MN-02 : TEA Party, Kline Win Student Loan Battle

Todd Akin (R-MO-02), a candidate for Senate said during a debate last weekend that government involvement in student loans has given the government a “stage three cancer of socialism”:

AKIN: America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in. So first, to answer your question precisely, what the Democrats get rid of the private student loans and take it all over by the government was wrong, it was a lousy bill, and that’s why I voted no. The government needs to get its nose out of the education business.

Representative Akin has previously responded a firm “NO” to the question: Should Congress continue to use the “general welfare” clause( Art. I, Sec.8 ) to regulate aspects of our lives, such as agriculture and education, that are traditionally under the authority of the private sector, state, and local government … thus one would suspect that when the House took a vote on Friday to extend student loan interest rates for undergraduate Federal Direct Stafford Loans at 3.4% for another year, that Representative Akin would vote “No”
… WRONG
… Representative Akin voted YES
… so did Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) the leader of the TEA Party Caucus and who stated if elected president she would look to get rid of the Department of Education, “Because the Constitution does not specifically enumerate nor does it give to the federal government the role and duty to superintend over education that historically has been held by the parents and by local communities and by state governments.”
… so did National Taxpayer Union recently awarded “Friends” : Edward Royce (R-CA-40), John Campbell (R-CA-48), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-03), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-03), Cliff Sterns (R-FL-06), Todd Rokita (R-IN-04), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and many more
… so did Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH-04)
Thus, a lot of Representatives that would normally have said NO to spending said YES …. Why ? ? ?

Well, to win War on Government Spending, what may appear to be a lost battle is actually a tactical victory.

These Republican Representenatives were not responding to citizen’s concerns and embracing a program that targets to low and middle-income families … it was instead the “offset” … the chance to change the rules of spending … to eliminate the The Prevention and Public Health Fund.
The Fund was created by the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) to invest in proven state and local programs to promote wellness, prevent disease, and protect against public health emergencies. The law mandates funding as it is the first and only federal program with dedicated, ongoing resources specifically designed to improve the public’s health, and in turn, to make the United States a healthier nation. The Fund has already been reduced to $1 billion in FY13.
The Fund is administered by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Chairman John Kline (R-MN-02) of the Education and Workforce Committee gleefully informed his colleagues that HHS Secretary Admits: Eliminating ObamaCare Slush Fund Won’t End Preventative Care.

What Chairman Kline doesn’t promote is that the majority in the committees are voting to cut the money for discretionary funding … thus by eliminating the mandated spending, it leaves Preventative Care to be a discretionary item.

While the headline was “House Republicans Extended Low Student Loans” it should have been “House Incorporates Planks of Ryan Budget”.

Remember, the House gave the go-ahead to its subcommittees tasked with making spending decisions to begin their work by officially setting, or “deeming,” the overall federal funding level at $1.028 trillion, $27 billion below the Budget Control Act (BCA) cap for non-defense annual funding agreed to last year. The deeming resolution passed on a party-line vote of 228 to 184.

The Ryan Budget allowed the Stafford Loan program rates to return to the 6.8% rate and targeted a number of programs for reductions including from the Affordable Care Act

Repeal the Prevention Public Health Fund, rescinding unobligated funds;

Repeal unlimited State Exchange Grants, rescinding unobligated funds (~$14 billion over ten years); and

Defund the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program, rescinding unobligated funds (~$700 million).

Interestingly, the Ryan Budget Resolution also targeted other spending categories … such as $33.2 billion in Department of Agriculture cuts (remember the TEA Party types oppose the Federal Government being involved in Ag as well as Ed). The cuts could come from a range of Farm Bill programs and Federal agriculture accounts including direct farm payments and Federal crop insurance subsidies; however the House Agriculture Committee approved a bill that would cut more than $33 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps).
Also, the Department of Defense is destined to receive an increase in funding … something that no doubt will delight wannabe-Senator Todd (of the Boeing-earmark fame) Akin.

So, the House has approved a One Year extension for Stafford Loans by eliminating the Mandatory Prevention and Public Health Fund … so what happens next year … well, it would be cuts to discretionary funding. For example, various Centers for Disease Control programs could be cut — birth defects, developmental disabilities, nutrition, physical activity and obesity activities, viral hepatitis screening, CDC health care statistics and surveillance, and, lastly, prevention and research center.
Consider how these programs are already being targeted …
In FY 2012, the CDC birth defects program was $138 million. Today, the House is considering an appropriation in the $125 million range.

But in this War on Government Spending, the House Republicans have made a choice … a choice to masquerade as Champions For Student Loans when they really just found ways to Cut funding for healthcare programs and food stamps (while protecting farm subsidies and military production).

Chairman Kline also fails to acknowledge Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius other statements

“We can educate our kids and invest in healthcare at the same time. Failing to invest in long-term strategies that would lower our healthcare costs will doom future generations to pay higher and higher health bills and get mediocre results.”
Sebelius called the fund a “long overdue investment” in “significant efforts to keep our country healthy and well.” What we know is that is an investment that returns about $10 for every $1 invested,” she said during a question-and-answer session with the House Education and Workforce Committee. “Right now, America spends 80 cents of every health dollar on dealing with chronic disease and illness and about 8 cents of every health dollar on any kind of preventive effort.”

Thus, consider that 4,000 women die every year from cervical cancer.
Isn’t it worth trying to prevent cervical cancer rather than simply expending monies treating it in its later stages?

November will a referendum on the TEA Party philosophy … that’s the record that John Kline, Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann, and all the other warriors represent.

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