Roy Blunt / Education
4:43 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Blunt says student loan debate is red herring

Missouri’s Republican Senator says he’ll continue his opposition to a plan put forth by Democrats to extend federal subsidies for student loans for another year.

Roy Blunt says an alternative plan would accomplish the same goal, without raising the deficit.  Blunt says he supports freezing student loan interest rates where they are now, at 3.4 percent, but says he would pay for the subsidy by taking the money from part of the President’s 2010 healthcare overhaul— which he claims is partially funded by interest payments from student loans.

“Apparently it was OK for students to subsidize healthcare,”Blunt said, “but not OK to take that money back when you decide that subsidy is not one that the federal government should be part of.”

Blunt accused the Democrats of pushing the issue now to generate talking points for the election cycle.

“It’s like so many of the things we’re doing now…it’s just focused on the politics of the year, rather than getting the work done that needs to be done,” Blunt said.

Not missing a beat, Democrats laid into Republicans for turning their backs on poor and middle class families who are struggling with soaring tuition costs.

Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill says the bill would not add to the deficit, and would pay for itself by eliminating a specific tax loophole for certain corporations.

“If we’re going to keep this economic recovery moving in the right direction," McCaskill said, “then we’ve got to make college more affordable and accessible and make sure our kids and grandkids can compete for the jobs of the future. That’s what this fight is all about.”

If Congress does not act soon, the rate that more than 7 million college students pay for new Stafford loans will double July 1.

Lawmakers say that that translates to students' owing about $1,000 more per year.