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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/22/15

Republicans Are Sinking the Hopes of an Entire Generation

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Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren
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Last year, I introduced a bill that would allow people getting crushed with student loan debt to refinance their loans down to today's lower interest rates.

More than 700,000 people signed petitions in support of the plan. Every Democrat, every Independent, and three Republicans voted to move the bill forward. But the rest of the Republicans filibustered the bill, so it didn't pass.

Since last year, nearly a million more borrowers have fallen behind on their payments. Altogether, students are now struggling with $100 billion MORE debt than they were a year ago.

Student loan debt was an economic emergency last year -- and now that emergency is getting worse. That's why I'm reintroducing the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. Join me in telling the Senate Republicans: Student loan refinancing can't wait another year.

Our proposal is simple: Refinance outstanding student loans down to 3.9% for undergraduates, and a little higher for graduates and PLUS loans. This single change would give borrowers across the country a chance to save hundreds -- and for some, thousands -- of dollars a year.

That's real money that these borrowers could put toward paying down the balance on their debt, saving for a home, buying a car, starting a small business -- money they can put toward building a solid future.

We should have done this a year ago, but Republicans said no. They refused to even debate the bill. They said there were other, better ways to tackle student debt -- but then the Republicans did nothing -- nothing except filibuster the only student loans bill on the table.

I don't kid myself: Refinancing loans won't fix everything that's wrong in our higher education system. We need to cut the price of college, to reinvest in public universities, to shore up federal financial aid, to crack down on for-profit colleges, and to provide better protections on student loans.

But let's start with the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. Let's start by cutting back on the interest payments that are sinking young people and holding back this economy. Tell the GOP: Let's start with Bank on Students.

The Republicans can't just close their eyes and pretend this isn't happening. By refusing to act, they are sinking the hopes of an entire generation.

It's time for Congress to step up and fix this problem, before it drags down another million Americans, and another, and another. It's time to refinance student loan debt.

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Elizabeth Warren was assistant to the president and a special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She single-handedly set us this bureau, putting in place the building blocks for an agency that will (more...)

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