News Column

DSCC: On Student Loans, Republican Tom Cotton Stands With Special Interests & Against Arkansas College Students

June 12, 2014



WASHINGTON, June 12 -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued the following news release:

Today Tom Cotton continued to support the Koch Brothers agenda by voting to block (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll298.xml) efforts to help Arkansas college graduates with the crushing weight of student loan debt, reminding Arkansans yet again that he sides with Washington special interests and against Arkansas' college students and middle class families.

Cotton's vote blocking an effort to make college more affordable for working families by closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires and using the savings to allow anyone with pre-existing student loans to refinance their loans at lower rates hurts his state. In Arkansas alone, 209,000 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/student_debt_report_final.pdf) borrowers could benefit from refinancing their student loans at a lower rates.

Last year, Cotton admitted (http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2013/07/31/tom-cotton-opposes-bipartisan-bill-to-prevent-student-loan-interest-increase) he took government loans to pay for Harvard (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/tom-cotton-student-loans_n_3692026.html), but voted against (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll426.xml) a bipartisan deal to provide Arkansas students with low interest college loans because apparently he believes that he's the only one in Arkansas that deserved help with paying for school. Cotton also supports eliminating federal student loans entirely and turning student loans over to Wall Street.

"Tom Cotton's reckless allegiance to Washington special interests comes with a high price tag for Arkansas college students and families who are struggling to pay off student loan debt," said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Instead of fighting to make college more affordable for Arkansans, Tom Cotton would allow millionaires and billionaires to enjoy their tax breaks. Arkansas students and families deserve leaders who will fight for them in Washington, not reckless partisans like Tom Cotton who values Washington special interests over what's best for his state."

BACKGROUND:

COTTON SUPPORTED ELIMINATING FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

Cotton Wanted Federal Government To Have No Involvement In Student Loans. "Cotton voted against a similar bill last month saying he wants the federal government to get out of the student loan business and leave the job to the private sector." [Southwest Times Record, 8/2/13 (http://cotton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cotton-statement-on-student-loan-vote)]

BUT COTTON USED PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LOANS TO FINANCE HIS HARVARD EDUCATION

Cotton Used A Combination Of Scholarships And Loans, Both Private And Stafford, To Finance His Harvard Education. At the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities Meeting, Cotton said: "First, I want to say though, access to affordable and quality education is not really a political issue. It's something that all Arkansans and really all Americans support. Higher education certainly provided me with a lot of opportunities that I might not have otherwise had, as Rex mentioned. I knew that wouldn't be easy. My family saved for many years and worked during school to pay my loans. Like many other students, I also used a combination of scholarships and loans, both private and Stafford." [Independent Colleges and Universities Meeting, 11/1/13] (video)

Cotton Used Federal Stafford Loans To Finance His Ivy League Education. In a statement, Tom Cotton said, "My family saved for years and I worked throughout school to pay my way; like many students, it also took a combination of private and Stafford loans. Following law school, I postponed joining the Army for two years so I could repay all my loans." [Press Release, Office of Rep. Cotton, 8/1/13]

COTTON WAS THE ONLY MEMBER OF THE ARKANSAS DELEGATION WHO VOTED AGAINST LOWER-COST STUDENT LOANS

Cotton Was One Of Only 31 House Members--The Only Arkansan--To Vote Against Bipartisan Plan To Reduce Student Loan Interest Rates. In July 2013, Cotton was the only member of the Arkansas congressional delegation to vote against Kline, R-Minn., motion to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill that would set federal student loan interest rates issued after July 1, 2013 to the Treasury Department's 10-year borrowing rate, plus 2.05 percent for subsidized and unsubsidized undergraduate loans, 3.6 percent for graduate loans and 4.6 percent for PLUS loans. The loan rates would be capped at 8.25 percent, 9.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively. It would require the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress within four months detailing the federal government's cost of administering the student loan program and recommendations to avoid generating additional revenue from the program. The motion was agreed to 392-31: R 221-6; D 171-25; I 0-0. [HR 1911, Vote 426 (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll426.xml), 7/31/13]

COTTON OPPOSED STUDENT LOAN REFORM, SAYING IT CAUSED TUITION TO RISE

Cotton Blamed Rising Tuition Prices On Student Loan Reform. In October 2012, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported: "Cotton said rising tuition prices are a result of 'the failed policies of Barack Obama's administration.' He pointed to a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which made the federal government the only lender of federally backed student loans. 'What that does is take all student loans and put it in the hands of the federal government,' he said. 'This is the way a government program always works, more efficiently than the private sector, right? Not really. If banks can give loans for cars or for home mortgages they can do so for student loans as well,' he said." [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/7/12]

Cotton: If Banks Provided Student Loans, Colleges And Universities Would Keep Tuition Down. In October 2012, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported: "Cotton said if banks could provide student loans again it would put pressure on colleges and universities to keep tuition costs down and compete." [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/7/12]

Cotton Argued That Pryor Spending 25 Years In Office Led Him To Nationalize The Student Loan Industry, Which He Claimed Raised Costs For Students. "Well, this is a good example where different perspective can lead to different results for the American people. Mark Pryor spent 25 years in office. That probably led him to vote for Obamacare, which cut hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare. It also nationalized the student loan industry which means higher student loan costs for all students. (03:00) That's why I think it's good to have different kinds of perspectives in Congress, not just people who spend a lifetime in politics." [Fox and Friends, 3/6/14] (video)

Cotton Argued That When Politicians Played Around With Interest Rates, They Created A Bubble. "Yeah, I mean I took student loans, a mix of public and private. But, when you have Washington politicians and bureaucrats playing around with interest rates what you're going to do is create a bubble and that's what has happened." [Cotton Campaign Headquarters Open House, 1/13/14] (video)

Cotton: If Banks Provided Student Loans, Colleges And Universities Would Keep Tuition Down. In October 2012, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported: "Cotton said if banks could provide student loans again it would put pressure on colleges and universities to keep tuition costs down and compete." [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/7/12]

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