House Republicans are moving forward on their plan to keep student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent by taking funds from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, effectively emptying it. Nancy Pelosi accurately sums up Republican priorities on this one:
For House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the emphasis was the GOP’s cuts in the preventive health program, whose initiatives she said include breast cancer screening and children’s immunizations. She contrasted that with a Democratic bill extending the low student rates by cutting subsidies to oil and natural gas companies, which is opposed by the GOP.
Pelosi characterized the Republican view as, “‘We prefer tax subsidies for big oil rather than the health of America’s women.’”
If you drop the false balance of a traditional media that reports both lies and truth as simply partisan statements, that’s what we’re dealing with here. Republicans will allow funding for a range of preventive care that will, in the long term, save the health care system money or they will allow students to pay low interest rates. But it’s students vs. patients. Republicans will not allow rich people and oil companies into these equations—they’re sacrosanct while everyone else exists to be cut.
This vote is a political ploy for Republicans to be able to say “we voted to lower student loan interest rates, but Democrats weren’t on board,” but House Democrats are sticking with the push for a better bill, one that pays for student loans by taxing businesses that aren’t paying their fair share:
House Democrats are being instructed to vote en masse against the Republican plan, because they note that the health fund, formally called the Prevention and Public Health Fund, provides money to city and state governments to help prevent obesity, the spread of HIV/AIDS, to reduce tobacco use, train public health workers and modernize vaccines.
Interest rates don’t rise until July 1, so there’s time after this vote for Democrats to continue making the case that this should be paid for by closing a business tax loophole and for Republicans to continue making the case that it should be paid for by cutting HIV/AIDS prevention and breast cancer screening.