Pay-go’s a pain

In yet another election-year display of blatant presidential pandering, President Obama launched a nationwide college tour to erroneously claim that House Republicans were doubling student loan rates.

Federally subsidized Stafford loan rates will double on July 1 of this year, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, if Congress fails to act. It’s unlikely the president is ignorant of the fact that Democrats and Republicans have been working on the issue so that it is remedied before the deadline. Instead, he chose to lie about what congressional Republicans intend.

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Republicans will fix the law put into place by Democrats that triggers the increase in the rate, and will adhere to the pay-as-you-go (pay-go) rules dictating that when Congress causes an increase in expenditures in one area, it must find the budget offset in another area to pay for it, rather than simply passing the cost on to future budgets and generations.

President Obama is finding out that sometimes, pay-go’s a pain.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has brilliantly identified the pay-go offset to keep the Stafford student loan rates from doubling. In 2010, Democrats diverted $9 billion in college financial aid funding to pay for an ObamaCare slush fund, which in itself makes it harder for businesses to hire recent college graduates looking for work — a double whammy on college students. After ObamaCare passed with no Republican votes and was signed into law by President Obama, Americans voted in a GOP House majority in large part due to opposition to the law. Now the GOP-led House is taking back those Prevention and Public Health Fund monies in ObamaCare and using that as the offset to keep student loan rates from doubling. Democrats can’t cry foul, as this fund was used to pay for the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which averted cuts to Medicare physician payments and extended the payroll tax.

In 2007, the Democrat-controlled House dusted off the pay-as-you-go standing rule from the 1990 budget resolution that was in place from 1991 to 2002, and in 2010, President Obama signed the pay-go rule into law after too many waivers were flying around Washington. The president now finds himself having trouble curbing his expensive federal spending habits. Luckily, Republicans have a few ideas.

To add to President Obama’s troubles surrounding his mismanagement of the nation’s finances, the Republican National Committee is requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the taxpayer-funded trips the president is taking that are blatant campaign events. It was the most recent trip to college campuses in key battleground states, North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado, where President Obama incorrectly stated the GOP was going to let the federally funded Stafford student loan rates double that set off calls for scrutiny.

It has not gone unnoticed that after three years of us suffering under the Obama economy, record-high gas prices and record-high unemployment, the Obamas have been living high on the hog, spending our tax dollars on expensive vacations and even taking separate airplanes so that the first lady could go in advance and get in some extra beach time, rather than waiting for the president. The only taxpayer-funded vacations that appear to rival the Obama trips were those of the General Services Administration that are under investigation for misuse of federal funds.

Former Rep. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.), who ran the family Corning business before serving in Congress, used to say that he’d like to see people in Congress who had first done something with their lives before running for office — be a teacher, doctor, nurse, work in a company, raise a family, build something, sell something, start a business, meet a payroll — so they would know where taxes come from before being in a position to decide where tax dollars will be spent. Wise words, indeed. 

It would appear President Obama has little care where those tax dollars come from, or how hard his fellow Americans work to earn those dollars they send to Washington. Boehner should be applauded for his use of pay-go to expose the ObamaCare campaign slush fund. Similarly, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus calling the Obama White House out on feigning “official business” for what is clearly campaign activity is a positive move. While both moves will be derided as “purely politics” by Democrats, both also happen to be good politics.

Cheri Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has worked on Capitol Hill, the RNC, and has managed congressional campaigns.