Just when the bruises from a tough primary were beginning to heal, and some conservatives were starting to give Mitt Romney a second look in the aftermath of yesterday’s five-state primary sweep, comes word the moderate former Massachusetts Governor has the same policy as President Obama does on federally subsidized student loan interest rates.
House Republicans have said the estimated $6 billion annual cost of extending low-interest rates for student loans isn’t affordable without offsetting cuts, but that they are still deciding whether to support a temporary extension. Obama has started pushing Congress for the extension and planned a three-state tour this week to warn students of the potential financial catastrophe they will face if Congress fails to act.
Apparently Romney’s strategy for the fall campaign will be, “if you can’t out bid Obama, at least join him.”
Romney’s announcement that he supports an extension of the cheap interest rate on federal student loans pulls the rug out from under conservatives in the House who have been trying with little success to reduce spending and balance the budget – even if it takes 30 years via the Ryan Plan.
We have a bit of sympathy for young people who were sold a bill of goods by an education industry that convinced them there is actually a job market for degrees in folklore and performance art and who are now stuck with student loans that run to six figures.
However, Romney’s attempt to out-Obama Obama on student loans is a perfect illustration of how Greece got where it is, and why we are headed in the same direction.
In Greece, until the meltdown, practically everybody got a subsidy or a paycheck for something from the government. The politics were such that the trend was ever upward – once the subsidies started they could never be reduced or even slowed due to political pressure.
We have the same problem here in the U.S. and at some point soon some principled patriots will have to make the case to their fellow Americans that it has to stop. Having offsetting cuts doesn’t end or slow the student loan subsidy, but at least it doesn’t allow it to increase our ruinous deficit and debt.
No doubt Romney and his establishment Republican advisors think of this as “moving to the center” for the fall election. We call it stiffing the conservatives in Congress and pandering on the road to fiscal perdition – as well as a perfect illustration of why conservatives should remain deeply skeptical of the Romney candidacy.