The Senate campaign is on with shots coming from both directions.

Today, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fired at Cong. Tom Cotton trying to paint him as an extremist for opposing a bill that would tie student loan interest rates to the financial markets allowing for some lower rates.

“Last night extreme ideologue Tom Cotton was one of just six Republicans who voted ‘NO’ on a bipartisan deal to provide students with low interest loans to go to college because he does not believe the government should provide students with any help at all. Tom Cotton should explain to Arkansas students and families how he paid for Harvard,” said the DSCC in their press release.

Cotton responded saying, “As students struggle to repay their loans — regardless of the interest rate — taxpayers are on the hook for a $100 billion bailout—a burden hard-working Arkansans shouldn’t have to bear. A better path is to repeal Obamacare, which nationalized the student-loan business, and let Arkansas’s hometown banks work with students and families to finance higher education, just as they do with homes, farms, businesses, and other loans. I’m committed to bringing affordable higher education to every Arkansan and ending the federal-government monopoly on the student-lending business.”

Some Democrats snickered at Cotton’s tying this to Obamacare. “When in doubt, blame Obamacare. That’s Tom Cotton’s defense of opposing lower student loan interest rates,” tweeted liberal blogger Max Brantley.

But many may forget that Cotton’s position is actually similar to the former Democratic Senator from Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln.

Yes, we all remember that she – along with Sen. Mark Pryor – was one of the deciding votes for Obamacare in the Senate.  Many forget that she voted against the final health care bill (PPACA) when it came back through the Senate from the House.  It only needed 50 votes on the second pass.

Why?

Part of the reason was that, much like Cotton, she opposed tacking on massive changes to the student loan program, which essentially took out banks and replaced it with a government loan program instead.

“Now that the Senate bill has passed both houses and the president will be signing it into law, the Senate will consider additional changes this week that were adopted by the House tonight as Budget Reconciliation,” Lincoln said in a statement to Politico in March of 2010. “The Reconciliation package devised by the House includes matters unrelated to health care and employs a legislative process that wasn’t subject to the same transparency and thorough debate that we used in the Senate. I cannot support this process.”

Lincoln took some heat from the Halter campaign when he was running against her in the Democratic primary at the time.

Now, I’m not sure Cotton would welcome many comparisons between himself and the former Senator.  On most issues, I think you would find strong disagreement.  But I don’t think anyone would call Lincoln an “extreme ideologue.”

The next time you hear the Democrats and Pryor campaign lob this charge, keep this in mind.

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Jason Tolbert
Jason Tolbert is the moderator for his opinion blog, The Tolbert Report. He can be reached by e-mail at Jason@TolbertReport.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TolbertReport.