Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
MARCH 11, 2010 7:15PM

Senate Close to Attaching Student Loan Bill and HCR

Rate: 10 Flag

Well, just when you think Democrats are a risk-averse bunch of, ah, goldfish, they do something I admire:

The chairmen of the Senate and House education committees said on Thursday that they would fight to attach President Obama’s proposed overhaul of student lending programs to the budget reconciliation package, which will include final revisions to the Democrats’ sweeping health care legislation.

But defenders of the private student loan industry in the Senate are intent on keeping the student loan initiative out of the health care legislation, and some Democrats are also worried that including the education measure could hinder efforts to pass the health care bill.

You can replace the text I bolded with these names: Senators Thomas Carper (D-Delaware), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mark Warner and Jim Webb (both D-Va.), and the G.O.P. (by which I mean the Republican party and Senator Ben Nelson, nominally a Democrat from Nebraska). These six Democrats and many of their cross-aisle brethren are staunchly opposed to the president's proposed fix to the student loan system. The fix would essentially eliminate an expensive middle man, by making the government responsible for directly lending to students instead of paying banks to make the loans. Obama has proposed using the money the government will save to offer more Pell grants to low-income students.

Why oppose this? How can you even oppose this? Well, you can oppose this if there are banks in your home-state that are currently making a profit off of taking the government's money, loaning it to students, and then selling those exact same loans back to the government. These banks employee people, and these people vote. If you then consider it easier to screw the low-income students in your state than to tell the high-income bankers they'd best look for new jobs, you oppose student loan reform legislation.

This opposition has made it impossible for Obama to get 60 votes on the bill in the Senate. Sounds familiar, right? So Senate Democrats -- and I do applaud them for this -- have decided to pair Educating America with Making America Healthy, into one bit Making America Better package to pass through reconciliation. Majority votes can make health care and a more efficient student aid process a reality.

Why does this impress me? Because this is a big gamble. You pass these two things together, and that's excellent, fantastic progress. You fail to pass these two things -- and it's a much bigger setback than simply failing to get one or the other through the process.

The beauty of this attachment, though, and one that I sincerely hope to see played out in the elections, is that every person who votes against reconciliation can be accused of a two-sided attack on the most vulnerable members of our society: hard-working Americans who want nothing more than to pursue the American dream without drowning in school debt or hospital bills.

I'd lay 10:1 odds that the Dems won't be courageous enough to stick that knife into their GOP friends next fall, but that doesn't mean my memory won't be so long. Hi, Ben Nelson. Yes, I see you there. And I will see you again in 2012.

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saturn, I love your take on this situation. I hope you're right and they go for the twofer. the lack of courage on the part of democrats can be discouraging, but this would give me hope.

Whoa there! What?! Contemporary government doing something FOR the little guy?!? April 1 is still a few weeks aways...
Congress is going thru the same sorting out process it went thru in '68 with the revolt of the Dixiecrats. As a result, things are likely to get even more partisan -- I know that doesn't sound possible, but it is. Over the last three decades, Rs have culled all moderates from their midst, and I expect the so-called "moderate" Ds will be the next to go, either down to defeat -- as may well be the case with Bart Stupak -- or by switching parties. Hard to see where they're will be place for them long term in the RP, especially if they remain "moderates".
I don't know how people continue to vote against their interests, I like to think they just don't know. It's important to ensure those names and their votes (or threats of votes even) are associated and public. Thanks for doing just that!
Ha! Sorry for the surprise, Kevin. (Also: is anyone else not getting comment notifications at the moment?)
An interesting take on this, Saturn. Most of what I've read about it takes the opposite view - that it endangers passage of the health care bill. I like your take better and HOPE to he-double-toothpicks you're right and they RAM this thing through the not-so-loyal-or-in-good-faith opposition.

Tom's comment is also very interesting and worthy of its own post and longer discussion. I need to think awhile whether I would even call Stupak, Conrad, Lincoln and their ilk "moderate" Democrats. The sands are shifting all over as to what each party stands for and for which "causes" the hyper-partisans and so-called moderates will choose to die on their sword. It will be a fascinating study to see how it all shakes out over the next 2-6 years.
I totally agree, LPS -- Tom's comment (hi Tom) deserves a fuller post. Lincoln is particularly difficult in my mind right now, as I think she demonstrates that in some areas, a Democrat is anyone who has the slightest concern for maintaining public services/entitlements. Which, of course, makes me wonder what an Arkansas Republican looks like.
Even in Bankruptcy you can't get out of paying a student loan. Those sharks have been at it with these same senators for many, many years.

I am thrilled to see a Making America Better bill. Reconciliation works for things as important as these.
Thanks for the nod, I meant to say '48, obviously, but '68 was pretty much the same racist reactionary movement -- just as it is when you unwrap the flags from the Baggers today. I've been working on a post about all this, but it's turning out way too long for this venue.
I've been keeping up with this and keeping my fingers crossed. Whenever I hear someone (some of them people who should know better) say Obama has failed to deliver any change, I wonder if they know what's going on. I'm hoping. Give them strength...the bunch of chickens! Who the hell voted for Ben Nelson...he even looks constipated.
I hope you are right as you often are.
My only hope at this point is that, if I die, I don't have to pay them back...
It is in these times that the rogues have to show themselves shamelessly as the corporate shills they are.
ABC News’ Mary Bruce Reports: House Democrats plan to attach reform of the federal student loan system to the health care overhaul legislation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said today. Folding student loan legislation into the reconciliation bill for health care reform “fixes” could allow the Obama administration to pass two of their top domestic priorities with a simple Senate majority vote.
car loan
a new vote system is good for our democracy i think