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PODCAST: A student loan program from down under

The interest rate on new federally subsidized student loans doubled on Monday from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Congress may work out a deal in the next two weeks to soften the blow. But left as is, the interest rate hike could cost the average student $2,600. Yet critics say the larger problem is the level of the debt itself, which can be crippling. Is there a better way?

A multi-billion dollar free trade deal between the U.S. and Europe could be in jeopardy following the latest U.S. spying revelations. Documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggest the U.S. National Security Agency spied on European Union officials. Senior European politicians say this shows the U.S. is treating the EU like an enemy and has cast doubt over the EU-U.S. trade negotiations due to start next week. 

For years, Medicare -- the public health insurance program for seniors -- has paid three or four times the market rate for things like wheelchairs, walkers and even diabetes test strips. Until now, Medicare paid about $78 for a box of 100 those test strips. Starting today, the government won’t pay more than about $25.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio
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