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Democrats vie for bill to allow consumers to refinance student loans

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Democrats in the U.S. Senate are trying to resurrect a bill that was shot down by Republicans in June that would allow consumers to refinance student loans.

The bill — deemed the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act — is slated to be on the ballot again Tuesday, and if it passes, it would allow borrowers to refinance their student loans to the rate currently being issued on new federal and private student loans.

That legislation was the reason for a press conference call between members of the Democratic National Committee and student and college newspapers Wednesday.

DNC Chairwoman and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Sen. Chris Murphy, and President of College Democrats of America Natasha McKenzie participated in the call in order to touch on key political issues for millennials.

“Right now the federal government makes an enormous profit off of the student loan program because the interest rate is much higher than necessary to pay for the program,” Murphy, who is the youngest U.S. Senator and is still paying off student loans, said during the conference call. “The federal government makes $50 billion in some years.”

Under the bill, borrowers need be current on their loan payments and must be able to meet debt-to-income ratios that the Department of Education would set.

The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would be funded by the Buffet Rule, a tax plan that would apply a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on individuals making more than $1 million a year.

“In order to pay for this change in the law we are simply asking for the richest Americans, people making incomes of $1 million or more a year, to pay their fair share in taxes,” Murphy said.

Republicans contested the bill, saying it would not do anything to reduce student borrowing or lower education costs.

Miranda Onnen, spokeswoman for the OSU College Republicans and a fourth-year in economics and political science, declined to comment on the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.

She did, however, stress the important of voting.

“We do agree that it’s important to get more millennial involvement in voting,” Onnen said. “Increasing the voter turnout of young people is important. Our organization has actually been in contact with the Ohio State College Democrats to see what we can do to work together to fix this problem that affects both sides.”

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