Local Dems running hard with student-loan issue

Democrats are running hard with the student-loan issue, including some efforts here in the Bay Area.

The interest rate on need-based student loans will double to 6.8 percent July 1 unless a law is passed. Both sides of the aisle appear to favor freezing the interest rate, yet each side is using the question of how to pay for it against the other as a political issue.

The House last week passed Republicans’ HR 4628 to maintain the rate at 3.4 percent for another year, paid for by eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act health care reform law. Democrats say the GOP has set up a false dilemma by cutting flu vaccines, cancer and heart disease screenings and other services for children and families.

The White House has threatened a veto, but the bill isn’t expected to get past the Democrat-controlled Senate, anyway. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has introduced S.2343 to pay for freezing the interest rate by making it harder for owners of so-called S corporations to avoid paying Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on some of their earnings.

The Senate might consider Reid’s bill Monday, so politicians are hitting the streets and phones to drum up support.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will be joined by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Mills College President Alecia DeCoudreaux, Holy Names University President William Hynes, and Cal State East Bay President Leroy Morishita for a news conference tomorrow morning at Cal’s Haas Pavilion.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, will address this and other issues during a conference call tomorrow with reporters.

And Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, will attend a rally Thursday morning at San Jose State University with local students who’ll discuss how the interest-rate increase would affect them. An estimated 7.4 million students nationwide, including more than 570,000 in California, would pay an average of $1,000 more over the life of their loans.

UPDATE @ 4:25 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, was banging the drum today at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, while Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, did so at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Rick K.

    Will Congressman “Live Shot” Garamendi also share his opinion on this issue? UC students pay higher tuition because the nepotism/cronyism that link California’s political elites and the UC administration. “Live Shot”‘s son, John Garamendi, Jr., was given a cushy $209,000 a year job at UC Merced. See for yourself at: http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/uc/2009. Money like that goes a long, long way in the San Joaquin Valley. Garamendi, Jr. was 30-something then. Was it a mere coincidence that a politician’s son was named to the No. 3 post on a UC campus? Garamendi, Sr. was president of the UC Merced Foundation from 1999-2009. See: http://www.votesmart.org/candidate/biography/29664/john-garamendi It’s very likely that Garamendi, Sr. used his position with the foundation to install Garamendi, Jr. in that $209,000 a year job — more-qualified, less-connected candidates for the lucrative job likely were pushed aside. UC Davis students, staff and faculty need to question Congressman Garamendi about this apparent act of nepotism/cronyism. Davis students are paying higher tuition and Davis staff members are losing pay and jobs because the UC administration is top-heavy with children of politicians with names like Garamendi. Why should “Live Shot” Garamendi be rewarded with another term in Congress when the Garamendi family puts its own personal profiteering above the interests of common folk like UC students? Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?

  • This shouldn’t be surprising.


    #7: United Auto Workers (UAW), who, despite their name, also organizes student employees on California campuses
    #19: University of California


    #2: University of California
    #9: Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
    #11: Milberg, Weiss et al
    #15: Stanford Univeristy

    Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy has various ties to the University of California and the Regents of the Univeristy of Calfiornia.

    Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP has served as legal council for the University of California.


    #17: Stanford University
    #18: Marcus & Millichamp Real Estate Investment Services

    The “Marcus” in “Marcus & Millichamp” is George M. Marcus, a major contributor to California Democrats and until March of this year, was a Regent for the University of California.

  • JohnW

    I think the story was about student loans, not about “Liveshot.” Nice segue though. The crux of the problem is neither interest rates nor tuition per se. Taxpayers used to pay nearly 100% of the cost of providing an education in the UC and Cal State systems. The taxpayer share paid by the state is now down to about 10%. Other states weren’t quite as generous as California, but a similar trend has occurred throughout the country. So, while the underlying cost of providing a college education has exceeded the rate of inflation, for various reasons, a major factor has been the shift in cost-sharing burden from taxpayer to student. Had the taxpayer share remained steady, we wouldn’t be arguing about student loans or whether the cost of obtaining a college education today is worth it from the student’s perspective. However, maintaining the former taxpayer share would be prohibitive.