Student loan reform appears safe

STUDENT LOAN REFORM APPEARS SAFE…. The new House Republican majority hasn’t been cagey about its intentions — it saw all the accomplishments of the last two years, and it’s almost desperate to undo what was done.

Putting aside what may or may not be possible given Democratic control of the Senate and White House, Republicans are already advancing measures to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, the safeguards of the Wall Street reform package, and regulatory measures like the sweeping food-safety legislation approved during the lame-duck session.

But amidst this broad and aggressive repeal push, there’s apparently one major accomplishment from 2010 that even Republicans are prepared to leave intact.

The Republican legislation [would] repeal the health care provisions in a companion piece of legislation, known as the reconciliation act, that fixed elements of the main health care law. The repeal bill would leave intact an overhaul of the student loan industry that was passed as part of the reconciliation measure.

I continue to think the student-loan-reform bill was the biggest Democratic accomplishment that’s routinely overlooked, probably because it was approved as part of the larger health care reform package and got lost in the shuffle.

And that’s a shame, because it was a pretty huge deal — the breakthrough, decades in the making, ended the practice of needlessly giving money to banks that could instead go to students. The reforms streamlined the system and made the process far more efficient, and in the process, stands to save taxpayers billions of dollars a year. It also included provisions that will make a real difference in the millions — caps on what students will have to pay after graduation, loan forgiveness for veterans after 10 years, etc.

Occasionally, you’ll still hear Republicans whining about this being a “government takeover,” but given a chance to vote on eliminating the reforms, even the House GOP is taking a pass.

The fact that repealing student-loan reform would add billions to the deficit may have something to do with this, but either way, it appears this one historic success Dems won’t have to fight to protect.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.