundown" host Luke Russert asked Messer how he would reconcile the fact that Republicans are in favor of letting student loan rates rise up to 8.5 percent while it appears the president wants to keep rates between 3 and 4 percent, Messer said the GOP has a communication problem.
“Republicans have to do a better job of explaining how our ideas apply to young people," Messer said. "Sometimes it sounds like he is selling ice cream and we’re selling spinach. I think personal responsibility is pretty cool. There is nothing out of date about freedom, and we have the policies that get this budget back in line, stop the explosive growth of spending. Spending that will be paid for by this generation. We’ve got to do a better job of explaining that.”
Messer seems to think the budget should be balanced on the backs of the very same people he claims will be saddled with our national debt. The only difference is when. Messer and his fellow Republicans would like them to pay for it right now, today. Billionaires and bankers like austerity a lot, and feel like students should pay for that too. Plus, it's good politics to dump on students since few of them vote Republican, right?
Student loan interest rates are set to double on July 1st if Congress doesn't do something about that. With nearly a trillion dollars of student debt, doubling the rate would do grave harm to the solvency rate on these as well as pull more money out of the economy that those graduates could actually be spending on things that stimulate the economy.
House Republicans have passed a bill that caps interest on student loans at 8.5 percent. The Obama administration prefers to limit the amount students must pay on their loans to 10 percent of their annual income, as well as keeping rates low. The best proposal on the table comes from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who proposes that student loan rates be calculated in a similar fashion to the rate banks get from the federal government, which would put the interest rate at about .85 percent right now.
The president has called for students to call, write and tweet their Congresspeople. I agree that they should, but their effort should focus on pushing Senator Warren's proposal while calling for Congressional action in order to push for the very best deal they can get.
If we were a country that really cared about having an educated populace, we would return to values that allowed qualified students to attend public universities tuition-free and student loans would be a dead thing that we buried quietly and raised no memorials to.
If we wanted to stimulate the economy fast, we'd forgive student loans altogether so those students could free up income to spend on homes. There are a zillion different ways we could do this in a way that served our economic interests and students' economic needs, but it seems we're to be mired in a bog of nonsense about budget-balancing and personal responsibility instead.