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House Passes Student Loan Bill That Would Cut Preventive Health Programs

Posted on Apr 27, 2012
Gage Skidmore

House Speaker John Boehner accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue of student loans.

The GOP’s assault on women’s health continued Friday as the House passed a bill to prevent a hike in student loan interest rates, a legislative remedy that would be paid for with money from a preventive health program that funds breast and cervical cancer screenings. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate, and the White House has already threatened to veto it.

From the Office of Management and Budget via Talking Points Memo:

H.R. 4628 includes an attempt to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created to help prevent disease, detect it early, and manage conditions before they become severe.  Women, in particular, will benefit from this Prevention Fund, which would provide for hundreds of thousands of screenings for breast and cervical cancer.  This is a politically-motivated proposal and not the serious response that the problem facing America’s college students deserves.

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Both sides of the political aisle have insisted they want to keep student loan interest rates from doubling in July, but have offered different ways of doing so. Senate Democrats have proposed paying for the loan program with a tax increase on higher-income people. Some Democrats have said the Republicans’ choice of how to fund the bill demonstrates that they are not interested in keeping student loan rates from going up.

“Make no mistake ... our Republican colleagues haven’t changed their minds about this, they’ve changed their tactics,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. “If they really wanted to stop student loans from increasing, they wouldn’t seek to cover the cost by cutting funds for cervical cancer screening, by cutting funds for breast cancer screening, but cutting other women’s health care measures. They wouldn’t push a measure the president has already said he will veto.”

But House Speaker John Boehner objected to that characterization, arguing Democrats are the ones politicizing the issue. —TEB

The Huffington Post:

“To accuse us of wanting to cut women’s health is absolutely not true,” [Boehner] said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is beneath us, this is beneath the dignity of this House.”

But Democrats said the political maneuvering was coming from the GOP, and maintained that Republicans were indeed trying to cut a program that would help thousands of women.

“They’re using the student loan issue to drive their agenda. I find that very cynical. I find that in fact quite repulsive,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “They’re not looking for a better way. They’re just looking for a way to cover their rear ends.”

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CalvinLeman's avatar

By CalvinLeman, May 1, 2012 at 5:37 am Link to this comment

This issue and other problems with our government has a
solution with Rocky Anderson.  If Rocky were in the
White House, we would have a president helping people;
not what we have now and not what we had with Bush. 
Rocky’s website is

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By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

thank you for the considered response, Marian. I’ve seen what you’ve seen and
agree with you about the agenda and intentions of some reactionary

What I must say is that they’re not winning and won’t win. For every small and
ugly little victory they claim, and while massively publicized, the victories ARE
small and sporadic, they ‘re on the wrong side of a myriad daily decisions. The
colleges turn out millions and near to none of the grads of mainstream schools
can stand to satnd with the reactionaries. They’re forced to send their kids to
“special” places such as Bob Jones University (or whatever the heck they’re
calling themselves these days).

Stand tall and be wary, but unafraid. They’re marginalizing themselves and are
being exposed and shunned.

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By Marian Griffith, April 30, 2012 at 2:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


I’ve thought hard about how I should reply to you. My first reaction was to ask how much experience you have had with discrimination but I realised that was both dishonest and counter-productive.

So instead I will just lay out some of what I have seen happen over the past two decades, with a distinct accelaration the later you get in that time frame.

I have witnessed a steady erosion of women’s right to have an abortion. Initially opposition was primarily from fringe fanatic terrorists (who attacked abortion clinics, doctors and nurses and who tried to physically prevent women from entering a clinic). Today one state after another tries to restrict or outright prohibit abortions. Through legal means, through condescending and paternalistic requirements (like forcing a woman to listen to two doctors spaced out over one or more weeks telling her she does not really want an abortion as if she is unable to make up her own mind), and recently by attempting to force her to undergo a traumatising invasive procedure that served no other purpose than to make an already painful decision so unpleasant that some women would give up entirely.

I have witnessed a decline in women’s access to specialised health care, ignoring that women have different and additional needs due to their physiology and the fact that they risk their life every time they have a baby (a small risk nowadays but a real one still).

I have seen the debate over women’s rights and especially about women’s reproductive health growing more and more paternalistic, with most of the discussion being BY men, ABOUT women. With the current new low being that all male panel explaining in condescending tones to women why they would not want to use anti-conceptives.

The republican campaign has certainly magnified issues, but many of the things it brought up were not issues at all two decades back (or even one), outside of a small ultra conservative fraction of the voters. And not only were these issues being brought up and discussed as eminently reasonable by both the right AND the left leaning media, when one of the more rabid pundits crossed a line none of the candidates spoke up and called them out on it. Leaving an impression that they actually agreed with what was said but were unwilling to say that openly (for fear of getting those silly women all riled up about another erosion to their right of being considered a human being with rights and desires of her own).
So just as two decades ago the attack on our right to abortion (and self determination regarding having children) was done by extremists but has become an every day occurence that is considered eminently reasonable, we are now seeing extremists assaulting our right to determine if and when we have sex and with whom. And even have openly questioned our right to higher education (because we will be married and have children and no need for that expensive college degree anyway while we stay at home and be an attachment to our husband).

So, yes, seeing that trend I am a bit worried where it might lead if I extrapolate it another two decades.

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Mona's avatar

By Mona, April 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

They should forgive the student loans and pass an expanded Medicare to age zero.

They should tax the rich much more, and spend much less on military adventure overseas.  Spend less, and do a lot less in that department.

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By Margaret Currey, April 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess the speaker of the House thinks that all woman are in perfect health. Some women are very healthy and do not need preventative health care, I happen to be one of the few having no women problems and I have reached the age of 72 but I probably am not the average woman.

Maybe a few of us have very good genes but preventative health care is really necessary.  If I was not taking blood pressure medication I could develop heart problems so I take preventative medicine.

Boner on the other hand has the best health care of all even better than most working people.

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CalvinLeman's avatar

By CalvinLeman, April 29, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

Ellen Brown tell how to fix student loans: Brown/EllenBrown1.h

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, April 29, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

It’s interesting that Boehner, should make fun of student loan interest rates…
Since he more than any other congressman, has benefited from the contributions
of Banks that lend money for student loans….He needs to check into Rehab.

It doesn’t really matter how the Banks screw the students, or their ability to pay,
their profits are guaranteed by the tax payer.

They don’t’ really want reform, because bundling those loans and selling them as
Derivatives has been a sweet deal for them. Guaranteed profits, payment up front
in the Derivate market….A few political bribes and then a big pay day…

The last thing in the world they want is for someone to threaten the Derivative
market by allowing bankruptcy on student loans, or amnesty… It would make their
investors nervous….

It just shows just how desperate, the economic situation is in regard to student
loans that, interest rates weren’t allowed to increase. Still cutting women off,
means more money for corporate concerns.

And funding corporate concerns, means more campaign contributions…

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By heterochromatic, April 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

——And I really stand by my belief that American
women should see the way the wind is blowing and flee
the country while they still have any rights and
humanity left.——

sounds so hysterical and overwrought that the author
may literally be standing beside herself.

what you’re seeing is the reactionary wing of the
Repubs making war on common sense and decency in some
absurd attempt to return to some mythical former
paradise that’s neither found in history nor in the
bible that they fail to understand. ...and thereby
are destroying their Party by purging anyone willing
to deal with the world rather than pander to the
delusions that they hold sacred.

it’s not the women of the country that are in
jeopardy, it’s the snake-handling ideologues that are
degraded and heading toward their own
destruction….rapturously and idiotically,

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, April 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They are called the “Stafford” student loans because
the legislation that created the program was
sponsored by Republican Bob Stafford of Vermont back
in the 70’s.  Most of the best environmental
legislation passed in the 70’s and 80’s had
Stafford’s name on it also, including the EPA’s
Superfund for toxic waste clean up.  Republicans
today would throw Stafford out of the party if he
didn’t leave on his own.  He’d be considered some
kind of Marxist-Leninist freak.  He’d be to the left
of all the democrats in the senate today.

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Mona's avatar

By Mona, April 28, 2012 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

One more reason why people of good conscience and intelligence should join the May 1st General Strike this Tuesday. 

Don’t go to work, don’t go to school, don’t do any housework, try to bike-ride or walk, go to an Occupy Demonstration near you, spend time with family and friends at home, but most importantly, DON’T SPEND MONEY ON TUESDAY.

Find activities in your area and further information at

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By Paul McGuire, April 28, 2012 at 4:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Suck up to one bunch of voters on the head by screwing
another bunch - brilliant, just brilliant.Great
thinking orange man. How blessed we are, how fortunate
in being served by such genius!

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By lani, April 28, 2012 at 12:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is so cynical and twisted -it truely makes me sick pitting students against women’s health rights-have they no shame

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By Marian Griffith, April 28, 2012 at 12:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


While I agree with your analysis in general it is in issues like this that the last vestiges show through of social concern which once defined the democrat party.

I thoroughly hate the ‘war on’ phrase and the mindset that speaks from it (that all disagreement is a manichean violent conflict). So I will just say that every time the republican party manages to find new depths of cynicism, machiavelism and Newspeak. It shouldn’t surprise me but it does, because I keep thinking that they have a morality, hidden deep down and atrophying for sure, that will make them believe there are some groups of people they can not throw under a bus for their own selfish goals.

And I really stand by my belief that American women should see the way the wind is blowing and flee the country while they still have any rights and humanity left. Because it is clear that in the utopian Republikanistan women have no rights to health care, nor to anti-conceptives or education. And apparently their right to vote is under threat as well seeing how the republican party keeps alienating them and soon can only win an election if they block their vote entirely. How long before women lose the right to hold property, or to leave the house without a male escort (while wearing a black tablecloth with two tiny eye holes cut into it?). I guess it is in keeping with how the republican party, by way of the tea party, idolises the 1810s, where only white men of means had the right to vote and everybody else was either a slave, a woman (a wholy owned subsidiary of her father or husband, a.k.a. slave) or poor (wage slaves) and as such considered too unstable or incapable of making rational decisions.

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CalvinLeman's avatar

By CalvinLeman, April 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

Simple solution is: Ellen Brown: Brown/EllenBrown1.h

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By heterochromatic, April 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

a grand old-fashioned partisan ploy and quite an ugly
and cynical one…...

Rep. Judy Biggert (R) of Illinois, is the bill’s
sponsor, and deserves a poke in the bunger with a wood
rasp for her bill and her statements about it.

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By berniem, April 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

The more I witness the machinations of our alleged government leaders at all levels in this country the more I am convinced that the electoral process as now constituted is a monstrous hoax and many of the “citizens of this society are the product of an educational system purposely twisted into a tool for the propagandizing of the proto-fascist corporate state!

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