Republican Tom Cotton said during an Arkansas U.S. Senate debate on Tuesday that “Obamacare nationalized the student loan industry.”
The first-term congressman added, “That’s right, Obamacare grabbed money to pay for its own programs and took that choice away from you.”
The reality is less simple. Obamacare was paired with a bill that made significant changes to the federal student loan program, largely cutting banks out as middle-men between the government and recipients of the loans. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the changes would save $58 billion over 10 years, about $8.7 billion of which would be used to fund Obamacare programs.
Of the remaining savings, $36 billion would go to higher Pell grants for lower-income college students, $3 billion for historically black and minority-serving colleges and $10.3 billion to reduce the deficit, as noted by the Washington Post’s fact-checker.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), whom Cotton is vying to unseat, attacked the Republican for benefiting from government-subsidized student loans and seeking to “eliminate” the federal program.
“Once again, you listen to Congressman Cotton — no solution,” he said. “He doesn’t have an answer on [student loans].”