Today, thanks to Congressional inaction, federal student loan rates doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%. The Democratic Congressional campaign has put up a web ad seeking to tie Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) to the increase.
The video, posted on the DCCC’s YouTube page and available below, contends that, “Today student loan rates doubled because Mike Fitzpatrick and the Republican Congress are too dysfunctional to act.”
The spot includes several college students who will be negatively affected by the rise in the student loan rates. Based on the playbook used by both parties’ campaign committees, it’s likely the DCCC is spending a tiny sum on the ad.
At the end of the ad, viewers are told to “Stop the Congress of chaos. Tell Mike Fitzpatrick & Speaker Boehner to solve the problem and #dontdoublemyrate.”
But the blame for the increase is not clear cut. Recently in the Senate Democrats split into two factions over the issue, preventing the party from taking a clear stance. The liberal group supports a complete renewal. The moderate group, lead by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), supports a plan similar to that of Republicans – including Fitzpatrick – and President Obama.
Rate increases will only affect future loans and not to loans already out the door to current students or graduates.
In a statement from Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee she laid out the case for why Fitzpatrick is to blame.
“College students already have to worry about finding a job in this economy, but now thanks to Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, they also have to worry about paying more in student loan interest rates,” Bittner said. “Congressman Fitzpatrick should be ashamed that middle class families are paying the price for his dysfunction.”
Ian Prior of the NRCC defended Fitzpatrick, noting that House Republicans voted to pass a compromise bill similar to proposals from Obama.
“Mike Fitzpatrick voted to stop student loan rates from doubling when he cast his vote for the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, a bipartisan bill based on President Obama’s own proposal,” Prior said. “In fact, it is House and Senate Democrats that have opted to allow those rates to double so that they could play politics with the futures of college and graduate school students. Maybe if the DCCC did its homework it would have noticed that 3 Democratic members of its own ‘Frontline’ program also voted with Congressman Fitzpatrick to stop the rates from doubling.”
Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.