Tipton favors Big Oil over students on college loan interest rates
If anyone questions that Colorado’s 3rd District Rep. Scott Tipton has doubts about voting to allow the interest rates for student loans to double next year, they should just look at his record on the issue.
In March 2012, he voted for the GOP’s Paul Ryan budget, which allowed students’ loan interest loans rates to rise. By April, he was expressing the opposite position, asking Congress to find a way to keep the current 3.4 percent interest for another year.
As the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported, “Tipton voted against a plan to prevent an increase in student loan interest rates. On April 26, 2012, House Republicans voted against considering the Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012. The measure would keep interest rates on need-based student loans at 3.4 percent in 2013, saving borrowers an average of $1,000 in loan repayment costs. Costs for the measure would have been offset by ending tax breaks for Big Oil.”
More recently, Tipton had to choose between supporting a very unpopular tax on needy students or serving those whose money and influence were responsible for his election.
“While physicians, lawyers, ranchers, businessmen and retirees are all filling the congressman’s coffers,” ColoradoPols reported in 2012, “The one industry that is hard to ignore when reviewing Tipton’s contributors is oil and gas.”
The ColoradoPols blog continues, “Today, Representative Scott Tipton (CO-03) blocked consideration of a bill that would prevent student loan rates from doubling on July 1st for Colorado students and families.”
Tipton voted for the Republican budget that included an assumption that interest on student loans would double to 6.8 percent when a one-year extension negotiated by the president in 2012 expired this July 1. The cost to 166,693 current and future Coloado student loan holders is estimated to be more than $130 over the life of their loans. Two-thirds of them will graduate with $25,000 in student loan debt.
“Tipton would rather protect Big Oil subsidies, even if it means doubling student loan rates for 166,693 Colorado students and families,” Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee charged. “Instead of investing in America’s future and allowing students to get a fair shot at an affordable college education that helps them get a good-paying job, Tipton chose higher interest rates for students and more tax breaks for Big Oil companies making record profits.”
With economic recovery only slowly returning to the 3rd Congressional District, it seems cynical for this anti-tax Republican to impose a tax on needy students, particularly as traditional part-time jobs on campus and off are disappearing.
The Denver Post reports, “In Colorado, about 154,000 students have taken out Stafford loans, with an average debt of just under $25,000, according to the Center for American Progress, an independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.”
Without a trace of irony, Tipton told the Denver Post, “Now this Congress must work together to pick up the pieces and ensure that young Americans aren’t left hanging out to dry with unmanageable interest rates.”
When the House failed to act before the July 1 deadline, the rate on new student loans doubled to 6.8 percent. Needy students were, in Tipton’s own words, “hung out to dry.”
Saddled with loads of debt by the time they graduate, the increased interest will make loans even more difficult for students to pay down.
In his 2014 budget proposal, President Obama proposes to tie student loan rates to the 10-year Treasury bill rate. “Thus, rather than have the loan rates fixed, they would depend on the health of the market. When the market isn’t as healthy, in times like now, and rates are low, students would pay less interest on their loans.”
As Colorado families and students wrestle with the cost of higher education, they should recognize that Tipton has protected big-energy subsidies at their expense.
As ColoradoPols complained, “It’s one thing to vote twice on allowing student loan rates to double, but it’s another problem entirely to talk out of the other side of your mouth while you do it.”
It is time for some straight talk from Tipton about whom he represents in Congress before he seeks re-election in 2014.