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Public Statements

Student Loans

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Earlier this week, I came to the floor and asked Senate Democrats to work with us on permanent student loan reform. This is an issue ripe for bipartisan cooperation.

Both the President and Republicans want to prevent rates from going up in July, and the ideas Republicans have put forward on the issue are actually very similar to what the President has already proposed. This actually should be a slam dunk.

Instead, Senate Democrats have put forward a bill that fails the very benchmarks that the President himself set--a bill that is nothing more than a short-term political patch funded by permanent tax hikes. The bill would cost taxpayers more than $8 billion, yet only save students about $6 a month. Worse still, it is a bill Senate Democrats know will fail. In fact, they actually seem to be indicating they want it to fail.

Why would that be? Undoubtedly so they could keep this issue alive for the permanent campaign that never seems to end. Top Senate Democrats have stated themselves that they are ``not looking for compromise'' and that they are determined to show ``the difference between the two parties on a key issue,'' even when there isn't one.

Two of the most senior Democrats said those things. Those are direct quotes, so basically they are determined to force a partisan fight regardless of the costs to students. By the way they set up this morning's votes, it is pretty clear those votes are intentionally designed to fail.

So when the Senate Democrats get their wish and the bill fails this evening, I hope the President will step in to work with us on a serious permanent solution because, as I said, our ideas for reform are not all that different from his on this issue. Students should not be made to suffer just because some in this town seem to see them as rooks and pawns in a political chess match.

Look, this isn't a fight young Americans need, and they especially don't need this fight right now. Young men and women are already having a rough enough go in the Obama economy. Those who make it through college face a highly uncertain future once they get out in the real world, as their parents like to call it. They are having a real tough time finding a job.

Once ObamaCare comes online, experts predict their health care premiums are set to skyrocket. Young men in their mid-20s to mid-30s could see rate increases of 50 percent or more, depending on which study we look at.

Here is the thing: Even if premiums end up going up by just a small fraction of that amount, it is still going to create an enormous headache for the next generation. While the administration's allies promised subsidies, studies indicate those payments from taxpayers may not make up for the higher costs.

Many young folks seem to be living largely from paycheck to paycheck these days, often because they literally have no other choice. These men and women are just getting by as it is. Do we expect these Americans to be able to afford to pay even more?

Apparently Washington Democrats do. Because if young folks don't cough up money for health insurance, they are going to get hit with a penalty tax. So one way or the other, many are going to start paying more. That is just one more reason why Senate Democrats need to get serious about the student loan issue.

This summer alone more than 9 million college students will take out nearly $7,000 worth of loans and about $25,000 in total by the time they earn their degrees. That is a smart investment, but it is also a lot of money. We owe them certainty and stability and permanent reform along the lines Republicans and President Obama have called for, and those two proposals, as I said, are not that far apart and actually accomplish that result. It is time for the Democrats in Washington to put the campaigning aside and work with us to enact that kind of reform.

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