Just a few weeks ago, we asked CREDO Action members to engage on the explosive issue of student loans. The response has been amazing with activists taking more than 319,000 actions to stop Congressional Republicans from doubling the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans.
Thanks in part to your activism the issue has become a hot topic in our national political conversation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke up on behalf of students on the Senate floor recently1, and he has now scheduled a crucial vote in the Senate for tomorrow on the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012, legislation which prevents the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans from doubling this summer.2 In advance of tomorrow's vote, we need to make sure Sen. Kirk know that his constituents expect him to vote for the interests of students and recent graduates who rely on federal student loans.
Now is the time to put on a full court press. Call Sen. Kirk's office and ask him to put aside partisanship and vote in support of the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act. We believe Sen. Kirk should heed calls to keep the interest rate at their current low level since he voted with the Democrats for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act in 2007, which reduced the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans incrementally over four academic years, from 6.8 percent at the time to the current 3.4 percent. Sen. Kirk needs to keep supporting our students and their families.
The Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act covers the cost of extending the low interest rates for one more year by eliminating a tax loophole that would prevent wealthy Americans making over $200,000 per year to avoid paying their fair share of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.3 For example, in 2010, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich legally exploited this S corporation loophole to avoid paying $69,000 in Medicare taxes, while reporting $444,327 of his earnings as wages from Gingrich Holdings and Gingrich Productions and classifying another $2.4 million as profits or dividends.4
In contrast, House Republicans are promoting a legislation that covers the cost of extending the low interest rates by eliminating basic health care prevention programs. President Barack Obama has already issued a veto threat against the extreme proposal of the House Republican Leadership.5 With the Republican bill dead on arrival, supporting the Democratic Legislation in the Senate should be a common sense, no-brainer, non-partisan action in favor of Illinois's students for Sen. Kirk.
Your calls will matter as your effort to date has turned the burden of student loans into one of the hottest topics this political season. Let's make sure that Sen. Kirk get the message that he cannot sell out Illinois's students by embracing the extreme right wing agenda of the House Republican leadership.
Thank you for taking action to make sure that all students can afford a higher education — including those from Illinois's working class families.