House Republicans have announced that they have their own plan to keep Stafford subsidized student-loan rates at the current level, 3.4 percent, for another year, and suggest that the president has jumped ahead of the legislative process in order to make a campaign issue out of thin air. Politico reports:
The GOP will offset its cost with money from what they dub a “slush fund” in the Democrats 2010 health care law. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is holding a media availability in the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to announce the effort.
The specter of government-subsidized student loan rates doubling is the most recent attempt by the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill to paint Republicans as the model of inaction. President Barack Obama is on a nationwide college tour, slamming Congressional Republicans for allowing the Stafford loan rate to jump on July 1. In reality, Republican leadership on Capitol Hill never said they were going to let the law lapse and allow government subsidized student loan rates jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Obama got out ahead of the GOP, trying to define them on the student loan issue before they could act.
“Democrats put in place a law that would double interest rates for student loans this year. Republicans and Democrats on both sides of Capitol Hill have been working on this issue, and everyone knows we will fix it before the deadline in a few months,” a GOP leadership aide said. “This week, the president is travelling the country on the taxpayer’s dime campaigning and trying to invent a fight where it doesn’t exist. To end this charade, and eliminate the excuse for his taxpayer-funded campaign tour, the House is going to move more quickly to fix the problem.”
Update: It seems likely that the “slush fund” to which congressional leadership has referred is Obamacare’s payments to certain Medicare Advantage providers, amounting to $8 billion over ten years, which the GAO denounced yesterday as wasteful. These payments would come in the form of bonuses provided to plans that provide high-quality care, with 80 percent of the $8 billion being disbursed in the first three years.