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House Republicans Take Student Loans Hostage in Their War Against Women
A habit is a routine of conduct that is repeated regularly and often occurs subconsciously, and it is similar to a behavior pattern that is a recurrent way of acting by an individual or group toward a particular object or in certain situations. Because habits tend to occur and develop over a long period of time, they can be excused and treated as an illness in most circumstances, but when bad behavior is repeated under selective circumstances to cause distress, they cannot be excused because they are deliberate attempts to inflict harm on a group or individual. Republicans have developed a selective pattern of behavior that depends on who is in the White House and it is inexcusable under any circumstance because one group or another always suffers and it appears to be the GOP’s goal.
Today the House is expected to vote to keep interest rates on Stafford student loans at the current level to prevent millions of loans’ interest from doubling to 6.8% this summer and the big question is how to pay for the $5.9 billion cost of keeping the rates low for one year. Since there is a Democrat in the White House, Republicans have insisted that any government expense be offset with cuts to social safety nets or programs that benefit Americans who are not wealthy even though during the Bush administration Republicans spent wontedly without paying as a matter of course.
To pay for keeping the interest rates at 3.4%, Senate Democrats propose increasing Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on high-income owners of private corporations, and House Democrats would eliminate federal subsidies to oil and gas companies that are making record profits every quarter. Increasing payroll tax on high-income Americans is long overdue because the wealthy should have been paying the same rate as any other American worker, but if imposing equal rates for one year helps keep student loan interest low, then something is better than nothing. The Democrat’s proposal narrows the tax shelter that allows many privately held corporation’s owners who earn at least $250,000 annually to avoid paying Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on large parts of their incomes.
It is not shocking that Republicans oppose either of the Democrat’s plans because their established behavior of not increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans under any circumstances is only matched by their allegiance to the oil industry and rejecting any attempts to eliminate subsidies regardless of record profits or high prices at the pumps.
The Republicans are willing keep interest rates at the current level for one year, but only if they can pay for it by targeting women’s healthcare spending for breast cancer screening, childhood immunizations, research, prevention, and wellness education. The House GOP bill cuts $17 billion from the prevention portion of the public health fund that Speaker John Boehner labeled a “slush fund” that Congress already raided earlier to prevent reduced Medicare reimbursements for doctors. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “It may be a slush fund for him, but it’s survival for women, that just goes to show you what a luxury he thinks it is to have good health for women.” It is not that Boehner thinks it is a luxury for women to have good health, because the GOP has been solid in opposing women’s health since they took control of the House in 2011 as part of their sustained war on women. The bigger issue is that the Republicans are willing to punish women to protect the wealthy and big oil from losing their entitlements and it is a recurring pattern of behavior that defines the Republican Party.
For the past year-and-a-half Republicans have resisted raising taxes on the wealthy to help pay for disaster relief, payroll tax deductions, jobs programs, or to reduce the nation’s deficit, but they have had no problems slashing spending on social safety nets. Republicans claim that they are being fiscally responsible by cutting programs to pay for other programs or to reduce the deficit, but they have rejected any proposal that affects the wealthiest Americans who can afford a tiny tax increase or the oil industry that does not need billions of taxpayer dollars because they reap higher profits every quarter. Insisting that any spending be offset by cuts to programs that assist the majority of the population is not a habit because Republicans implemented the practice when President Obama took office. During the Bush administration, Republicans passed enormous tax cuts, a costly Medicare prescription program, started two wars, and raised the debt ceiling several times without due regard for the deficit or making cuts to other programs.
Although cutting women’s health care is offensive on myriad levels, it is part of the ongoing war on women that Republicans began in 2011 and will continue until they are voted out of office. Regardless of the Republican’s method of paying for lower student loan interest rates, someone is going to pay and it will not be big oil or the wealthy. There are approximately 7.4 million low and middle-income students with subsidized loans, and instead of eliminating oil subsidies or making the wealthy pay the same payroll tax rate as all working Americans, it is the Republican practice to punish tens-of-millions of American women by restricting preventative healthcare. Republicans are practicing their new favorite tactic of holding some group hostage to protect the wealthy, and since they are losing the war on women, they are holding 7.4 million students hostage to inflict the most damage on women who coincidentally outnumber men enrolled in college. Republicans only reasonable choice is raising payroll taxes for the rich and eliminating big oil’s subsidies, because the alternative is causing more damage to women whether they need healthcare or affordable student loans, and as they hurt women, they are hurting themselves because women are not in the habit of forgetting or forgiving bad behavior and they will remember it was Republicans who assaulted them. After suffering through a year-and-a-half of Republicans’ bad behavior toward them, women have a lot to remember in November.