Obama Tackles Student Loan ‘Crisis’


BUFFALO, New York (AFP) – President Barack Obama put the plight of debt-laden students at the center of coming battles with Republicans on Thursday and his own effort to champion the middle class.

Obama, in his shiny armored bus, set off on a two-day tour of gritty upstate New York and Pennsylvania, trumpeting economic themes that helped him win re-election last year.

The president announced what his aides billed as an “ambitious” plan to tackle often astronomical costs for college tuition, which are outpacing many families.

He proposed measuring college performance through a new ratings system that would help prospective students decide which schools provide the best value.

He called on Congress to tie federal student financial aid to those colleges which provide the best bang for buck.

The ratings, which Obama wants to be in place for the 2015 school year, would calculate ratings on criteria including access, affordability of tuition, the amount of loan debt of students and graduation rates and graduate earnings.

Obama said that a higher education remained the “best ticket to upward mobility in America.”

But he warned that soaring cost of college — in some cases up 250 percent for a four-year course over the last three decades — was pricing many families out.

“We’ve got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt,” Obama said, before an enthusiastic crowd of students at the University of Buffalo.

The speech reunited Obama with one of his most supportive constituencies — students — and the 52-year-old president reminded his audience he only finished paying off his college loans while he was in his 40s.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has estimated that there is nearly one trillion dollars in outstanding college debt in the United States.

In 2011, the average outstanding amount of student loan debt for each graduate was $23,000 dollars.

Obama’s return to his role as champion of the middle classes, a focus-group tested message that worked to great effect last year, comes ahead of looming budget battles with Republicans.

The president and Republicans on Capitol Hill will wage their latest bitter contest over the shape of next year’s budget and a requirement to raise the government’s borrowing limit.

Broadly, Republicans want to maintain steep spending cuts that came into force this year after both sides failed to reach a deficit cutting deal, but to cushion the blow to defense programs.

Obama resists the Republican call for cuts to social programs and wants to bring in new revenue from the wealthiest Americans.

Most of Obama’s economic agenda, including tax hikes, infrastructure spending and job creation programs has repeatedly failed to get through a deadlocked Congress.

A top Republican did not reject Obama’s college plan out of hand, but warned the “devil is in the details.”

“I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage,” said John Kline, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Narcissist Trump Disdained The Wounded And Admired The War Criminal

Former President Donald Trump, Gen. Mark Milley and former Vice President Mike Pence

We’ve long known who Donald Trump is: narcissistic, impressed with authoritarian displays, contemptuous of anyone he sees as low status, a man for whom the highest principle is his own self-interest. It’s still shocking to read new accounts of the moments where he’s most willing to come out and show all that, to not even pretend to be anything but what he is—and holy crap, does The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg have the goods in his new profile of outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley, which focuses on Milley’s efforts to protect the military as a nonpartisan institution under Trump.

Keep reading...Show less
Ben Wikler

Ben Wikler

White House

From Alabama Republicans' blatantly discriminatory congressional map, to the Wisconsin GOP's ousting of a the states' top election official and attempt to impeach a liberal Supreme Court justice, to North Carolina's decision to allow the majority-Republican legislature to appoint state and local election board members, News from the States reports these anti-democratic moves have all recently "generated national headlines" and stoked fears ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}