Representative Daines Votes to Increase College Debt, Economic Uncertainty

Representative Daines wants those attending college to pay more for their loans. Today he voted for the poorly-named Smarter Solutions for Students Act, which would allow those same sensible market forces that brought us the housing crisis to dramatically increase the amount of student loan debt faced by students attending college. Carmel Martin, executive vice-president for policy at the Center for American Progress, notes that the bill asks college students to pay down the deficit:

The decision by the House of Representatives to approve Rep. Kline’s proposal is a step in the wrong direction for students and the economy. Rep. Kline’s bill taxes students to pay down the deficit. Congress should act to stop rates from doubling and build in protections for students to help them manage their debt. The House measure would divert $3.7 billion from the program to deficit reduction and result in an increase in student debt of close to $4 billion over what borrowers would pay under current law.

Democrats in the Senate prefer a proposal that would extend the current interest rates at 3.4% and pay for the cost by closing tax loopholes.

Nobel prizing winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that keeping college interest rates for students low is not only the right thing to do for middle class families, but critical for long-term economic growth:

But saddling students with payments they can’t make — or limiting their ability to attend college at all — means the U.S. could fall behind foreign competitors. “There is a real risk that this will impede long-term economic growth,” Stiglitz says.

Students in the lower middle class are having the hardest time affording college, Stiglitz says. “They don’t qualify for Pell Grants, and their parents really have no way to pay tuition at most schools.”

Keeping college affordable for middle and working class families should be a priority for Congress as the economy works itself out of the recession. Increasing the debt burden on college students is another short-sighted policy demonstrating how far out of touch Steve Daines is with the real needs of Montanans.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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