The Senate today voted on competing bills to extend the current student loan interest rate. U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) voted in favor of an economically responsible extension of the rate and opposed the Senate Majority's attempt to raise taxes to pay for an extension.
Both bills failed to reach the 60-plus threshold necessary to pass.
"Everyone in this chamber wants to prevent an interest rate increase for incoming students. However, students shouldn't have to mortgage their futures for lower rates. Yet that is exactly what the Majority has asked them to do by raising taxes on the small businesses that we need to create jobs," Boozman said. "This is the wrong approach. It will only make it harder for graduates to enter the work force as yet another tax increase will continue to slow job growth. A college diploma can only get you so far if there are no jobs after graduation."
Boozman voted in support of a bill that would have frozen the student loan interest rate increase at 3.5 percent for one year and paid for it by taking money from an unused account created by the President's health care law. Similar legislation that uses the same "pay-for" passed the House last month.
"While giving Arkansas's students access to the very best education possible at an affordable rate, we must also work to ensure that there is a healthy job market waiting for them after graduation. That is why I support a proposal that pays for the interest rate freeze by taking money from an unused Obamacare account, instead of raising taxes to pay for it. It is likely this money will never be spent, so let's use it for a reason we all support--protecting student loans," Boozman said.
Boozman said that raising taxes to pay for the extension is counterproductive as it will further slow our economic recovery.
"By helping millions of Americans earn a college degree, the student loan program should be a gateway to the workforce, not a barrier. Any extension of the low rate loans paid for by tax increases is simply that--a barrier because tax increases stifle job creation," Boozman said. "Let's fix the problem without making our economic situation worse and get our graduates working again."
During a speech on the Senate floor earlier this month, Boozman said the sluggish economy has hit young Americans especially hard.
"We have the lowest employment-to-population ratio for young adults since 1948. Over half of Americans under 25 who hold a bachelor's degree are unemployed or underemployed. Nearly 25 million adults live at home with their parents, not out of choice, but because they can't find work or earn enough to survive on their own. Any way you cut it, college graduates ready to chase the American dream have a huge roadblock awaiting them in this economy," Boozman said during the speech.