BY RET. GENERAL BOB LEE – An issue that has drawn national and local attention recently is the possibility that student loan interest rates could double if the U.S. Congress does not find common ground and solutions to the rising cost of this important loan program.
The tragic irony is that both political parties agree that they do not want Stafford loan interest rates to double. Republicans and Democrats agree that a doubling of interest rates would dramatically increase the financial burden on low- to moderate-income students working to achieve a college degree.
Tens of thousands of students in Hawaii join the 7 million students across our nation, who are directly impacted by these ongoing discussions, so it is very important that our members of Congress be present and participate in the dialogue to find a solution.
With the interest rate on Stafford student loans set to jump by 100%, members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are discussing a one-year extension of the lower interest rate to buy time to work out a more comprehensive approach. So the question is: where was Mazie Hirono when a vote was held on the Stafford proposal? Her campaign reported she was busy on the campaign trail. And unashamed about it.
In a statement to a local reporter, Hirono’s spokesperson said that her campaign travel itinerary took precedence over her duty as a Congresswoman to vote on behalf of the people of Hawaii. I don’t begrudge her opinion that the proposal did not fit with her personal beliefs, but I do find it objectionable that she isn’t upholding her sworn duty to discuss and vote on a bill of such importance. Campaigning over fulfilling her obligations and duties? This is not leadership.Folks, we can’t afford this type of dereliction of duty, and we can’t afford to have elected leaders who are unable to find common ground with people of different political parties.
Governor Linda Lingle knows what it’s like to be in the political minority, but still be able to find bipartisan solutions that help the people of Hawaii. She has devoted 30 years of public service to putting “people first.” This is why she’s running for the open U.S. Senate seat, and why she is the clear choice to be our next U.S. Senator.
Governor Lingle would bring to our nation’s capital a balanced, thoughtful perspective that recognizes the need to come together and find long-term solutions that don’t try to turn a crisis into a political weapon.
Bob Lee is the Campaign Manager for the Linda Lingle Senate Committee