Call it a tale of dueling college students.
As student loan rates set to double on July 1 without action from Congress, both Democrats and Republicans have enlisted the support of student allies to rally support for their planned fixes.
Minnesota Republican John Kline, the sponsor of a House-passed bill that would tie student loan rates to 10-year Treasury notes, held a Washington press conference Tuesday with House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders. Their backdrop: About two dozen college students carrying debt.
Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, college Democrats were hosting a “Calling out John Kline” event accusing him of making college more expensive for borrowers. The event was sponsored by University of Minnesota College Democrats (U-DFL), and is part of a multi-group effort from national and state Democrats, including the House Majority PAC, a Democrat Super PAC that has launched a $50,000 advertising blitz targeting Kline.
One radio ad suggests that Kline is willing to let rates double on July 1 as scheduled, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Meanwhile the Democratic Congressional Committee encouraged its student allies to “make that simple point and tweet to Congressman Kline: #DontDoubleMyRate.”
University of Minnesota College Republican chairwoman Susan Eckstein called the Democrats’ attacks "outrageously false." Kline’s college backers say that while his bill ties student loans to market rates, it’s the Democrats who will double the rates on July 1 through inaction.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota GOP put out a statement Tuesday focusing on Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, who is up for reelection next year.
Franken and other Democrats have rallied around a plan to keep the current rates in place for another two years, while Congress looks for a long-term solution. The Senate, however, has yet to pass any legislation on the matter.
Kline noted that his bill is based on a similar plan put forward by President Obama, who has since threatened a veto of the GOP bill. “I’ve been here a little over 10 years,” Kline said. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a better opportunity to work towards a real bipartisan solution. Clearly we have ground where we can work. But what do we get? We get a threat of a veto from the president.”
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