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Ellison: GOP’s Student Loan Bill Pits Health Care Against Education

The Minnesota congressman opposes using preventive health money to keep student loan rates low.

Rep. Keith Ellison slammed House Republicans’ decision to use the preventive health fund to keep student loan costs from doubling.

Stafford loan interest rates were scheduled to grow from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Both parties want to keep loans at the current rate. But Republicans want to pay for the $6 billion proposal through cuts, while Democrats want to pay for it with new revenue.

In a Friday news release Ellison argued that one essential service shouldn’t be cut to fund another.

The American people should never have to choose between their health and their education. Today House Republicans told women they can’t have preventive breast and cervical exams, and told children they can’t have regular check-ups or immunizations, if we are going to have fair student loan rates. … I cannot support a policy that sets one group of working Americans against another while wealthy individuals and corporations continue to reap the best this country has to offer. We can keep college within reach of middle-class Americans without sacrificing fairness.

The Associated Press noted that Democrats previously voted to take money out of the preventive health fund to keep Medicare reimbursements from dropping, while President Barack Obama’s February budget proposed cutting the fund to support some of his initiatives.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Wants Action on Foreclosures

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes Ellison, hosted a hearing Thursday about ongoing efforts to prevent foreclosures. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, co-chair of Obama’s Residential Mortgage Backed Securities Working Group, spoke about lessons learned from the mortgage crisis. Caucus members, in turn, urged the working group to act swiftly.

“Four years after the crisis first hit foreclosures continue to devastate millions of families in my state of Minnesota and across the country,” a news release quoted Ellison. “While the banks got bailed out American families continue to get kicked out of their homes. The CPC will continue to pursue action until homeowners get the justice they need.”

Ellison Explains Push to Overturn Citizens United

Ellison is part of a new coalition called United for the People that brings together activists and federal, state and local lawmakers to push for a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United ruling, which opened up independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.

In an interview with The Root, Ellison explained why the movement is getting off the ground now.

People with money can populate Congress with people who are favorable to them through campaign donations, through independent expenditures. Once they get the people they want there, they can pay to lobby Congress to make sure that the people they put there do what they want them to do. And where are the American people's voices in all of that? They're lost.

Ron Paul Supporters Worry Establishment Leaders

Last week saw another Minnesota Republican complain that the party is “overrun by Ron Paul Libertarians,” as 5th District GOP candidate Lynne Torgerson when the party opted to endorse Chris Fields instead of her. This time, the complaint came in a Tuesday Star Tribune editorial by Joe Repya, Republican activist and former candidate for party chair.

Repya said Paul supporters stealthily seized most of the delegate spots to the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer and will back Paul, not Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee. If Romney does wind up winning the GOP nod, Paul supporters say they won’t support him unless he picks Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ron Paul's son, as his vice presidential running mate.

Repya worries the schism between Paul supporters and establishment Republicans will cost the party in both state and national elections.

The DFL smells blood in the water and sees an opportunity to regain both legislative chambers. We are very possibly witnessing the death of MNGOP as we know it. If so, it will have died from within, not from outside causes.

Fields brushed aside Repya’s worries in a Facebook post:

Our ideas are alive and well. In fact people on all sides of the political equation are being attracted to those ideas every day. More people believe today that one size fits all government doesn't fit anyone at all. … We have never needed a party headquarters to tell us what to think or what positions to take. In the end MNGOP will be strong because history has proven you cannot kill an idea.

Caitlin Burgess April 30, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Whaaa? No one has anything to say about the new "Libertarian" comments? It was such a hot topic on here a couple weeks ago.
David F May 02, 2012 at 05:25 PM
This article unfortunately punctuates the lack of real support for education in the US. Yes, we are all for education at election time but when it times come to vote and make hard choices politicians bury their heads in the sand and forget about the importance of education. Ironically as President Obama stood in Afghanistan last night he was flanked by US Army soldiers who during and after military service are offered a variety of educational opportunities.

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