Speaking to a group of students at an Arlington high school today, President Obama pushed his argument for extending a student-loan interest rate cut while mocking House Republicans’ plan to pay for the cuts out of the ObamaCare slush fund.
“Unfortunately, rather than find a bipartisan way to fix this problem, the House Republicans are saying they’re only going to prevent these rates from doubling if they can cut things like preventive health care for women instead,” Obama said, with the teens booing on cue afterward.
“Some of the Republicans in the House are coming up with all sorts of different reasons why we should just let these rates double. One of them compared student loans to a ‘stage three cancer of socialism,’ whatever that means. I don’t know,” he continued, as the students laughed.
The president was referring to Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who said in a Senate campaign debate last week, “America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in. …The government needs to get its nose out of the education business.”
“The spokesman for the Speaker of the House said that we were — meaning me — we’re just talking about student loans to distract folks from the economy. Now, this makes no sense because this is all about the economy,” Obama said, the high schoolers applauding in response.
Failing to extend the cut enacted by Democrats in 2007 would only affect new, subsidized Stafford loans. Extending the 3.4 percent interest rate on these specific loans would cost about $6 billion.
The Congressional Research Service found that the average benefit to students who get the lower rate is about $7 a month.
Which makes the numbers Obama told the juniors and seniors all the more curious.
“The Republicans in the House just voted to keep giving billions of taxpayer dollars every year to big oil companies raking in record profits,” Obama said. “They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers. They even voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to every millionaire in America. And they want you to pay an extra $1,000 a year for college.”
The kids booed.