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Rep. Ryan touts GOP student loan plan, hits Obama's 'short-sighted' approach

05/21/2012

The Hill - May 19, 2012 - by Alicia M. Cohn

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Budget Committee, defended House Republicans' approach to student loan rates in message for new graduates.

In an op-ed published Saturday by the Wisconsin State Journal, Ryan wrote about the problems facing this year's crop of new college graduates. He wrote that even after almost four years under President Obama, new graduates face the same kind of problems that graduates faced in 2008, including high debt and low employment prospects.

"Over half of recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed," he wrote. "That's unacceptable."

Ryan wrote about how the House-passed budget plan, which was originally proposed by Ryan, would tackle the biggest obstacles hampering job growth for new graduates, including the tax code, tuition inflation and student loan debt.

"We need a fiscal and higher-education strategy that spurs economic growth, tackles tuition inflation, and gets spending and debt under control," he wrote. "The House-passed budget accomplishes all three."

The op-ed is a chance for Ryan to reach out for the same audience that Obama has addressed in recent campaign-style speeches, directly criticizing Ryan's budget plan. Obama, speaking at a variety of campuses around the country, is looking for support from college students who are concerned about student loans — Obama is pushing Congress to prevent the current interest rates for federal loans from expiring in July — and employment rates.

Ryan defended his budget in the op-ed while also attacking the president's plan.

"[W]e focus aid on low-income students who need help most," he wrote. "Furthermore, we propose to remove regulatory barriers that restrict competition, flexibility and innovation in higher education. By contrast, the president's approach has proven woefully short-sighted. Instead of addressing the structural causes of tuition inflation, his policies have simply chased ever-higher college costs with ever-higher subsidies, encouraging students to go deeper into personal debt while adding billions more to the national debt."

The current interest rate on Stafford student loans will double in July from 3.4 to 6.8 if Congress does not pass an extension.