Dan Holler

As Americans search for answers, it is increasingly clear that they cannot look toward Washington for leadership. Those who inhabit Washington can tinker with our economy for the next decade and it will do little to help you make ends meet, sell your home, find a better job or fill up your tank. In fact, it will probably make things worse.

A new Pew survey puts some hard numbers on Washington failures. Government favorability is now at a 15-year low, with just 33% of respondents giving the federal government a favorable rating. An interesting aside (although not that surprising), 51% of Democrats give the federal government a favorable rating, whereas just 20% of Republicans and 27% of Independents said the same.

Gaudy conferences, high-priced escorts, gunrunning and green energy ponzi schemes make it easy to see why Americans look at the federal government with disgust. But those are just symptoms of a larger problem. To better understand it, we have to dive into the latest artificial crisis spawned by Washington – student loans.

In a few months, the rate on Stafford student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. The issue has become a political football, with President Obama and the Democrat-led Senate challenging presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and the Republican-led House to extend the lower rate.

Not only did Republicans shy away from fight, they didn’t even ask the right question! Instead of asking what rate the government should set, serious conservative lawmakers should be asking why the government is setting the rate on these student loans to begin with.

(Now, to be fair, President Obama and his political allies didn’t even bother asking the right question, either. Their focus is solely political, and even when it is not, their fidelity to government and central planning rarely permits such rational thought.)

Right now, almost no one in Congress is asking why 3.4% is the magically appropriate rate for these taxpayer-subsidized student loans. Apparently, those who supported President Obama’s government takeover of our health care system and those who support a premium support model for Medicare can, at the very least, agree on this small point.

Somewhere, deposed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is smiling. Her gimmick within a gimmick (halving student loan rates in the First 100 Hours of the new Democrat’s Congress in 2007) is now setting the policy parameters of a presidential contest.

Dan Holler

Dan Holler is the Communications Director for Heritage Action for America. Previously, he held numerous positions at The Heritage Foundation, most recently he was the Senate Relations Deputy. A Maryland native, he is a graduate of Washington College.