Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said Sunday the economic stimulus has not yet "broken the back of the recession" but set aside calls for a second massive spending bill. Republicans, meanwhile, called spending under way a failure.
Axelrod urged patience for President Barack Obama's $789 billion economic stimulus package in the face of sliding poll numbers. Mitt Romney, a past and potentially future presidential candidate, said the spending was ill-designed and served only to expand government.
Republicans have seized on the public's growing unease over government debt and spending to challenge the popular president. Sensing their own vulnerabilities, Obama's top advisers have ramped up their defense of spending that is incomplete and going slower than many had hoped.
"You know, we take the long view on this. Look, when the president signed the stimulus package — the economic recovery package — he said it's going to take a while for this to work," Axelrod said.
Modest earners to get student loan relief
Starting this week, anyone with a federal student loan can apply for a program, run by the Department of Education, that caps monthly payments based on income, and forgives remaining balances after 25 years. Those choosing to work in public service could have their loans forgiven after just 10 years.
Eligibility for income-based repayment (IBR) is determined by a person's income and loan size. A calculator at www.ibrinfo.org can help borrowers determine their eligibility for the plan, which becomes available Wednesday.
The program stems from the Education Department's College Cost Reduction and Access Act, signed in 2007, which authorized the creation of a new income-based repayment plan for both Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and Direct Loan borrowers on all Stafford and graduate PLUS loans.
Monthly payments would amount to less than 10 percent of income for most of the estimated 1 million people expected to enroll, experts say. Payments would never exceed 15 percent of any income above about $16,000 a year.
Those who earn less than $16,000 would not have to make any monthly payments.
The new program will be available for direct federal loans, as well as federal loans administered through private lenders.