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Washington Post Editorial Board Challenges Obama Administration to Stop Denying Opportunity Scholarships to Poor D.C. Kids
Posted by Press Office on May 23, 2012

The Washington Post editorial board weighed in this morning on the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to block full implementation of the highly-successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) and deny new students access to the program.  Titled D.C. children left in the lurch,” the editorial cites the importance of the program to underprivileged children in the District of Columbia:

“The nonprofit that administers the District’s program of federally funded school vouchers held two open houses to solicit interest from low-income families for the upcoming school year. The response was overwhelming; nearly 1,200 new applications were received. Most applicants are likely to end up disappointed because of a misguided decision by the Obama administration to effectively deny new students access to the successful program. …

“Now is the time that families are making decisions about schools for the fall. Unless Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan are intent on denying hundreds of underprivileged D.C. students the chance for a quality education, they should work with Mr. Boehner to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of this important program.”

As we stated in this post yesterday, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last week to press him on fully implementing the law, known as the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act.  That meeting followed a letter they sent to President Obama in March pressing him and the administration to expedite implementation of the program and provide program access to new students.  Yet today the Obama Administration continues to deny access to a lasting, quality education to hundreds of underprivileged children in the District of Columbia.  They deserve better.

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Obama Administration Still Denying Poor D.C. Kids the Chance at Good Education
Posted by Press Office on May 22, 2012

More than a year after President Obama signed into law legislation renewing and expanding the highly-successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), his administration continues to block full implementation of the law and deny new students access to the program.

Last week, Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to press him on fully implementing the law, known as theScholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act.  This follows the letter they sent to President Obama in March pressing him and the administration to expedite implementation of the program.  The president inexplicably chose to zero out funding for the program in his budget proposal, contradicting the very law he signed.  Based on the president’s budget, the Department of Education has said it intends to cap enrollment in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which also contradicts the law.  The Speaker and Senator Lieberman made clear that the SOAR Act does not impose a cap on enrollment and a robust evaluation is mandated by the law.  They also told Duncan they would push to ensure full funding for the three-sector approach to education reform reauthorized in the law that provides equal funding for school improvement for D.C. public schools, public charter schools, and the scholarship program.

What are the consequences if the Obama Administration continues to defy the law?  Hundreds of underprivileged students in the District of Columbia will be denied access to a lasting, quality education through a program that has an excellent track record of success.  For eight years the scholarship program has empowered low-income parents to choose the best learning environment for their children, giving them an opportunity to receive a quality education while the District of Columbia takes steps to reform its public schools.  

The Obama Administration says it supports education reform … when will it begin to support real education reform for low-income families and students in the District of Columbia?

NOTE: For a high-resolution photo of the meeting, visit Speaker Boehner’s Flickr page.

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Senate Dems Under Pressure to Fix Student Loan Problem They Created
Posted by Press Office on May 09, 2012
Yesterday, the Democratic-controlled Senate failed to move forward on a small business tax hike bill masquerading as a student loan fix, proving that Democrats are more focused on political posturing than offering a plan that can actually pass.  The House has done its work by passing a bipartisan bill to freeze student loan rates, fully paid for by cutting a wasteful ObamaCare slush fund that Democrats have already supported cutting.   As several news reports noted yesterday, the pressure is now on Senate Democrats to find a bipartisan solution that can pass, or shoulder the blame when student loan rates double on July 1st:

  • “But the Democratic line of attack has been complicated by the House’s actions. Shrugging off a veto threat, the House passed an extension of the subsidized rate last month, paid for with the preventive health care fund. Thirteen Democrats voted for the bill…Those Democratic defections put the House bill over the top and fortified Republican arguments that the Senate Democrats were now to blame for the stalemate.” (The New York Times, 5/8/12)

  • “The failure leaves the Senate with an unclear path going forward on keeping the interest rates from doubling. … The House late last month approved legislation that would keep the interest rate stable, though Obama has threatened to veto that measure.” (The Hill, 5/8/12)

  • The Republican-controlled House already has passed a one-year loan rate extension, which it paid for by slashing a preventive health fund established in the Democrats’ health care law. The 215-195 vote saw 13 Democrats vote in favor…” (The Washington Times, 5/8/12)

Democrats created the student loan problem back in 2007 by passing legislation through both Democratic-controlled Houses of Congress that triggered a rate hike this year.  Now, they are manufacturing an election-year fight where there isn’t one, and their excuses for opposing the House-passed, bipartisan solution are wearing thin. 

As Politico notes, “Congress already dipped into” the ObamaCare slush fund earlier this year, and the president himself has called for further reductions in his 2013 budget.  Several recent fact check pieces have debunked Democrats’ arguments against tapping the rest of the ObamaCare slush fund, which has been used for everything from pet neutering to park signs

Speaking on the House floor earlier this month, Congressman Boehner noted that half of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed as a result of President Obama’s failed economic policies.  As new graduates face the “grueling” task of finding work in the Obama economy, Senate Democrats owe them more than tired excuses and transparent political games.  If Senate Democrats won’t offer a responsible plan to stop student loan rates from doubling that can pass, they should move forward on the bipartisan, House-passed bill and fix the mess they created. 

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Two Fact Checks Debunk Dems’ Opposition to Student Loan Bill
Posted by Press Office on May 03, 2012
Two fact checks out this morning from the Washington Post fact checker and FactCheck.org debunk the “war on women” rhetoric used by Democrats and the White House to oppose the House-passed student loan bill. Here are a couple of key excerpts:

  • FACTCHECK.ORG:” Republicans are right: The White House is greatly exaggerating when it says that ‘women, in particular,’ benefit from a prevention fund that the House GOP proposes to repeal. The truth is that the fund in question wasn’t set up specifically for women’s health programs, and we could find no concrete evidence that it has paid anything to gender-specific health programs so far.” (White House Spins Women’s Health,FactCheck.org, 5/2/12)

  • WASHINGTON POST: “From Pelosi’s statement, one could imagine a wholesale ‘assault’ to strip funding for women’s health programs. But in fact, there are virtually no specific programs aimed at women currently in the fund. In the future, the administration hopes to add such programs, but that is not the reality today, as evidenced by the fact the administration never raised this concern last year when the GOP-led House also voted to kill the preventive health care fund.” (A GOP ‘assault’ on women’s health?Washington Post, 5/3/12)

The House-passed bill stops student loan interest rates from doubling by cutting a slush fund the president himself proposed cutting from ObamaCare – a law that’s making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers, including recent college graduates.

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Will Dems Vote to Double Student Loan Rates & Protect ObamaCare Slush Fund?
Posted by Press Office on April 26, 2012
Are Democrats really going to let student loan rates go up because they want to protect a health care reform slush fund?” (POLITICO, 4/26/12)

That question will be put to the test tomorrow when the House votes on legislation extending the current interest rates on student loans for one year, taking action to address an issue everyone agrees must be addressed in the middle of a struggling economy.  This problem has come about because, back in 2007, a Democratic-controlled Congress put in place a law that would double student loan interest rates this year.  

Introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), the Interest Rate Reduction Act (H.R. 4628will be paid for by taking money from a slush fund in President Obama’s health care law – a law that is making it harder for American small businesses to hire new workers and recent college graduates.  In a statement introducing the measure, Rep. Biggert pointed to the challenges young Americans are facing in President Obama’s economy:

“Our sons and daughters are moving back home after college, and Washington’s tax-and-spend policies have only made it harder to find work.  According to a recent AP report, at least half of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed. … My bill eliminates an unnecessary expense in the President’s health care law, extends lower rates for college loans, and provides financial security for today’s students without raising taxes on their potential employers.”

There is bipartisan agreement on fixing this problem.  The House’s quick and responsible action has put President Obama on the defensive over campaign-style theatrics charged to hardworking taxpayers and designed to pick a fight that doesn’t exist.  As Congressman Boehner noted yesterday, Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol have long agreed this is a problem that must be addressed.   “What Washington shouldn’t be doing is exploiting the challenges that young Americans face for political gain,” Boehner said.  

There is bipartisan agreement on cutting this ObamaCare slush fund.  Just as there is bipartisan agreement on fixing this problem, there is also a history of bipartisan support for cutting this ObamaCare slush fund, a.k.a. the ‘Prevention and Public Health Fund.’  The president has already signed bipartisan legislation that takes money from this slush fund, and his budget for the coming fiscal year also calls for cutting it.  Last spring, the House passed H.R. 1217 with bipartisan support to repeal the fund altogether. 

Built on a bipartisan foundation, the Interest Rate Reduction Act shows that we can come together to fix this problem and continue focusing on the challenges Americans young and old are facing in President Obama’s economy – without any need for taxpayer-funded, campaign-style drama.

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SCHOOLED: POTUS Faces Tough Pitch to College Students Struggling with Higher Costs & Fewer Jobs in the Obama Economy
Posted by Press Office on April 24, 2012
President Obama launched a three-state tour today aimed at “recapturing” the support of young Americans “who have grown skeptical of his administration.”  The president’s task is a “daunting” one, as the college students he is speaking to this week have been hit hard by his failed policies that have made the economy worse.  Here’s a snapshot of the headwinds young college students are facing in the Obama economy: 

  • 53.6%: Unemployed or Underemployed Bachelor’s Degree Holders. “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years.” (The Associated Press, 4/23/12)

  • 25.1%: Increase in College Tuition & Fees at Public Four-Year Institutions Over the Past Three Years. Published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions averaged $8,244 in 2011-12, $7,613 in 2010-11, $7,050 in 2009-2010 and $6,591 in 2008-2009. (The College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing”)

  • 13.2%: Unemployment Rate Amongst 20-24 Year Olds. “According to the March jobs report, the unemployment rate for those between the ages 20-24 is a sky-high 13.2 percent, versus the national rate of 8.2 percent.” (The Chicago Tribune4/18/12)

  • 85%: New College Graduates Moving Back in with Their Parents. “Thanks to a high unemployment rate for new grads, many of those with diplomas fresh off the press are making a return to Mom and Dad’s place. In fact, according to a poll conducted by consulting firm Twentysomething Inc., some 85% of graduates will soon remember what Mom’s cooking tastes like.” (Time, 5/10/11) 

  • 10%: Decrease in Starting Salary of College Graduates Today vs. 2006 & 2007. “The median starting salary of students graduating in 2009 and 2010 was 10% lower than the salary received by those who entered the workforce in 2006 and 2007. College educated women continue to earn less than college educated men.” (John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, “Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy,” 5/18/11)

President Obama has added more than $5 trillion in red ink to the nation’s balance sheet with the promise that his ‘stimulus’ spending spree would keep the unemployment rate below eight percent and help get the economy back on track.  Young Americans are paying the price for the ‘stimulus’ failure as they embark on frustrating - and all-too-often fruitless - job searches, and will continue to do so with higher taxes, fewer jobs and less economic growth down the road. 

As Congressman Boehner said last week: President Obama “has spent the last six months campaigning from one end of the country to the other, instead of working with members of both political parties here in Washington to address the serious challenges that our country faces.”  College students, families struggling with high gas and grocery prices, and small businesses barely keeping afloat cannot afford for the president to keep shrinking from his responsibility to address the major challenges facing the nation.  Republicans will continue to lead where the president had failed with the Plan for America’s Job Creators & House-passed Path to Prosperity budget.  It is up to President Obama and Senate Democrats to support Republican efforts, or offer a serious plan of their own.   

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With Student Loan Mess, Democrats Reaping What They Sowed
Posted by Press Office on April 24, 2012
In 2007, the Democratic majority in Congress enacted legislation to double interest rates on new federal student loans from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent in 2012.  At a time when tuition is on the rise and employment prospects are low, the pending rate hike would impact millions of college students across the country.  That’s why Republicans will be working on this issue in the coming weeks and months.  Yet, with an issue that so directly hits their wallets, students and families are surely wondering how this rate hike came to be hanging over their heads.  It’s a good question.

The answer is it was a case of Democrats’ election year promises making for half-baked policy.  As the Associated Press noted last week, “it was House Democrats who cut interest rates on the school loans in 2007 and included an expiration provision that placed the looming increase in the middle of an election year.”  Let’s review.

Part of their campaign vow to “cut student loan rates in half,” congressional Democrats in 2007 enacted a law they claimed would help address rising college costs (In reality, the cost of education at a four-year public college has gone up 25 percent over the last three years).  Surprising to no one, however, Democratic leaders promised more than they had found a way to pay for, so they phased in the change over a period of four years to minimize the price tag.  The four-year phase down went from 6.8 percent to 6.0 percent for the 2008-09 school year, to 5.6 percent for 2009-10, to 4.5 percent for 2010-11, and finally to 3.4 percent for 2011-12.  Thus, in the middle of an election year – and even though the 3.4 percent rate has been in place for less than a year –the Democrats’ plan doubles rates back to 6.8 percent for the 2012-13 school year.

Now, in yet another effort to distract from his economic record that is leaving the 50 percent of new graduatesjobless or underemployed, the president is looking to create a fight over how to deal with the rate hike.  What the president hasn’t done is explain how he responsibly plans to pay for the cost of the one-year extension he is proposing.

President Obama has said many times, “we can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money.” Unfortunately, that’s all the president’s plan does.  The long-term costs of extending the rate cut could amount to more than $30 billion over the next five years.  With no long-term solution, the president is offering only to punt the issue until after the election when rates would again be scheduled to double – a fact he’s likely to omit as he travels to colleges in swing states over the next two days.  If we’ve learned anything from the president’s campaign travels, candor is not usually a priority.  No, we’re much more likely to get straw men and demagoguery from the president on the stump this week.  Because if the president was looking to be forthright, he’d admit that this looming rate hike is of his own party’s creation.

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If the President Won’t Save the Highly-Successful D.C. School Choice Program, the Speaker Will
Posted by Press Office on April 11, 2012
An editorial this morning in the Washington Post takes aim at the Obama administration for attempting to zero out funding for the highly-successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP): 

“Does the administration really want to send the message – much like the one delivered in 2009 when Democrats tried to kill the vouchers – that there is not much of a future for the program? Surely, it shouldn’t be among the president’s priorities to single out for attack a tiny federal program that not only works – in the judgment of federal evaluators – but also enjoys bipartisan support.”

As the editorial notes, Speaker Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) sent a letter to President Obama in March pressing him and the administration to reverse course and expedite implementation of the program. The widely-praised initiative has an excellent track record of success in giving underprivileged D.C. students access to a lasting, quality education, and the letter from Speaker Boehner and Senator Lieberman makes clear that the program should be fully funded and implemented as quickly as possible.

The editorial goes on to express that if the president won’t do so, it hopes that “Mr. Boehner would step in, as he did last year, to save a program that D.C.’s poorest families value for their children.”  Rest assured the Speaker will if he has to, but it shouldn’t come to that.  The president and his party control Washington and he has the power to save this successful education program.  Instead of targeting it for elimination he should exercise that power and do what’s right.

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#SOTUGOP: House Republicans Host Digital Fact Check & Social Q&A on GOP.gov/SOTU
Posted by Press Office on January 23, 2012
House Republicans are hosting a digital fact check and social Q&A GOP.gov/SOTU in response to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) message tomorrow night. Here’s what we have in store and how you can participate:
  • ASK A QUESTION: Starting now, ask your question to House Republicans about the SOTU, GOP plan for jobs, and other key issues on GOP.gov/SOTU or on Twitter using the #SOTUGOP hash tag. Republicans will be responding to questions online after the SOTU and GOP address.

  • DIGITAL FACT CHECK: Tomorrow at 9:00 PM ET, you can watch President Obama’s State of the Union live online at GOP.gov/SOTU. Throughout the address, visitors to the site will have access to real-time fact checks, Tweets, and Facebook posts from House Republicans, and more information about the GOP jobs plan.

  • GOP ADDRESS: Immediately following the president’s State of the Union, we will live stream the Republican Address to the Nation by Governor Mitch Daniels (IN) online at GOP.gov/SOTU.

  • SOCIAL Q&A: After the GOP address, stay tuned on GOP.gov/SOTU as House Republicans answer your questions. You can watch the responses there, on Twitter using #SOTUGOP, and throughout House Republicans’ YouTube, Facebook, and other digital channels.

Republicans will be talking about House-passed bills that would create a better environment for private-sector job growth, and highlighting how the president’s policies have only made our economy worse.

Click here to add tomorrow’s event to your calendar, and if you haven’t already, check out our promo video for GOP.gov/SOTU and share it with your friends. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Constituent Mailbag: Student Opportunity
Posted by Press Office on April 06, 2011

Last week, the House voted to approve legislation to save and renew the successful, bipartisan D.C. school choice program that the Obama Administration and previous Democratic majority had abandoned.  H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act would reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which began in 2004 and provides low-income students here in the nation’s capital with the opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend a private school of their parents’ choice.  A former chairman of the Education & the Workforce Committee and longtime school choice advocate, Congressman Boehner introduced the SOAR Act in January.

Congressman Boehner addressed the floor prior to the vote where he discussed the importance of this legislation not only to the students in D.C. but for education reform in America: “Today, the House will have the opportunity to do something special for the future of our country.  I think just about every member would agree we have work to do when it comes to our education system.  Americans are concerned that their children won’t be able to have the same blessings they’ve had.  And if we want to protect the American Dream, there’s no substitute for a quality education.”

Following the House vote last week, Congressman Boehner received numerous calls and emails from 8th District Constituents in support of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and requesting more information on how similar programs can be expanded in Ohio. 

Please take a minute to listen to Congressman Boehner discuss his support for programs such as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in this week’s Constituent Mailbag:

Have questions?  Please click here to email your question to Congressman Boehner.  

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