The excuses have started. Once again, the Republicans blocked a vote on our student loans bill – and now that they are about to head home to face voters, they are pouring out the excuses.
Excuse #1: Some Republicans say that the benefit of letting people refinance their student loans is too small. Too small? Tell that to young people with 8%, 10%, even 12% interest rates (and higher on some of the private loans). They could save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars on their excessive student loan payments each year.
But if the Republicans really think the benefit of the bill is too small, I'll call their bluff. I'm all for finding ways to give our students an even bigger break.
Excuse #2: Some Republicans say that the $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt just isn't a big deal – that we should be focused on the rising costs of college instead. Yes, the rising cost of college is a terrible problem – and we need to stop it – but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything for the millions of people who already went to school and are being crushed by debt.
But if the Republicans really want to do more, I'll call their bluff. Let's work together to do even more to help our students. I'm ready.
Excuse #3: Some Republicans don't like that the bill is paid for by closing the tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires and making them pay their fair share.
But if the Republicans' only problem with the bill is how it's paid for, I'll call their bluff. If they have ideas on other ways to pay for it, we're eager to listen.
Excuse #4: Some Republicans – including Mitch McConnell – went so far as to say that Democrats don't really want this bill to pass. Really? That's just plain ridiculous. Only in Washington can you vote against something, and then when it doesn't pass, blame the people who voted for it.
Excuses. Excuses. But they don't fool anyone. They don't fool each of you who signed our petitions, made phone calls, posted on Facebook and tweeted asking for a vote.
This isn't complicated. It's a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?
This fight isn't over. Millions of Americans are getting crushed in student loan debt, while the rich and powerful hang on tight to their tax loopholes. When the choice is between billionaires and students, I know which side I'm on, and I'm going to keep hitting back.