(Photo: Paul Beaty, AP)
(USA TODAY) Another summer rerun: A political battle over student loan rates.
President Obama hosts an event Friday with college students to warn about the July 1 expiration of a student loan rate program, an issue that House Republicans say they have already addressed.
The same dispute surfaced last year, an election year in which Obama made a concerted effort to attract the youth vote.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the new House loan plan does not go far enough, and "the president will call on Congress to pass a solution that truly helps keep college affordable for middle-class families and students."
SEE ALSO: Obama threatens veto of House student loan plan
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Obama's student loan event "cynicism" designed to distract attention from issues like the IRS, Benghazi, and seizure of journalists' records.
"It's obvious that the White House would love nothing more than to change the subject from its growing list of scandals, but scheduling this PR stunt reeks of desperation," Buck wrote on the speaker's blog.
In 2012, the White House and Congress agreed to a one-year extension of the program that keeps student loan rates low. Without new action, those rates will double to 6.8% on July 1.
The new House Republican plan would link loan rates to fluctuations in 10-year Treasury notes, and allow them to vary; the White House plan would lock in rates for borrowers.
Related: House begins effort to head off student loan increase
The Democratic-run Senate has yet to act on the student loan issue.
Carney said that while the White House welcomes the efforts of House Republicans, their plan fails to meet the test for middle-class families.
"It fails to lock in low rates for students while also eliminating a safeguard that provides middle-class families most in need with lower interest rates for student loans," he said.
In the Boehner blog post, Buck wrote that "picking a fight out of thin air where there's policy agreement isn't going to get the White House out of trouble, and it certainly doesn't do anything to help students facing a looming rate hike."
David Jackson, USA TODAY