Following a Tiresome Pattern, Senate Republicans Block Student-Loan Bill

As predictably as clockwork, the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate has used a filibuster to kill yet another bill to help out regular working people. This time, it’s a bill to prevent a doubling of rates on the Stafford Loans thousands of young people rely on to help pay for college.

Sen. Jon Kyl, a member of GOP leadership, announced last night that the GOP would prevent debate on the bill. They dislike that the bill is paid for by closing a corporate tax loophole, and want to pressure the Senate’s Democratic majority into accepting the House GOP’s version of the bill, which raids a preventative health care fund to cover the cost.

It’s a typical display of their priorities: any effort to get any more revenue from corporations is unconscionable to them, so they’d prefer to make us choose between lowering the cost of college and large-scale disease prevention efforts. Cutting from the public health prevention fund is a terrible idea for a lot of reasons, primarily because it’s a cost-effective program without high-paid lobbyists to support it.

Where is the public on this? They’d strongly prefer closing corporate tax loopholes:

A new National Journal poll asked specifically about the core dispute over the student loan extension, and 50 percent support the Dem approach of paying for it with tax hikes on some businesses. Only 34 percent support the GOP approach of paying for it out of a preventive health fund that’s part of Obamacare. Independents support the Dem approach by 49-31. And young voters — the same ones Romney keeps telling us should vote for him out of their own self-interest — support the Dem plan 58-28.

Not that this matters to the Senate GOP, as the fight over provisions of the American Jobs Act amply proves. They’ve shown an unprecedented willingness to use the filibuster not just in extreme circumstances but on almost every vote. This doesn’t just set a new 60-vote standard for anything to get done; it also chews up legislative time and causes confusion and frustration among voters. The simplest, most basic acts of governance become virtually impossible. And the consequences aren’t just political—in this case, they could cost future college students thousands of dollars in debt after they graduate.

So Republican obstruction and stubbornness wins out over both good policy and good politics, and the ability of a new class of students to afford college is again put in doubt. This might be a fun game for Sen. Kyl, but for families who want to send their kids to college, it’s not a game at all.