Warren, Markey bring home student loan deal critiques
A bipartisan Senate deal aimed at tamping down student loan interest rates earned the criticism of both Massachusetts senators on Monday.
Visiting a start-up incubation center on the South Boston waterfront -- in what aides called their first joint appearance since Markey won election last month -- Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey amplified their opposition to an accord that top Democrats have hailed as a breakthrough. Warren contested the notion that the deal represented a compromise.
“What a compromise means is we reduce, at least a little bit, the profits we’re making off the backs of our kids,” Warren said. “I don’t think it’s a compromise to say we’re going to keep making more and more profits off our students.”
Warren said that under the compromise announced last week, the federal government would earn $185 billion over the next decade from new student loans
“That’s clearly wrong,” Markey said, praising Warren for starting “a national discussion” on the issue.
Republicans and Democrats have swapped blame for missing a July 1 deadline to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling to 6.8 percent. Under the bipartisan pact rolled out last week, interest rates would stand at 3.86 percent this year, with future rate hikes limited at 8.25 percent.
The two senators spoke virtually in concert on a range of issues, bemoaning sequestration and calling for a balanced approach to the regulation of crowd-funded investing.
“If this becomes a place where tricksters and charlatans poison the well, then nobody’s going to be better off,” Warren said.
And both joked about how the Bay State delegation, long represented in the Upper Chamber by long-serving senators, had sunk in seniority.
“We’re start-up senators,” Warren cracked.
Markey said he was satisfied with his committee assignments, which notably did not include the panel that handles climate change, a top priority of the junior senator’s. He pointed out that the Commerce Committee, to which he was named, has oversight over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a key environmental affairs agency.
“The Commerce Committee is where I wanted to be, because that’s the science of global warming,” Markey said.Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at James.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.