Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Two Democratic lawmakers Tuesday called on Mitt Romney to back up his words with action regarding his position on extending the lowered student loan interest rates.
"Young Americans and students should be very suspicious of Romney's efforts to have it both ways," Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee.
In a rare moment Monday, Romney agreed with President Barack Obama that Congress should pass a bill that would keep the federal interest rate at 3.4%. Without the extension, the rate would boost to 6.8% on July 1.
In a press conference Monday, Romney said he fully supported the measure, citing the low unemployment rate among recent college graduates.
But Van Hollen criticized Romney as being hypocritical and pointed to Romney's support of the GOP budget plan proposed last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The plan proposes cuts to the federal Pell Grant program.
Piling on, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison said on the call that Romney's decision to side with Obama on the issue was purely a political move, describing it as "politics of the moment."
Both Ellison and Van Hollen urged Romney to call Congressional leaders and insist they pass the bill.
"If he wants to support the president's plan, what he needs to do is call today for Speaker (John) Boehner and (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell to adopt the president's plan," Ellison said.
In a different conference call earlier in the day, surrogates for Romney argued the former Massachusetts governor would build a brighter future for college grads than Obama would in a second term.
"Young people who are sitting here, not better off three and a half years later will see that they didn't get the hope and change they were sold in 2008," College Republican National Committee Chairman Alex Schriver said.
Obama, meanwhile, is out on the road this week, drumming up support for the lower rate while speaking at universities in three major battleground states.
On Tuesday, Senate leaders said they will take up the bill within days. McConnell said Republicans are willing to consider the measure as long as there is a way to pay for the extension.