WASHINGTON — President Obama seems to have missed in his latest attempt to harpoon Republicans after spending days barnstorming battleground states campaigning against a hike in student loan interest rates.
The House of Representatives, led by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), passed a bill that accomplishes just that, defying Obama's threat to veto the legislation, according to an Associated Press article.
Ironically, it was Democrats, led by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who passed the automatic student loan increase five years ago. Now, the President must either veto the Republican bill as he indicated he would or watch it die a slow election-year death in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
Obama and the Democrats agree with Republicans that students’ interest rates should not rise, however Democrats want to pay for the $6 billion cost with tax hikes while Republicans want to pay for the entitlement with spending cuts from Obama’s controversial Affordable Healthcare Act.
Democrats are left to convince voters that spending cuts aimed at the massive, 2700-page healthcare partisan entitlement program referred to as Obamacare are part of a Republican war against women, a Democratic Party campaign theme that Republicans hotly contest.
The Democrat-controlled Senate has refused to pass a budget for three years and plans to wait until after the coming elections to propose one.
The Republicans appear to have scored a political victory by passing the bill while defying Obama and standing firm against government spending. National polls have long indicated that the American people consider cutting deficit spending a top priority.
The U.S. government is $16 trillion in debt, including approximately $6 trillion that was added to the deficit during the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget in three years and not one House Democrat voted for President Obama’s budget earlier this year.
Recently, President Obama has been roundly criticized by Republicans and others for spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars campaigning in key battleground states against the rise in government-backed student loan interest rates. Republicans urged the president to come back to Washington and work with them to craft a bipartisan bill.
While both parties are vying for the youth vote, Republicans have effectively slammed the political tennis ball back to Obama and the Democrats.
National polls show that lowering student loan rates is not a top priority; however President Obama picked the fight during his relentless taxpayer-funded campaign and now he must decide whether he wants to veto the Republican bill that continues low-interest loans for students and let student loan rates double, or start talking to Republicans.
Democrats claim Republicans only staged Friday's vote to remove it as an issue on which they would be vulnerable.
"They're just looking for a way to cover their rear ends," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Waxman was part of the Democrat-controlled House that voted to increase student loan rates to begin with.
"People want to politicize this because it is an election year. But my God, do we have to fight about everything?" said Boehner.