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A bill that would keep student loan rates from doubling on July 1st died in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon after Senate Republicans successfully closed off debate and prevented the passage of a law that 52 members of the Senate were on the record supporting.

The vote came on a day when President Barack Obama issued a “to-do list” for Congress, but Senate Republicans ignored his concerns and continued their record-setting pattern of obstruction, taking advantage of Senate rules that prevent voting on a bill unless the the Democratic majority is able to reach 60 votes.

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained that his caucus objected to the $6 billion bill because it would raise revenue by increasing the payroll taxes of high-earning stockholders of public corporations. He dismissed the bill as “campaign material” that was introduced as a “a way to drive a wedge between Republicans and a constituency that they’re looking to court ahead of November’s elections.”

The GOP alternative would raise money to pay for the bill by repealing elements of President Obama’s healthcare plan. This proposal has drawn a veto threat from the White House.

As it stands now, 7.4 million students use the Stafford Subsidized loan program to borrowing an average of more than $4,200 a year. If Congress can’t reach a solution, their interest rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

Photo by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

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