The Phony Campaign

2012-06-03 Update

[phony baloney]

Not much action in the Phony Campaign numbers this week:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 23,200,000 +100,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 1,070,000 0
"Gary Johnson" phony 367,000 +30,000

This US News story is an example of a perfect bipartisan storm of phoniness, reporting on efforts to deal with student loan interest rates. It had House Speaker Boehner reportedly using the p-word:

Thursday, Boehner reportedly told his GOP colleagues that the student loan debate was phony and then hours later sent a letter to the White House outlining two new ways to maintain Stafford loan interest rates at 3.4 percent.
The White House, in the person of (I swear I am not making up this name) Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, took phony umbrage at the Speaker's words:
"The President certainly believes the prospect of increasing -- of doubling the interest rate on middle-class students and their families is not a phony issue," Earnest said. " We're talking about adding $1,000 to the debt load of the average college student if we see these interest rates double a month from today. That's not phony. I understand that the Speaker of the House may have actually used even more colorful words to describe this issue, which is unfortunate. Hopefully, the Speaker, in the form of that letter, was indicating a genuine willingness to work with the President to solve this problem."
Pretty obviously a case where (a) one side desperately wants a populist issue to campaign on, while (b) the other side just as desperately wants to deny them said issue.

George F'n Will does his usual fine job of detailing the immense corrupt dreadfulness of the student loan program. Read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:

In 2006, Democrats, trying to capture control of Congress by pandering to students and their parents, proposed cutting in half the statutory 6.8 percent rate on some federal student loans. Holding Congress in 2007, and with no discernible resistance from the compassionately conservative Bush administration, Democrats disguised the full-decade cost of this -- $60 billion -- by pretending the subsidy, which now costs $6 billion a year, would expire in five years.

The five years are up July 1 and of course the 3.4 percent rate will be extended. Barack Obama supports this. So does Mitt Romney, while campaigning against a "government-centered society." What would we do without bipartisanship?

The low 6.8 percent rate -- private loans for students cost about 12 percent -- was itself the result of a federal subsidy. And students have no collateral that can be repossessed in case they default, which 23 percent of those receiving the loans in question do. The maximum loan for third- and fourth-year students is $5,500 a year. The payment difference between 3.4 percent and 6.8 percent is less than $10 a month, so the "problem" involves less than 30 cents a day.

Good luck finding a politician—Republican or Democrat—willing to talk equally honestly, especially between now and November.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:54 PM EDT