I know it’s hard to believe, but things have actually managed to get worse in Congress.
As you probably know, interest rates on Stafford loans, a widely used type of college loan, are scheduled to double on July 1 if nothing is done. President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney favor keeping the current 3.4% rate. As I noted a few days ago, Speaker Boehner used a Twitter post to dishonestly try to blame the Democrats for the increase, his excuse being that the widely supported, bipartisan bill that lowered the rate to start with was passed by a Congress in which Democrats held the majority.
Now House Republicans, taking political heat for opposition to keeping the rate in place, have decided to play a political game. On Friday they passed a bill that prevents the rate from doubling, but in order to get Democrats to vote against it, the bill also eliminates completely unrelated programs for preventing congenital heart defects and fetal alcohol syndrome, and it cuts funding for breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings and childhood immunizations, which would affect–literally, no exaggeration–hundreds of thousands of women and tens of thousands of children. The blatant political cynicism of this is hard to believe.
To be clear, I’m sure plenty of decent Republicans are every bit as appalled by this as I am, but unfortunately the House Republicans have been largely taken over by extremists who in many cases probably don’t even realize what they’re doing and in other cases, unfortunately, simply don’t care.