Obama pushes Congress on student loans

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Obama urged students to lobby lawmakers to improve a House bill that, the White House contends, does not go far enough. He said it "fails to lock in low rates for students next year" and "eliminates safeguards for low-income families."
"The House bill isn't smart, and it's not fair," Obama said. "So I'm asking young people … to make their voices heard once again."
This is the second year in a row that Obama has sought to negotiate an extension of the lower rates on student loans. Last year, during the presidential campaign, Congress and the White House engaged in political brinksmanship before agreeing just days before the deadline to freeze the interest rate at 3.4 percent for one year.
The rates will rise automatically to 6.8 percent, affecting about 7 million borrowers, unless Congress passes legislation to extend the lower rates by July 1.
Separately, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Friday that it will launch ads in six college newspapers to target House Republicans on the issue. The targeted Republicans were identified as Reps. John Kline (Minn.), Gary G. Miller (Calif.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Steve Southerland II (Fla.), Rodney Davis (Ill.) and Joseph J. Heck (Nev.).
White House officials said the proposal in the president's fiscal 2014 budget would freeze the low rates and allow incoming college freshmen who borrow $27,000 over four years to save an average of $4,000 over the life of the loans.
According to the White House, the House plan would require the students to pay $200 more than if the rates rise to 6.8 percent.
"While we welcome that House Republicans have paid some attention to this issue this year, their proposal, unfortunately, does not meet the test," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
As part of his reelection campaign, Obama highlighted the rising costs of higher education, appealing to young voters in appearances in swing states across the country.
Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said this week that the president's student-loan push was a a public relations gambit that "reeks of desperation."
Buck said House Republicans have approved a plan to keep rates lower. He said the White House is using the Rose Garden event to "change the subject from its growing list of scandals." That was a reference to the administration's handling of the terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya; the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups for increased scrutiny of their tax-exempt status; and the Justice Department's secret seizure of reporters' phone records in leak investigations.
"Picking a fight out of thin air where there's policy agreement isn't going to get the White House out of trouble," Buck said, "and it certainly doesn't do anything to help students facing a looming rate hike."
In his speech Friday, Obama said: "We cannot price the middle class . . . out of a college education. We can't keep saddling young people with more and more debt just as they're starting out in life."

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Obama pushes Congress on student loans