WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) --- President Obama and Republican congressional leaders are blaming one another for the failure to come up with a deal to prevent student loan rates from doubling at the end of the month.
It's a real issue for millions of American families. Currently, the size of the nation's student loan debt is greater than its credit card debt.
"The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 of debt from their student loans,"said President Obama in a Thursday afternoon session with college students.
"Democrats in the Senate put forward a plan that would have kept these rates in place without adding a dime to the deficit. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans got together and blocked it," he said.
The blame, Republicans responded, is with the president.
"He's actually been missing in action. He's yet to offer a concrete solution," said Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell.
"The only reason this issue isn't resolved is the president wants to keep it alive a little while longer. He thinks it benefits him politically for college students to believe we're somehow the problem. It's time to stop playing games. It's time for the president to act," McConnell said on the Senate Floor Thursday.
The disagreement is over how to pay for the cost of extending the lower rates. Democrats, in general, want to close what they call loopholes in the tax code. Republicans, in general, want to get the money by stopping wellness and prevention programs in the president's health care act.
There is another take, however.
"If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then what we're doing with student loans is insane in this country.
"The amount of spending that we have done on student loans, on grants, on tax subsidies for students to go to college, has increased by 300 percent. At the same time, the cost of college tuition has increased at 350 percent above the rate of inflation.
"That's astounding! That's more than housing. That's more than basically any other product in this entire country, So, all we're doing when we give out all these subsidies is we're driving up the cost of college for everybody, and we're asking people to take even more subsidies," said Barney Keller of the Club For Growth.
"If you give somebody a loan, then colleges have all the incentives to raise their prices. If you give someone a dollar to buy a pack of bubble gum, then everyone is going to charge a minimum of a dollar. If you give someone five dollars to buy a pack of bubble gum, everyone is going to charge five dollars.
"All you're doing is ending up with this never-ending cycle. A better solution would be to get the government out of the student loan market and allow people to borrow money from banks at whatever rates banks decide to charge. There would be a lot more individual choice, people would think about taking loans before they went to an expensive college, and that would drive down prices for everyone. All we're doing when we're subsidizing loans is we're driving up the price of college for everyone. Everyone pays when college prices go up," Keller said in a 9News Now interview.