House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized President Obama’s student-loan tour this week as “beneath the dignity of the White House” and said taxpayers shouldn’t be stuck paying a dime for the cost of the trip.
The trip to North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa was a carefully scripted piece of political theater intended to hit on the youth vote, the economy, and education in one fell swoop while wrapping campaigning in an official-business package.
“This week, the president traveled across the country on taxpayers’ dime, at a cost of $179,000 an hour, insisting that Congress fix a problem that we were already working on,” Boehner said yesterday at his weekly press conference. “Frankly, I think this is beneath the dignity of the White House.”
He said that both parties knew that the expiration of the rate cut on some Stafford loans was imminent and “fully expected this would be taken care of.”
“And for the president to, to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic,” Boehner said. “And his campaign ought to be reimbursing the treasury for the cost of this trip.”
The White House, while insisting it is properly reimbursing campaign trips, tangled with the media last week over what constitutes a battleground state. “If you look at everyone in the news organizations and all their maps about what states are up for grabs and that kind of stuff, and say the president can’t go to those states, you’re basically saying he can’t go to half the country,” spokesman Jay Carney said.
“Our country’s facing some major economic and fiscal challenges, yet here’s the president wasting time on a fake fight to try to gain his own re-election,” Boehner said. “These are the types of political stunts and, frankly, they aren’t worth it and worthy of his office. This is the biggest job in the world, and I’ve never seen a president make it smaller.”