Yesterday, when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked what the president wanted Congress to do about student loan reform, it was a golden opportunity to justify Senate Democrats’ continued obstruction. Instead, here’s what he said:
“We expect and hope that Congress will fix this problem quickly. We believe that it can be done. The differences are not that significant.“
Mark it down as the latest in a long string of confirmations that Republicans and the White House are essentially on the same page as far as student loan reform is concerned. Remember that back in May, a Brookings expert said, “I don’t think they’re very far apart, honestly.” And in one day yesterday, various outlets reported that the two plans were “similar,” “similar,” “similar” – and, yep – “similar.”
It’s true, but even after weeks of public pressure, Senate Democrats are still going to “defy” the president by trying to extend the status quo and “put this off for a year.” They’re also still not allowing a vote on a proposal a bipartisan group of senators came up with last month. That plan, ABC News reports, “was not supported by the Senate Democratic leadership and collapsed almost as quickly as it came to light. “
“When you have a bipartisan group in the Senate who had a solution that was not far off from our solution, and yet shot down by the majority leader, you begin to wonder whether they’re looking for a solution,” Speaker Boehner said yesterday at a rally with students on the steps of the Capitol.
Indeed, if our differences “are not that significant,” why won’t Senate Democrats work with us to resolve them? Well, according to the Los Angeles Times, Democrats apparently “saw value in a one-year extension that would bring the issue to a head in 2014, when the party again hopes to rally younger voters to the polls…”
This, of course, is exactly the kind of politics that Republicans are trying to remove from the student loan system. The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can provide stability and smarter solutions to students and their families.
No, the White House “is not jumping to assist congressional Democrats” in their resistance, but the president should be urging them to seize on all this common ground and do the right thing. Our students deserve better than this same old, same old.