Weekly Republican Address: Rep. Luke Messer on Preventing a Student Loan Interest Rate Hike

John Boehner

WASHINGTON, DC – Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) says President Obama and Senate Democrats should put politics aside and work with Republicans to prevent an immediate student loan interest rate hike on July 1st.  Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, which prevents student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1st and helps students take advantage of low interest rates whenever available.  Rep. Messer is president of the Republican freshman class and a member of the House Education the Workforce Committee.

NOTE: The Weekly Republican Address is embargoed until 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, June 8, 2013.  The audio is accessible now, and video of the address will be available to view and download once the embargo is lifted.  A full transcript follows.

“Fellow Americans: I’m Congressman Luke Messer from Indiana.  It is my honor to speak to you today on behalf of my Republican colleagues.

“This summer, more than nine million undergraduates will take out a federal student loan.  That’s nine million Americans at the start of their journey toward the American Dream.

“As a young man growing up in a small town in Indiana, I was taught: if you want a great life, get a good education.  So I did—but it wasn’t easy.  When it came time to go to college, I received scholarships and Pell grants.  I took out loans and worked my way through school with jobs ranging from collecting garbage and waiting tables to umpiring baseball games.

“What makes this country great is that my story is not exceptional.   Every year, millions of American students see their career dreams begin with the help of federal student financial aid.

“Unfortunately, in just three weeks, on July 1st, interest rates on many federal student loans are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. 

“No one wants this to happen, especially in a job market where millions of recent college grads are having a hard time finding full-time work.

“So the House of Representatives acted – not only to stop the immediate rate hike, but also to protect students over the long-term.  Our proposal will reduce rates immediately for most borrowers and get Washington politicians out of the business of arbitrarily setting interest rates.

“You see, in recent years, there have been times when interest rates on student loans have been higher than other loans in the marketplace.  For example, you could get a used car loan cheaper than a student loan.  That’s just not right.

“Taking the politics out of student loans is a common-sense fix.  It’s a plan that mirrors a proposal in President Obama’s budget.  As a matter of fact, one nonpartisan education expert said, and I quote, ‘the two proposals are really on the same page.’

“Unfortunately, rather than seize this common ground and move the ball forward, the president resorted to campaign-style tactics, stepped out into the Rose Garden, and denounced the plan.  The President actually attacked a proposal similar to one he himself offered just weeks ago.  His maneuvers are yet another example of the arrogance of power that has taken root in this administration, and it prevents us from addressing the people’s priorities.

“Making matters worse, this week Democratic leaders in the United States Senate tried to take the easy way out and maintain the status quo, which will only hurt students in the long-run.   After the usual noise and bluster, they failed to pass any legislation that would help student borrowers. 

“Our young people deserve better.  The effective unemployment rate among young people in this country today is 16 percent.  That is way too high.  Too many young people have had to come home and tell their parents that they can’t find a job.

“Student loan relief is just one example of the solutions Republicans have put forward to get our economy back on track.   Our plan for economic growth and jobs will make life work for families and expand opportunity for every American.

“We need to get our economy back on the right track and give our next generation their opportunity to live the American dream.  Working together, we can.  I hope the president and the Senate will join us to fix this problem and make life a little easier for millions of students and their families.

“Thank you for listening.”

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