Rep. Tony Payton, PA Dems Hold Obama Campaign Call on Student Loans
The Obama Campaign held a conference call today with Philadelphia State Rep. Tony Payton and Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord over student loan rates, which are scheduled to increase in July.
“If Congress fails to act by July 1st, the interest rates on those loans for those 7 million students is set to double—meaning 7 million students will pay in addition, on average, $1 thousand in costs in the lifetime of their loan,” said McCord.
He noted that Pennsylvania has an “unusually high” number of student loans, at roughly $29 thousand each.
The Republicans in Congress blocked a vote on a bill that’d extend the current rates of student loans. In addition, Rep. Paul Ryan’s budgetary plan would let the current rates expire. The president and Democratic Party have been using student loan rates as a wedge issue in recent weeks. Republicans have introduced their own bill to keep student loan rates low, though it would pay for the plan by cutting money from a health care initiative meant for preventative care.
National polls are increasingly showing Mitt Romney creeping up on Obama in the race for president, and, in some conservative polls, leading. (Rasmussen has Romney up by 5 points.) Those on today’s call repeatedly referred to Ryan’s budget plan as the “Romney-Ryan Budget.”
With unemployment rates still high, more young people are going back to school or staying in school.
“This increase in an already dangerously high cost is unacceptable,” McCord went on, noting “Mitt Romney’s Republican Party” voted against the rate-saving measure today.
“While Governor Romney sort of mentioned on a passing visit in Pennsylvania that he supports keeping interest rates low,” he said, “he hasn’t introduced any specific measure to do so, and we now see some really flawed approaches that are going to fail.”
Rep. Payton got on the call afterwards.
“The only way that I was able to go to school and continue to go to school was to take loans out and…the president has made dramatic strides for the country in terms of college affordability,” he said, referring to the president’s changes to the student loan process.
“He’s removed the big banks out of the student loan business,” continued Payton. “They’re no longer the middle man which has been great for a lot of us he doubled the investment in Pell grants…he also created the American opportunity tax credit.”
Payton, who will not be running for his seat in November because he missed the signature deadline for the April 24 primary, has supported Obama on a number of the campaign’s conference calls. Oddly, though, he accidentally called Romney “President Romney” at one point during today’s conversation.
Romney “has made it harder for middle class families from Massachusetts during his time as governor,” Payton said. “He made record cuts to higher education as governor. He allowed the public university costs to almost double—almost double. I mean, that’s significant.”