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Dems Shoot for an Exacta With Health Reform, Student Lending Overhaul

On Tuesday, a group of moderate Senate Democrats — wary that a proposal to scrap billions of dollars of subsidies to private student lenders would cost jobs in their states – urged party leaders to consider alternatives to the student lending reforms moving their way through Congress.

Yesterday, Democratic leaders responded with a resounding, “Nah.” Instead of scrapping loan reform, leaders are moving forward with a plan to attach the lending bill to the health care legislation the Democrats hope to pass in the coming weeks. The New York Times reports:

The deal would bundle the bill into an expedited budget package along with the Democratic health care legislation, which would allow for both measures to be passed by the Senate on a simple majority vote. Without the deal, the student loan bill would have been unlikely to pass because it lacked the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

The reason it lacked the 60 votes, though, is itself informative. And here’s a hint: It’s not because lawmakers think that the current system — under which the government subsidizes private lenders to make loans to students — is the best use of taxpayer dollars. Indeed, the six Democrats expressing their concerns about the lending bill were quick to indicate that they “support reforming the federal student loan programs to generate historic budget savings.” What they haven’t suggested is how it’s possible to cut out those subsidies — estimated to save the government $67 billion over 10 years — without stripping jobs at the companies that currently make those loans.

As we wrote today, that dilemma isn’t limited to the realm of student lending. It’s a question plaguing every lawmaker who has in mind to rein in the same deficit spending that’s sustaining jobs in countless sectors of the economy.

And you thought your job was tough…

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