THE OFFICIAL TRUTH SQUAD -- (House of Representatives - January 17, 2007)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia, and I want to thank the gentleman from Tennessee who previously spoke. He was in the State House when I was in the State Senate there, and he has been such a leader on the issue of government accountability and government reform and openness. And the comments he made are so very, very true. And he truly does have a sense of disappointment with the way the Democrat majority has chosen to circumvent the rules process, circumvent the committee process, not record the vote and go under a shield of darkness rather than having sunlight and exposure in recorded votes. And he represents his constituents so very well, and I am delighted that he has joined us in this body. And I thank the gentleman from Georgia for his diligence in the Truth Squad and in continuing to bring truth to the floor and to talk about the issues that are before us. He is talking about the student loan bill that came before us today, and I tell you what. Listening to some of this today, I think the gentleman would agree with me, you had to wonder every once in a while what you were listening to and where they were getting this information, saying that it was going to save approximately $4,400 over the life of every loan, talking about how it was going to make college more accessible. And it was such a head scratcher because it doesn't do anything for students who are trying to get into college. It doesn't do something for the here and now. It is for the later on, after people have graduated from college.
And you know, another thing that I found to be so very interesting was the way there was no talk about things that the Republican majority had taken action on, conservative ideas, things that we had heard repeatedly from our constituents that they wanted to see happen. And I would like to highlight just a few of the steps that were taken by the Republican majority. You can go back to 1996.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. And the gentleman is correct in that. This is for ones who have graduated and then you are earning an income and then you start to pay a loan back.
Now, the Republican philosophy, the conservative philosophy on this is, let's get more people into the classroom. Let's help people afford that. Let's allow deductions for families so that they have the opportunity to work hand in glove with their children to make a better education possible. You can go back to 1996 when the section 529 plans came in. Save for college. You, the wage earner, the taxpayer, the mom, the dad, take the responsibility for this and tackle it as a family. That is part of the American dream, working together to realize that dream.
And Mr. Speaker, I tell you what. That is something that is proactive. That is something that gives the power to the individual, not taking it away and saying hey, we are going to cloister it away in Washington, D.C. and you want to go to college, come talk to us. We don't believe in that.
Then you can look at the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, two tax credits in that. HOPE Scholarship, Lifetime Learning, reinstatement of the above-the-line deduction for interest on student loans, an exclusion for earnings accruing to education IRAs. They were later changed to be the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. There again, not giving power to the government and control to the education process over the government, but giving it to moms and dads and families and students so that they can make those.
Well, we can look at the Deficit Reduction Act in 2005. The Smart Grants of up to $4,000 annually for students majoring in math, science, engineering or a foreign language critical to this great Nation's security. Smart Grants. It effectively doubled the Pell Grant for many students. It increased subsidized student loan borrowing caps for freshmen and sophomores, there again, steps that give you, the individual, the power and the control.
We can look at current student aid. We have seen such an increase in student aid over the past decade. To see the amounts that those have increased is just amazing. Our higher ed funding in total has increased.
To the gentleman from Georgia, you know, as we have stood here today and listened to all the myths, and listened to the information that is erroneous, it has been very disappointing. I would just like to commend to our constituents who are watching tonight that they may want to go to the Education and Labor site, our ranking member, BUCK MCKEON's site, and look at some of the information there that the republicans.edlabor.house.gov have on there, what is the truth with the legislation that we have passed today, so that they can have a better understanding of it.
I had talked with a constituent who had thought that they were going to see enormous savings from this. They had misunderstood the rhetoric that they were hearing on the floor today and thought that they were going to be saving about $4,400 a year, not $4,400 over the life of a loan, which is incorrect, but that it would be even less than that, and for the average student it is more like $400.
So the gentleman is correct in the assessment that he is making. I appreciate that he is breaking down the interest rate chart so that our constituents do have clarity on the situation that is before us.
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