Obama takes on college costs, eyes young voters

President Barack Obama addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference opening plenary session in Washington, Sunday, March 4, 2012. Obama said Sunday that United States will not hesitate to attack Iran with military force to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he cautioned that 'too much loose talk of war' recently has only helped Tehran and driven up the price of oil. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

AP

President Barack Obama addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference opening plenary session in Washington, Sunday, March 4, 2012. Obama said Sunday that United States will not hesitate to attack Iran with military force to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he cautioned that "too much loose talk of war" recently has only helped Tehran and driven up the price of oil. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

— Wooing young voters, President Barack Obama is on a blitz to keep the cost of college loans from soaring for millions of students, taking his message to three states strategically important to his re-election bid. By taking on student debt, Obama is speaking to middle-class America and targeting an enormous burden that threatens the economic recovery.

Before Obama got his road trip under way, Republican opponent Mitt Romney found a way to steal some thunder from the president's campaign argument: He agreed with it.

The competitors are now on record for freezing the current interest rates on a popular federal loan for poorer and middle-class students. The issue is looming because the rate will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1 without intervention by Congress, an expiration date chosen in 2007 when a Democratic Congress voted to chop the rate in half.

Obama is heading to campuses in the South, West and Midwest to sell his message to colleges audiences bound to support it. As he pressures Republicans in Congress to act, he will also be trying to energize the young people essential to his campaign — those who voted for him last time and the many more who have turned voting age since then.

The president speaks Tuesday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder, and then the University of Iowa on Wednesday. All three universities are in states that Obama carried in 2008, and all three states are considered among the several that could swing to Obama or Romney and help decide a close 2012 election.

Both campaigns are fighting for the support of voters buried in college debt. The national debt amassed on student loans is higher than that for credit cards or auto loans.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has estimated about 15 percent of Americans, or 37 million people, have outstanding student loan debt. The banks put the total at $870 billion, though other estimates have reached $1 trillion. About two-thirds of student loan debt is held by people under 30.

Obama, previewing the message he will give at all three colleges, said over the weekend that allowing the interest rates to double this summer would hurt more than 7 million students. The White House said it would cost students $1,000, based on the average amount borrowed a year ($4,200) and the average time it takes to pay the loan (12 years).

"That would be a tremendous blow," Obama said. "And it's completely preventable."

Romney agreed with that conclusion even in the midst of blasting Obama's economic leadership. "Given the bleak job prospects that young Americans coming out of college face today, I encourage Congress to temporarily extend the low rate," Romney said in a statement.

Obama and Romney are championing what amounts to a one-year, election-year fix at a cost of roughly $6 billion. Congress seems headed that way. Members of both parties are assessing ways to cover the costs and win the votes in the House and Senate, which is far from a political certainty. All parties involved have political incentive to keep the rates as they are.

Obama carried voters between the ages of 18-29 by a margin of about 2-to-1 in 2008, but many recent college graduates have faced high levels of unemployment. That raises concerns for the president about whether they will vote and volunteer for him in such large numbers again.

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Comments » 7

John_Galt writes:

You know what drives up college tuition? GOVERNMENT!

Get the government OUT of it!

mr_1_term_proposition writes:

in response to Patriot_1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You ma'am are a racist ignoramus.

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

in response to Patriot_1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

really? You don't think personal values and beliefs have anything to do with it!!

furball writes:

That is exactly the problem, government got involved.
He can't promise them jobs.
He can promise them debt, decline and a bankrupted government. YIPPIE
Oh I forgot he can promise them that they don't have to pay their college loans back.
If they fall for this one again, then the average college graduate is a moran.

cgbexec writes:

in response to Patriot_1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Call me old fashioned, but I do not vote for what is in my best interest. I vote for what I believe is in the best interest of our Country. Why you ask? The main reason is for my child, the children of my family and friends and their children. I believe our crushing debt and deficit are well on their way to destroying our great Nation. We are at the point now where no government regulation or increase in taxes is going to get us out of this mess. The only way out of this is to grow our economy large enough to pay our debts down to manageable levels. We need to reign in the spending, tighten our belt and allow our system to work as designed. This is not about rich vs. poor. This is about our Government strangling the system and unnecessarily inserting itself into every aspect of our daily lives. Our Federal Government’s job is to keep us safe, protect our boarders, oversee foreign trade and ensure fair trade between our States. Our Federal Government has overgrown its limits under both Republican and Democratic rule. Its reckless overspending while suppressing interest rates and printing money is a dangerous course to take with far reaching consequences we cannot fully realize until it is too late.

furball writes:

Patriot I will say it clearly, you are an idiot. Go smoke some more pot and get in your Prius on your way to an OWS rally.
Is that bias enough? I can say more.
He does not have young people in the bag.
The unemployment for college graduates is 24%.

LexiP writes:

You poor GOP folks! You guys actually believe that stuff they tell you!!! Do you all read, or just absorb all of your information from Rush radio?

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