Female Democratic senators are linking the issues of equal pay and student loans in hopes of making both the centerpiece of their midterm strategy. They are supporting legislation that would allow student borrowers to refinance their loans to last year's rate. Sponsor Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the bill could help reduce a drag on the U.S. economy caused by the $1.2 trillion in student debt.
Along with fellow Democrats Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patty Murray of Washington, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Maisie Hirono of Hawaii, Warren called high student loans and paycheck inequality a "one-two punch for women." Most studies find that women earn between 15 and 33 cents less than equally qualified men. The discrepancy jumps to $0.82 for college-educated women.
The proposal, known as the Banking on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, would let borrowers refinance their loans to 3.86 percent interest. This is the level set by Congress in 2013 for new borrowers. The bill would be paid for by enacting the Buffett Rule, which eliminates a tax loophole that lets millionaires pay low tax rates.