Voting With Reelection In Mind? Senator Johnson Flip-Flops on Student Loans
2012: Says federal government shouldn’t even be involved in student loans
2015: Brags about extending them

For years, incumbent Senator Ron Johnson has consistently held some of the most extreme views in the Senate – asserting that the federal government “shouldn’t even be involved in granting student loans,” that student loans have “enticed” students into debt, and even voting for a budget that would have eliminated the program entirely. Students, Johnson said, think college loans are “pretty easy to get” and are taking longer to graduate because “college is a lot of fun.”

Earlier this year, Politifact affirmed the claim that Johnson “is opposed to all government-assisted students loans,” rating it “mostly true.”

But yesterday, attempting to obscure his anti-student policies, Senator Johnson bragged on his website that he “stands with students” by taking the obvious step of extending the Perkins Loan program.

“Senator Johnson can’t escape his own record and words,” said Kory Kozloski, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “Instead of working to serve Wisconsin students and address the crushing student debt crisis, Johnson has insulted students and consistently opposed policies to help build their future.”

Background: 

JOHNSON EXPLICITLY SAID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN GRANTING STUDENT LOANS…

JOHNSON: “I Will Say The Federal Government Should Never Have Gotten Involved In Student Loan Program.” [Sen. Johnson, Oconto Town Hall, 5/2/15] (VIDEO)

Johnson: “Federal Government Shouldn’t Even Be Involved In Granting Student Loans.”
“Why are we encouraging our young people to get into debt? Why is the federal government making money off of student loans? Why is the federal government even involved in student loan program? I have multiple problems with that. For all you young people who agree with Ron Paul in terms of limited government -- federal government shouldn’t even be involved in granting student loans. One of the reasons we have education increasing at a rate four times of inflation is because of federal government involvement, because of federal government spending. It’s kind of a death spiral.” [Youtube, Ron Johnson at the Republican National Convention, 9/1/12] (video)

…WHICH POLITIFACT RATED “MOSTLY TRUE”

Politifact Rated Feingold’s Claim That Johnson Was “Opposed To All Government-Assisted Student Loans” As “Mostly True.” “Feingold said Johnson ‘is opposed to all government-assisted student loans.’ Johnson has said the government never should have gotten involved in student loans, shouldn’t be involved in it and should look to gradually get out of it. But one of his votes helped student borrowers in the short term, though that measure could lead to higher interest rates in future years, since the rates are tied to changes in the financial markets. Feingold’s statement is accurate but needs clarification, our definition of Mostly True.” [Politifact,6/19/15]

…AND PREVIOUSLY ARGUED THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAD “ENTICED” CHILDREN INTO DEBT BY SUBSIDIZING LOANS

Johnson: “We’ve Enticed Our Children To Take On $1.2 Trillion In Student Loan Debt.” “I find it regrettable we've enticed our children to take on $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. We had a hearing with a nice young woman who wanted to be a teacher. She had $70,000 in loan debt. I asked: Did anyone provide any counseling about earning potential or paying off that loan along the way? And she said no. The solution is to quit enticing them to take on debt. The federal government got involved and poured money into higher education; money has flowed into the universities, increasing tuition costs. We've made college less accessible.” [Wausau Daily Herald, 8/12/14]

JOHNSON BELIEVED THAT “LOANS ARE PRETTY EASY TO GET” AND STUDENTS STAYED IN SCHOOL LONGER BECAUSE “COLLEGE IS A LOT OF FUN”

Johnson: “Loans Are Pretty Easy To Get And College Is A Lot Of Fun […] All Three Of My Kids Went To (UW-Madison), And I’ll Guarantee You They Had A Really Good Time.” “He cited studies that the average college student takes 5½ to 6 years to earn a degree. He said that’s because they don’t feel any urgency to get to work and start contributing to the economy.  ‘Loans are pretty easy to get and college is a lot of fun,’ he said. ‘All three of my kids went to (UW-Madison), and I’ll guarantee you they had a really good time.’” [Wisconsin State Journal, 3/21/15]

JOHNSON VOTED FOR A BUDGET THAT WOULD ELIMINATE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

Johnson Voted For The Extreme Rand Paul Budget That Would Eliminate The Department Of Education. In March 2013, Johnson voted for: “Paul, R-Ky., substitute amendment no. 263 that would call for a balanced budget in five years with no revenue increases. It would allow up to $942.6 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2014, including $529.2 billion for defense. It would assume repeal of the 2010 health care and financial regulatory overhaul laws and assume a tax code overhaul that would eliminate the estate and capital gains taxes and switch to a flat tax system. It would assume changes to Medicare to provide seniors the same health insurance as members of Congress and assume a gradual increase in the eligibility age for Social Security from 65 to 70 over 20 years. It also would assume the elimination of the Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Education and Energy departments.” The measure was rejected by a vote of 18-81. [CQ, 3/22/13; S.Amdt. 263 to S.Con.Res. 8, Vote 69, 3/22/13]

Paul’s Budget Would Eliminate Department Of Education, Which Manages Federal Student Loan Programs. “Paul would eliminate in total the departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, ideas conservatives have long pushed. The Department of Education alone manages federal student loan programs, funding for low-income schools, programs to help special needs students, and many other services. Eliminating it, to say nothing of the other agencies, would risk that ‘poor, special education and minority students would be underserved by public schools even more than they already are.’” [ThinkProgress, 3/25/13]