Pressure on Senate Democrats to stop an imminent student loan rate hike and accept long-term reform continues to grow, but will they budge? Will President Obama step in? Are we closing in on a victory for students and taxpayers?
These are the questions of the hour following Republicans’ latest barrage, which began on Thursday when Speaker Boehner sent the president a letter asking him to urge Senate Democrats to agree to a long-term, market-based solution like the one in his budget.
Then, “for the third time in as many weeks,” CBS News noted, “Republicans used their weekly address to push Senate Democrats and President Obama to act on federal student loan rates.” In the address, Rep. John Kline, chairman of the House Education the Workforce Committee, called on the president to show leadership in light of Senate Democrats’ recalcitrance. Because “if I didn’t know any better,” Kline said, “I would say they are content to let rates double.”
Amplifying this outcry, more editorial boards have come out in favor of a long-term, market-based solution. College students are also hoping Congress acts soon: one told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that “it’s a shame” Congress hasn’t acted, adding that “we are sitting here waiting to figure out if they are going to spare us.”
Back here in Washington, The Hill reports that “House Republicans have already passed a plan” and “it’s also apparent that Republicans feel like they have the political high ground on the issue…” Well, it’s clearly not only Republicans who feel that way. Here we are with the clock ticking, and yes, the president is making a public appearance today, but it’s on immigration, and yes, he’s giving a major address tomorrow, but it’s on climate change. Remember, this is an issue that had the president barnstorming the country last year. And while talks in the Senate to resolve all of this are occurring, even now there are suggestions that “top Democrats on Capitol Hill were not embracing the negotiations.”
As Chairman Kline said in the weekly address: “This 11th-hour scrambling is a perfect demonstration of why we need to take the politics out of student loans once and for all.” We now have an opportunity to do just that, but time is running out, and so is the patience of students and families who would have to bear the burden of Democrats’ failure to act.