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House passes student loan extension, Obama threatens veto

The Obama presidency has been wholly focused on securing an extension of super-low student loan rates for the past week.  A visitor from space could be forgiven for concluding it was the greatest crisis facing the United States of America.  Bags of taxpayer money were burned sending Obama on a junket to universities in swing states, so he could thunder about the horrors of “doubling the student loan rate.”  The White House set up a #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag, which of course was promptly hijacked by conservative comedians.

The political dimension of this crusade was always curious, because by and large, the GOP caucus wanted to keep the student loan rates where they are, as did presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  Taxpayers were covering the freight charges for Obama to drag a gigantic straw man to schools for show-and-tell.

Whatever the merits of holding those student loans at 3.4 percent, there’s no doubt the impulse to do so was bipartisan.  That’s why the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to extend those low student loan rates on Friday.

But Barack Obama is threatening to veto it.

Hey, man, what gives?  Don’t double my rate, dude!  Why does Obama hate students?

Always reliable for the strangest sound bite in any situation, Democrat minority leader Nancy Pelosi croaked, “What we’re saying here today is stop your assault on women.”

What’s up with that?  Well, it has to do with how the student loan extension would be paid for.  The standard Obamanomics procedure would be to hand the bill to China, which would then pay for new tanks and missiles with the interest it collects on our ever-expanding national debt. 

But that won’t work with student loans, because they were effectively nationalized by ObamaCare, as one of the many accounting tricks deployed to pretend that epic legislative disaster wouldn’t make the national debt even worse.

Student loan rates are not, strictly speaking, about to “double.”  They were cut in half by a bill written by Democrats, back when they had a veto-proof majority and full control of Congress.  This bill was set to expire in 2012, returning the affected student loans back to their normal rate, precisely so that a vast new dependency class of students could be harvested for votes in the presidential election… but also so that student loan income could be counted as revenue for ObamaCare.  All of this would affect only new student loans, not existing loans, despite the President’s desperate attempt to make existing students think he’s trying to stuff money in their pockets.

If the rates are kept low, the resulting $6 billion in lost revenue must be accounted for somehow.  Obama, who can kill jobs just by looking at them, wants to get the money with a huge tax hike on small businesses.  The Republican bill would get it by cutting ObamaCare spending… from the very same Prevention and Public Health Fund President Obama already raided last year, to get money for his payroll tax credit.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund includes money for breast and cervical cancer screenings, which brings us back to Pelosi’s “assault on women.”  Although years of feminist rhetoric portrayed women as strong and independent, it turns out they’re really helpless and childlike, incapable of survival without huge government programs.  That’s the only way to logically justify reduction in a federal program as an “assault on women.” 

Strangely, Pelosi did not use this rationale to characterize the notion of funding student loans with a small business tax as an “assault on job creators.”   For that matter, it would certainly feel like an “assault on women” to female entrepreneurs.

For the record, the conservative Heritage Foundation also does not like the Republican student loan bill, citing entirely different reasons:

Maintaining the lower, taxpayer-subsidized loan rate will also cost taxpayers $5.9 billion for a one-year extension. The “benefit” would only apply to the so-called subsidized Stafford loans, and only to new borrowers who apply for the loans this year. And for that narrow group, it will only save them about $7 a month after they graduate.

This bill proposes to pay for the $5.9 billion extension by taking funds from Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The proper approach to Obamacare is to repeal the entire law.  Congress should not use Obamacare as a “slush fund” to pay for temporary extensions.

Instead of rationally debating the best way to allocate limited resources, we’ve got a government filled with slush funds and red ink.  Cut a nickel of spending, and the air is filled with hysterical shrieks about an “assault” upon whoever was on the other end of the severed umbilical cord. 

New income streams, on the other hand, are described as mana falling gently from heaven.  Crisp new bills roll off the Treasury Department’s printing press, and fresh tax needles are slipped painlessly into the bulging veins of faceless, nameless, voiceless revenue targets.

The defining neurosis of Big Government is the way it refuses to prioritize anything, reflected by the Democrat Party’s three-years-and-counting failure to produce a budget for the monstrous government they perpetually insist is under-funded.  Irresponsible deficit spending is an aspect of that neurosis, as well.  Citizens are told to make do with less, by a ruling class that howls in rage at the merest suggestion they should give up something, to fund a more important priority. 

Yesterday, subsidized student loans were the most important issue in the universe; today, Obama will veto them to protect his health-care boondoggle.  It’s reminiscent of the way he periodically claims “job creation” is his “top priority,” even though it is easy to demonstrate, as a matter of objective fact, that at least a dozen things are higher priorities for him.  It will be awesome when the government controls even more of our lives, and we’ll be pitted against each other in the dependency arena even more frequently, while the masters of the arena pretend to root for all of us at once.

Who created the system that transforms a subsidy for student loans into an “assault on women,” Mrs. Pelosi?  Who created the raw nerve linking those entirely separate issues?  Who was marching through Washington with a silly grin on her face, and a huge gavel clutched in her hands?  Let the authors of this insane system stand up and take some responsibility for their assault on common sense.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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