Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Thursday dismissed House Speaker John Boehner as “a little sensitive” on the topic of student loans following Boehner’s criticism of President Obama for campaigning on the subject.
“I can understand why the Speaker’s feeling a little sensitive about it,” Van Hollen said on the progressive Ed Schultz radio show.
Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier in the day said Obama should reimburse taxpayers for this week’s trips to give speeches urging Congress to act in three election-year swing states, calling it “beneath the dignity of the White House.” Boehner claimed Obama made the trip to start “a fake fight” for campaign purposes because Congress is already working on passing legislation. A vote is set for Friday.
“They’re trying to change the subject,” Van Hollen said, claiming Obama was “gaining traction” with voters by educating Americans about the July expiration of the program, which would double the current interest rates. “Speaker Boehner’s feeling the heat from the American people, so they’re now going to conveniently try and change their position.”
House Republicans this week rushed legislation to the floor that would extend the subsidies, preventing the interest rate from doubling when the current program expires July 1.
Mitt Romney has also sided with the president’s goal of extending the program, but student loans have already become a hot topic in the presidential election with Romney and Obama battling over the youth vote.
Romney has called for the program to be extended “responsibly” in a way that offsets its cost. Boehner's proposal would pay for the student loan bill by cutting into a fund for preventive healthcare created by the 2010 reform law, something Democrats and the White House vehemently oppose.
Van Hollen said it is another example of Republicans’ so-called “war on women.”
“Here they go again on women’s health,” he said. “By raiding a fund that’s going to provide breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, we know that they’re really not serious about trying to help people. Once again they’re not talking about getting rid of the subsidies for corporate jets or oil companies.”
Van Hollen blasted the Republican budget, proposed by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), saying Obama needs to “hammer” them on it from now until Election Day because it reflects the GOP priorities.
“That’s their plan for the country and it’s a very different vision for America than what the president has and than what most of America has,” Van Hollen said.
Obama’s proposal to extend the student loans program works with his proposal to increase the tax rate on millionaires in keeping with the so-called Buffett Rule, which Republicans oppose.