This week has been one of the most historic weeks of 2012! Obamacare was voted constitutional by the Supreme Court, Eric Holder, our Attorney General, was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to release documents pertaining to the Justice Department's knowledge of Fast & Furious, and student loan interest rates were lumped together with a $100 billion national highway initiative.
YAY, we can celebrate the fact that interest rates will remain at 3.4 percent instead of doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012. But why would Congress combine these two unrelated issues into one bill when they were scheduled to be voted on separately only one day apart?
The fact that student loan interest rates would not only increase but double is absolutely absurd, considering recent graduate unemployment rates are nearing 15 percent and 7.4 million students are currently living on federal loans. Why would a serious student loan issue receive a one year extension in a huge highway and fuel tax initiative bill that lasts for two years?
The meat of the highway jobs bill had to do with investing $100 billion over two years to restore our national highways. It is proclaimed to save 1.8 million jobs and add another 1 million over this allotted time period, however, it has not been disclosed yet how the government plans to pay for the initiative after the two year mark.
Our federal fuel consumption tax currently stands at $0.184/per gallon, yet is not enough to sustain spending on highway and transit programs. Alan Fram of the Associated Press said, "two commissions and an array of private sector experts have said the U.S. should be spending about twice as much or more on its transportation infrastructure as it does now." Fuel taxes have not risen since 1993 which accounts for the erosion in highway spending. Although the Administration has not mentioned raising fuel tax, "the federal trust funds that pay for highway and transit programs are forecasted to be nearly broke by the time the bill expires."
So in two years, we'll be left with a mid-progress program that is $100 billion in debt, no money to pay for it, potentially a loss of 2.8 million jobs if we have no money to pay for them, and oh, interest rates on student loans could potentially double. To this I say...WTF.