DAVIE – The latest issue to get stuck in the swamp of Washington politics: student loan interest rates.
It has a big impact in Florida. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, said Monday as many as 500,000 students could face higher interest rates on their subsidized student loans if a fix isn't put in place by July 1. That could add $1,000 a year to the cost of a typical graduate's repayment cost, she said at a visit to Broward College's Main Campus in.
It's a familiar pattern. Unless Republicans who control the House, Democrats who control the Senate, and President Barack Obama come to an agreement, the student loan interest rate will double to 6.8 percent.
Wasserman Schultz said it's time to put aside partisan politics. She also said the problem is the Republicans' fault. For their part, Republicans lay the blame squarely at the feet of President Barack Obama.
Both sides say they want to continue the 3.4 percent interest rate. Here's where the politics comes in: Democrats would pay for it by eliminating tax breaks for oil companies. Republicans would pay for it by cutting a public health and disease prevention fund set up under the Affordable Care Act.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called it "an Obamacare slush fund." Wasserman Schultz said it would fund programs to prevent cervical cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and suicide, and initiatives to reduce birth defects.
"We're not playing politics at all," said Wasserman Schultz, who is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. "Last Friday House Republicans played political games with this critical issue by passing a partisan bill that blocked the interest rate increase, but paid for it by undermining health care for all Americans."
Last week, Obama toured college campuses to sound the alarm about student loan interest rates. Boehner's spin: "Students and families are struggling in President Obama's economy. Nearly half of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, and laws like Obamacare have only made it harder for small businesses to hire them…. It's time for the president and Democrats in Congress to stop exploiting the challenges facing young Americans for political gain, and start working with Republicans to create a better environment for private-sector job growth."
It isn't a political game to Cindy Hoskin, of Davie, one of about 25 high school and college students who appeared Monday with Wasserman Schultz.
Hoskin was laid off from her construction management job in 2010. Looking to a new career, she gets her associate's degree on Friday from Broward College and plans to go on to a bachelor's degree and law school.
"That extra 3.4 percent is substantial for us. We're talking thousands of dollars per month we're going to have to pay beginning the day we graduate. We can't afford that," she said.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times