WASHINGTON, DC – At his weekly press briefing today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he now believes President Obama and his Democratic allies in Washington have decided to deliberately allow student loan rates to double on July 1, rather than work with Republicans to enact a fix, in an effort to create a distraction from their party’s current troubles. Boehner expressed dismay that the president appears to have resorted to picking a fake fight with Republicans to distract from divisions that are preventing a solution on student loans from advancing in the Senate. House Republicans have already passed a bill – mirroring a plan proposed in the president’s own budget – that prevents rates from doubling, and provides more certainty for students and families, but Senate Democrats have refused to send it to the president’s desk. Following are Speaker Boehner’s remarks:
“Last week’s jobs report was more of the same: slow growth, modest job gains, stagnant wages, and millions of Americans who remain out of work. The Obama administration predicted that the unemployment rate would be five percent today if the Congress enacted their ‘stimulus’ bill. Well, we’re at 7.6 percent. And I think we can certainly do better.
“Republicans have a plan for robust economic job growth in our country. As part of our jobs plan, Republicans have passed a bill to fix the student loan program and stop rates from doubling, making it easier for students and their families to make their payments and afford college. It actually mirrors a plan proposed in the president’s budget. But the Democrat-controlled Senate has refused to pass it, or any bill, for that matter, to solve the problem.
“So I’m now concerned that the president and his party have decided to deliberately allow rates to rise on students and families after July 1. Instead of engaging with the House and Senate Republicans to enact a student loan fix that we all agree is needed, they seem to be intent on picking a fake fight to create some kind of a distraction. They hope this fake fight will mask the divisions within their own party that’s blocking enactment of a solution. The consequences of this cynical political strategy are real. It could lead to rates rising on students and families on July 1 at a time when they can least afford it.
“This poster highlights how the president’s party are picking this fight. On April 10, the president releases a budget that calls for a change to a market-based interest rate for student loans. On May 9th, Chairman Kline introduced the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, a plan similar to what was outlined in the president’s budget. On May 22nd, as Republicans prepare to pass Chairman Kline’s bill mirroring what the president’s called for, the White House decides to issue a veto threat. And today, after the House has acted, the Senate still has not passed a bill to deal with this problem.
“The simple truth is the president has run into a roadblock and that roadblock is his own party over in the Senate. He can’t get the Senate to pass his bill, so the White House has resorted to picking this fight to try to mask the divisions within their own party.
“Listen, we need the president to show the courage and the leadership to help bring them along and resolve this issue. Republicans have acted. We’ve done our job, it’s time for the president and his party to do their job.”