Full Text Obama Presidency June 10, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks in Q&A with David Karp, CEO of Tumblr on Easing Student Loan Debt

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Q&A with David Karp, CEO of Tumblr

Source: WH, 6-10-14

State Dining Room

4:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Hi.

THE PRESIDENT:  You don’t have to be so formal.  (Laughter.)  Sheesh.  Come on, now.

MR. KARP:  This is unusual.  Thank you.  Thank you, everyone, and welcome to the White House.  Thank you for having us, Mr. President.  I’m David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, and it is my tremendous privilege to be here with President Obama today and joined by the Tumblr community.  Thank you for joining us, everyone.

Yesterday, the President signed an executive order intended to curb the pain of student debt.  Americans now hold more than a trillion dollars in student debt, one of the greatest expenses they’ll incur in their lifetime.  And the generation that’s just reaching college age is beginning to wonder if it’s even worth it.

One-third of Americans who have applied for an education loan this year also happen to use Tumblr, so last week we asked our audience if they had questions that they’d like to ask the President about the cost value and accessibility of higher education — turns out they had quite a few.  We’re not going to be able to get through all of them today, but the President has been kind enough to give us some time at his house to answer some of those questions.  (Laughter.)

So again, huge thank you for making yourself available today.  Anything you’d like to add before we start?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, this is a rental house.  (Laughter.)  I just want to be clear.  My lease runs out in about two and a half years.

Second of all, I want to thank David and the whole Tumblr community for participating in this.  We’re constantly looking for new ways to reach audiences that are relevant to the things we’re talking about.  And, obviously, young people disproportionately use Tumblr.  A lot of Tumblr users are impacted by student debt.  So for you to be able to give us this forum to speak directly to folks is wonderful, and I’m looking forward to a whole bunch of good questions.

MR. KARP:  Thank you.  Okay, so everybody is clear on how the questions work — so since we closed for questions at 5:00 p.m. yesterday, we brought together a team of influential Tumblr bloggers who helped us select some of the best questions.  There are — a few of them, anyway, are joining us in the audience in the State Dining Room here today.  Neither the White House nor the President have seen any of these questions in advance.

Should we get started?

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s go.

MR. KARP:  All right.  So, first came in from Caitlin (ph).  I appreciate your willingness to work with legislators to attempt to retroactively diffuse the cost of some student’s loans by creating new repayment plans, but this seems to me like an attempt to put a band aid on a broken leg.  What are we doing to actually lower the cost of a college degree — excuse me — of college tuition so these loans will no longer be necessary?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s a great question.  Let me give people some context for what’s happened over the last 20, 30 years.

I graduated from college in ’83; graduated from law school in 1990.  And although I went to a private school, through a combination of grants, loans and working I had a fairly low level of debt that I was able to pay in one year without getting an incredibly well-paying job.  I was able to keep my debt burden pretty low.  Folks who were 10 years younger than me, they probably paid even less.  And if you went to a state school at the time, typically people would come out with almost no debt whatsoever.

Today, the average debt burden, even for young people who are going to a public university, is about $30,000.  And that gives you some sense of how much the cost has escalated for the average young person.

Now, you mentioned earlier some people are wondering, is this a good investment.  It absolutely is.  The difference between a college grad and somebody with a high school diploma is about $28,000 a year in income.  So it continues to be a very smart investment for you to go to college.  But we have to find ways to do two things.

One is we have to lower the costs on the front end.  And then, if you do have to supplement whatever you can pay with borrowing, we’ve got to make sure that that is a manageable debt.  And about 12 months ago, maybe 16 months ago, I convened college and university presidents around the country to start working with them on how we could lower debt — or lower tuition, rather.

The main reason that tuition has gone up so much is that state legislatures stopped subsidizing public universities as much as they used to, in part because they started spending money on things like prisons and other activities that I think are less productive.  And so schools then made up for the declining state support by jacking up their tuition rates.

What’s also happened is, is that the costs of things like health care that a university community with a lot of personnel has to shoulder, those costs have gone up faster than wages and incomes.  The combination of those things has made college tuition skyrocket faster than health care costs have.

There are ways we can bring down those costs, and we know that because there are some colleges who have done a very good job in keeping tuition low.  We also have to do a better job of informing students about how to keep their debt down — because, frankly, universities don’t always counsel young people well when they first come in; they say, don’t worry about it, you can pay for it — not realizing that you’re paying for it through borrowing that you’re going to end up having to shoulder once you graduate.

MR. KARP:  What does that help, what does that support look like?  So Chelsea sent in a very similar question from Portland.  So she asks:  “Colleges help students get into debt.  They don’t often help offer financial planning services before school, after they graduate.”

Do you guys have a plan to help students make sound financial decisions?  I mean, these are teenagers who are making decisions sometimes amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars that are going to follow them through their entire lives.  Hopefully, they have parents who can help them navigate those decisions.  But if they don’t, are they on their own?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we are already doing something we call Know What You Owe.  And the idea is to work with every college, university, community college out there so that when you come into school, ideally even before you accept admission from a school, you are given a sense of what your annual loans might be, what your financial package is going to translate into in terms of debt — assuming you go through a four-year degree on schedule, and what your monthly payments are likely to be afterwards.

And so just that one step alone — making sure that schools are obliged to counsel you on the front end when you come in, as opposed to just on the exit interview once you’ve already accumulated the debt — that in and of itself can make a big difference.

MR. KARP:  Understood.  We didn’t get first names for everybody.  So Haiku Moon asks — (laughter) —

THE PRESIDENT:  That might be the first name.  That’s a cool name.  (Laughter.)

MR. KARP:  “It wasn’t until after I graduated college that I realized what I wanted to do with my life.  Now I have a degree that has very little to do with that goal and a mountain of debt.  I can’t help but wonder if I wasn’t pressured to go to college and was better prepared to make that decision, and if I was better prepared to make that decision, that I might be in a better place to pursue my dreams today.  How can we change the public education system to better prepare and support young people making this huge decision?”  I mean, again, teenagers deciding what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, one of the things that Haiku Moon is alluding to is that high school should be a time in which young people have greater exposure to actual careers as opposed to just classroom study.

And I went to a wonderful school in New York called P-TECH, went there for a visit.  What they’ve done is they have collapsed high school basically into a three-year program.  You can then extend for another two years and get an associate’s degree.  IBM is working with them so that if, in fact, they complete the curriculum that IBM helped to design, they know they’ve got a job at IBM on the back end.  And that’s just one example of what I’d like to see a lot more high schools do, which is give young people in high school more hands-on experience, more apprenticeships, more training.

If you are somebody who is interested in graphic design, I’d rather have you work at a company doing graphic design your senior year or junior year to see if you actually like it, to get a sense of the training you need.  You may not need a four-year degree.  You might only need a two-year degree.  You might be able to work while getting that degree.  All that can save you money.  So that can make a really big difference for high school kids.

At the same time, one of the things that we initiated several years back is something called income-based repayments.  And that’s something I really want to focus on, IBR for short — income-based repayments.  What we did in 2011 was to say all student loans going forward, if you have a debt and you decide you want to go into a job that — like teaching or social work, that doesn’t necessarily pay a lot, you shouldn’t be hampered from making that choice just because you’ve got such a significant debt load.  So what we said was that we will cap your repayments of your loans at 10 percent of your income above $18,000.  And by doing that, that gives people flexibility.  It doesn’t eliminate your debt.  But what it does is it makes it manageable each month so that the career that you choose may not be constrained, and we then have additional programs so that if you go into one of the helping professions — public service, law enforcement, social work, teaching — then over time that debt could actually be forgiven.

Now, the problem with it was that we passed this law in 2011; it only applied going forward.  It didn’t apply retroactively.  So yesterday what I did was sign an executive action saying that the Department of Education is going to be developing rules so that going backwards anybody can avail themselves of this income-based repayments, because I get a lot of letters from people who took out loans in 2005 or 2000 — they are also in a situation where they’re making regular payments but it’s very hard for them to make ends meet.  And we want to ideally finish what’s called the rulemaking process — nothing is easy around here — hopefully by the time — say, the end of next year, the rules will be in place, that will be the law, and then everybody and not just folks who borrowed after 2011 can take advantage of that.

But there’s not a lot of knowledge of this, and I hope that the Tumblr community helps to spread the word that this is something already available for loans that you took out after 2011 and hopefully by next year it will be available for people even if you took out your loans before 2011.

MR. KARP:  Where do we find information about it?

THE PRESIDENT:  You should go to whitehouse.gov, the White House website.  It will then link you to ED.gov, which is the Education Department website.  But whitehouse.gov I figure is easier to remember.  (Laughter.)

MR. KARP:  Can you elaborate real quick on encouraging public service?  So Josh from Oak Park sent in a really good question about this:  “The U.S. has a long history of encouraging college-age men and women to give back to their larger communities through organizations like the Peace Corps, through organizations like Teach for America.  Couldn’t we make a larger commitment to that by creating tuition loan forgiveness programs for those students who agree to work in those fields or work in those geographic areas in need of skilled employees?”  So you can imagine family practice doctors, you can imagine public defenders.

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, right now we have some programs like this in place but they’re typically relatively small, relatively specialized.  So there are some loan-forgiveness programs for primary care physicians who are going out to rural communities or inner cities or underserved communities.  There are some programs that are available through the AmeriCorps program for people who are engaged in public service.  They are not as broad-based and widespread as I would like.  And we have tried to work with Congress — so far, unsuccessfully — to be able to get an expansion of these areas.

And let’s take health care as an example.  We know that the population is aging.  We know that we have a severe shortage of primary care physicians.  A lot of young doctors are going into specialized fields like dermatology or plastic surgery because you can make a relatively large profit, you don’t end up having a lot of liability, and that’s not really what we need more of.

And so my hope is, is that over time Congress recognizes that young people are our most precious asset.  There are some areas that we know we need people to get into the field, our best and brightest, and right now the financial burdens are precluding them from doing it.  And we could open up those fields to a huge influx of talent if we were a little smarter with it.

MR. KARP:  So you’ve touched on health care in public service and health care in general.  You talk a lot about STEM fields.  So how do we promote — this is one Orta (sp) asked:  “How can we promote growth in STEM fields without putting humanities on the back burner?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I want to say I was a humanities major.  (Laughter.)  I majored in political science and I minored in English.  And I was pretty good in math, but in high school — I actually loved math and science until I got into high school, and then I misspent those years.  (Laughter.)  And the thing about the humanities was you could kind of talk your way through classes, which you couldn’t do in math and science.  (Laughter.)

So a great liberal arts humanities education is still critically important, because in today’s global economy, one of the most important skills you have is your ability to work with people and communicate clearly and effectively.  Having said that, what is also true is that technology is going to continue to drive innovation.  And just to be a good citizen, you need some background in STEM, and we are not producing enough engineers, enough computer scientists, enough math teachers and science teachers, and enough researchers.

And so I’m putting a big emphasis on STEM in part because we have a shortage; not because I’m privileging one over the other, but because we don’t have as many people going into the STEM fields.  And it starts early.

Part of what we’re trying to do is work with public schools to take away some of the intimidation factor in math and science.  Part of what we’re trying to do is make sure that we are reaching to demographics that are very underrepresented — and, yes, I mean you, women.  Girls are still more likely to be discouraged from pursuing math, science, technology degrees.  You see that imbalance in Silicon Valley, you see it in a lot of high-tech firms.

And so we’re trying to lift up curriculums that are interesting for kids, work with schools in terms of best practices.  One of the things that we’re also discovering is that young people who have an interest in math and science, when they go to college, oftentimes they’re steered into finance because that’s been perceived as the more lucrative option.  And we’re trying to work with universities and departments of engineering, for example, to help mentor young people to understand that — if you look at the top 100 companies in the country, you’ve got a lot more engineers running companies than you do folks who have a finance background.

And so there are great opportunities.  And one of the things that every young person should be thinking about is, A, what’s their passion, what do they care about, but they should also be taking a look at where is there a demand.  And frankly, if you’ve got a science or engineering background, the likelihood of you being unemployed is very low, because there’s always going to be a need — and it doesn’t preclude you from writing a haiku at some point and figuring out some creative outlet.  But having that discipline and that skillset is still going to be invaluable.

MR. KARP:  Well, you just described it as really hard to navigate — again, a teenager making the decision between passion or an industry that’s going to have demand for them.  So great question:  “At this point, I’m stuck between majors.  I know the field I have a passion for has a limited number of jobs, all of which pay very little.  Assuming I get the job, the low income will make it difficult to pay the substantial debt I’ll most likely be in from that education.  There are other fields I know I could succeed in and receive the higher salary, but I’m afraid that one day I’ll realize I hate what I do.”

Question was, how did you decide on your career, and what advice do you have for somebody who is coming up trying to navigate that marketplace with demand or their passions?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well —

MR. KARP:  By the way, one vote for keeping kids out of finance.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Or the law, by the way, because — (laughter) — we have enough lawyers.  Although it’s a fine profession.  (Laughter.)  I can say that because I’m a lawyer.

I think everybody is different.  But I do think that, first of all, when I first got out of school I worked for a year in a job that I wasn’t interested in because I wanted to pay off my loans.

Now, I had the luxury, as I said, that my loan burden was only — was small enough that I could pay it off in a year.  But work is not always fun, and you can’t always follow your bliss right away.  And so I think that young people should be practical.  I know a lot of young people who work for five years in a field that they may not be interested, but it gives them the financial stability and the base from which then to do what they want.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The main advice I would give young people starting off, though, is ultimately you are going to do best at something you care deeply about.  And some people have probably heard this said before, but if you really enjoy what you do, then the line between work and play starts vanishing a little bit.  You still have to grind it out, but you can get into that mindset where the creativity or the effort and the sweat that you’re putting into what you do doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like an expression of what you care about.

And so I think your career is not going to be a straight line all the time.  I think there may be times where you got to take a detour and you got to do something practical to pay the bills.  There are going to be times where you see an opportunity, and you’re making a calculated risk that I’m going to start some wacky company called Tumblr.  (Laughter.)

And how you balance the practical with your highest aspirations is something that will be different for each person.  Everybody is going to have different circumstances.

MR. KARP:  What do you say to kids right now who ask you — they see their passion, they want to build big stuff for the Internet.  They want to build the next big app or the next big social network.  What do you tell them, when they say, hey, look, David, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates, all these guys —

THE PRESIDENT:  Just dropped out of school.

MR. KARP:  — might not necessarily deserve to get a company up, but dropped out of school?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  I mean you wouldn’t know it looking at you, but you’re like LeBron or Durant.  (Laughter.)  I mean, you guys don’t have the same physiques — (laughter) — but there are only going to be so many Zuckerbergs or Gates who are able to short-circuit the traditional path.

If you can, more power to you.  But let me put it this way: Had you not — let’s say Tumblr had been a bust, right?  Or Facebook had just ended up being some dating site that nobody was really interested in.

MR. KARP:  We’d be in a hard place.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, but the truth is also you had the foundation where you could go back to school, right?  I mean, it wasn’t as if you were suddenly operating without a net.  I’m assuming that you would have been readmitted to whatever institution you were in.  And if not, then you would go to another school and you’d do fine.

So the issue is not whether you may not want to take a risk at some point.  The point is that for the average young person an investment in college is always going to be a smart investment.  Making sure you know what it is that you’re investing in is important.

One of the biggest areas where we see a problem is young people who are going, let’s say, to technical schools or community colleges or some of these for-profit universities, they’re promised a lot.  But they haven’t done the research to see, okay, does typically a graduate coming out of one of these schools get a job in the occupation?  Are they actually making money?  If you’re going to have $50,000 worth of debt, you better have factored in what are the employment prospects coming out.

And so I think it’s good for young people — not only good, it’s imperative for young people to be good consumers of education, and don’t just assume that there’s one way of doing things.

We tell our daughters — Malia is now — she’ll be 16 next month, and she’s going to be in the college process.  And we tell her, don’t assume that there are 10 schools that you have to go to, and if you didn’t go to those 10, that somehow things are going to be terrible.  There are a lot of schools out there.  There are a lot of options.  And you should do your research before you decide to exercise one of those options.

Having said that, the overwhelming evidence is that a college education is the surest, clearest path into the middle class for most Americans.

MR. KARP:  Is the White House right now offering any of those tools to be a good a consumer, to navigate all the choices out there?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, yes.  So if you go to whitehouse.gov, which will link you to the Department of Education, one of the things that we’re doing is to — we’re starting to develop a scorecard for colleges and universities so you have just a general sense of what’s the typical graduation rate, what’s the typical debt that you carry once you get out, what is the employment rate for graduates five years afterwards.  And over time, one of the things that we’re trying to do is develop a ranking system that is not exactly the same as the typical college-ranking systems that you see in U.S. News and World Report, for example.

Part of the problem with the traditional ranking systems of schools is that, for example, high cost is actually a bonus in the ranking system.  It indicates prestige, and so there may be some great schools that are expensive, but what you’re missing is a great school that may give you much better value, particularly in the field that you’re in.

Now, there’s some controversy, I want to confess, about — that a lot of colleges and universities say, you know, if you start ranking just based on cost and employability, et cetera, you’re missing the essence of higher education and so forth.  What we’re really trying to do is just identify here are some good bargains, here are some really bad deals.  Then there’s going to be a bunch of schools in the middle that there’s not going to be a huge amount of differentiation.  But what we are trying to do is make sure that students have enough information going into it that they don’t end up in a school that is pretty notorious for piling a lot of debt on their students but not really delivering a great education.

MR. KARP:  Back to the debt, which is top of mind for everybody here today — so Megan (ph) from Tulsa asked an interesting question:  “Of my $220,000 in student loans —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yikes.

MR. KARP:  — from college and law school” — there you go — “less than half is receiving the benefit of loan forgiveness.”  Why is there no discussion on the mounting private student loan debt?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there is a discussion.  The problem is we just end up having less leverage over that.  I mean, the truth is, is that both legislatively and administratively we have some impact on federal loans.  Private loans — if you take — if you go to a private company and you’re taking out a loan, we have the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that is trying to regulate this area and make sure that you have full information about what you’re getting yourself into.  It’s another version of Know Before You Owe.  But it’s harder for us to restructure some of that debt.

Now, one thing that I think is really important for everybody to know here — because this is actual action you can take, as opposed to just listening to me blather on.  This week, there will be a vote in the United States Senate on a bill sponsored by Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts.  And what this bill would do would allow students to refinance their existing loans at today’s rates.  The reason that’s important is because rates have been low, and typically there’s going to be a pretty big spread between the rates that a lot of students — the interest rates that a lot of students have on their debt right now, versus what they could do if they refinanced, the same way that a lot of people refinance their mortgages to take advantage of historically low rates.

And so this vote is coming up.  It will come up this week.  I think everybody on Tumblr should be contacting their senators and finding out where they stand on the issue, because — and, by the way, this is something that will not add to the deficit, because the way we pay for it is we say that we’re going to eliminate some loopholes right now that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower rates of taxes than secretaries and teachers.  And so it would pay for itself.  It’s a good piece of legislation.  It directly affects folks in their 20s and 30s, and in some cases, their 40s and 50s and 60s.  But particularly the young people who use Tumblr, this is something that you should pay a lot of attention to.  Make sure that you are pushing your senators around this issue.

MR. KARP:  Particularly important if you know you’re facing that debt already or you are already today facing that debt.  What’s the best way, though, for people who are — again, they’re thinking about higher education, they’re in school today, and a thoughtful question.  What is the best way for students to have a voice in their own education?  So much education today, I think really — I don’t know, I mean, so many teenagers who feel like education is happening to them.  They’re going through the motions.  They know that this is what they’re supposed to do, and so they follow along.  How do we make sure kids are driving?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, at some point it’s going to be up to the young person to drive that education.  It’s not inevitable that you just fasten your seatbelt and just go on a ride for four years or two years or whatever it is.  I mean, I have to say that in my own college experience, I think the first two years I was there thinking I’m just happy to be here and I’m having fun and I’ll just sort of go through the motions.  My last two years was when I really became much more serious about what I was doing and much more intentional about what I was doing.

Too many young people see — and I’m grossly generalizing now, so excuse me — but I use myself as an example as well.  I think too many of us see college as a box to check or a place to have fun and extend adolescence, as opposed to a opportunity for each of us to figure out what is it that we’re good at, what is it that we care about, what is it that we’re willing to invest a lot of time and effort and energy into, how do we hone some skills or interests or attributes that we already have.  And as a consequence, I think young people waste a lot of time in school.

Now, again, I’m generalizing, because there are a whole bunch of folks who are working while going to school, while helping out their parents — in some cases, they’re already parents themselves.  And so everything I just said does not apply to you.  It’s interesting — one of the reasons I think I did well in law school was because I had worked for three and a half years so that by the time I got to law school I actually knew why I was studying the law, and I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of it — not to mention the fact that the idea of just going to class for three hours a day and then reading didn’t seem particularly oppressive to me, whereas young people who had come straight out of college thought, this is horrible.  Try working for a while and then you realize that this is a pretty good deal.  (Laughter.)

But I think that part of what we as adults have to do goes back to what I said about high schools.  Education is not a passive thing.  You don’t tip your head and somebody pours it into your ear.  It is an active process of you figuring out the world and your place in it.  And the earlier we can help young people — not lock them in.  Look, nobody expects that somebody who is 16 automatically knows exactly what they want to do, and people may change their minds repeatedly.  But what we can do is expose young people to enough actual work and occupations that they start getting a feel for what they would be interested in.  And I really want to work with more school districts, and I’ve asked the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to work with more school districts, and we’re actually giving grants to school districts that are thinking creatively about how high school can be used more effectively.

I don’t want a young person who knows that they want to go into the trades to just waste four years of high school and then they’ve got to go through two years of apprenticeship and classwork before they become a contractor.  I’d rather have them doing contracting while also getting some other educational exposure so that they’re getting a jump on the things that they want to do.  And they can save a lot of money in the process.

MR. KARP:  So Beth asked a question close to that point.  Instead of pushing all students into college, shouldn’t we focus on the other side — increasing the minimum wage and making it viable, livable to enter the workforce straight out of high school?  Should we be doing both?

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  Well, here is what I would say:  There are very few jobs now where you’re not going to need some advanced training.  One of the great things about being President is I get to visit companies and worksites and factories.  And if you go into the average auto company today, for example, first of all, it’s not at all what you’d imagine — it is spotless and it is quiet, and it is humming, because it is all mechanized and computerized at this point.  And even if you have a four-football-field-sized assembly line, most of the people there are working with machines and they’re working on computer keyboards.

So having some basic training in math, some familiarity with computers, some familiarity with programming and code — all that is a huge advantage if you are trying to get a job on an assembly line.  Now, if that’s true for assembly line work, that’s certainly going to be true for any other trade that you’re interested in.

We do have to do a better job of giving young people who are interested an effective vocational education.  And there are tons of opportunities out there for people — here’s an interesting statistic:  The average trade person in Wisconsin — and what I mean by that is an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a machine tool worker — the average age in Wisconsin is 59 years old.  Now, these jobs typically pay 25, 30 bucks an hour, potentially, with benefits.  You can make a really good living doing that, and there are a lot of folks who love doing it.  It’s really interesting work and highly skilled work.

So I don’t want somebody to find out about that when they’re 30, after they’ve already taken a bunch of classes and stuff that they ended up not using; now they’ve got a bunch of debt.  I’d rather, if they got that inclination, to figure that early and be able to go straight into something that helps them get that job.

MR. KARP:  So one question we heard a lot from our community that I wanted to make sure to mention today:  Recently — I think you’ve been following — the Department of Ed’s Office of Civil Rights and DOJ have extended Title IX protections to trans students.  What do you see as the next steps to ensure equal treatment of trans people in schools in America?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Title IX is a powerful tool.  It’s interesting — yesterday I had the University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball teams here.  This is only the second time that the men’s and women’s basketball teams won the national championship in the same year.  The previous year was 2004, and it was UConn again.

But what was interesting about it is that the men were kind of a surprise.  It was nice.  The women were dominant.  I mean, the UConn Husky women’s program, they rule.  And they are incredible athletes.  And talking to these young women, they’re poised and they’re beautiful, and some of them are 6’6” and they’re wearing high heels, and supremely confident and competitive.  And that’s a huge shift from even 20 years ago or 30 years ago.  The reason for that was Title IX was applied vigorously in schools, and it gave opportunities — it’s not like women suddenly became athletes.  They were athletic before.  Michelle, when I work out with her, she puts me to shame.  (Laughter.)  But it had more to do with restrictions and opportunity.

So the point I’m making is, is that Title IX is a very powerful tool.  The fact that we are applying it to transgender students means that they are going to be in a position to assert their rights if and when they see that they are being discriminated on their college campuses.  And that could manifest itself in a whole variety of ways.

MR. KARP:  Brilliant.  This one was sent in a few days ago:  “Mr. President, my name is Nick Dineen, and I attend school at the University of California-Santa Barbara.  I was the RA for the floor that George Chen lived on last year as a first-year college student.  I knew him.  Elliot Rodger killed him and five more of my fellow students.  Today, another man has shot and killed at least one person and injured three others at a private Christian school in Seattle.  What are you going to do?  What can we all do?”  And of course, another mass shooting this morning.

THE PRESIDENT:  I have to say that people often ask me how has it been being President, and what am I proudest of and what are my biggest disappointments.  And I’ve got two and a half years left.  My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage.

We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens.  And it happens now once a week.  And it’s a one-day story.  There’s no place else like this.  A couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting similar to Columbine or Newtown.  And Australia just said, well, that’s it — we’re not seeing that again.  And basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws.  And they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

Our levels of gun violence are off the charts.  There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.  Now, we have a different tradition.  We have a Second Amendment.  We have historically respected gun rights.  I respect gun rights.  But the idea that, for example, we couldn’t even get a background check bill in to make sure that if you’re going to buy a weapon you have to actually go through a fairly rigorous process so that we know who you are, so you can’t just walk up to a store and buy a semiautomatic weapon — it makes no sense.

And I don’t know if anybody saw the brief press conference from the father of the young man who had been killed at Santa Barbara.  And as a father myself, I just could not understand the pain he must be going through and just the primal scream that he gave out — why aren’t we doing something about this?

And I will tell you, I have been in Washington for a while now and most things don’t surprise me.  The fact that 20 six-year-olds were gunned down in the most violent fashion possible and this town couldn’t do anything about it was stunning to me.  And so the question then becomes what can we do about it.  The only thing that is going to change is public opinion.  If public opinion does not demand change in Congress, it will not change.  I’ve initiated over 20 executive actions to try to tighten up some of the rules in the laws, but the bottom line is, is that we don’t have enough tools right now to really make as big of a dent as we need to.

And most members of Congress — and I have to say, to some degree, this is bipartisan — are terrified of the NRA.  The combination of the NRA and gun manufacturers are very well financed and have the capacity to move votes in local elections and congressional elections.  And so if you’re running for office right now, that’s where you feel the heat.  And people on the other side may be generally favorable towards things like background checks and other commonsense rules but they’re not as motivated.  So that’s not — that doesn’t end up being the issue that a lot of you vote on.

And until that changes, until there is a fundamental shift in public opinion in which people say, enough, this is not acceptable, this is not normal, this isn’t sort of the price we should be paying for our freedom, that we can have respect for the Second Amendment and responsible gun owners and sportsmen and hunters can have the ability to possess weapons but that we are going to put some commonsense rules in place that make a dent, at least, in what’s happening — until that is not just the majority of you — because that’s already the majority of you, even the majority of gun owners believe that.  But until that’s a view that people feel passionately about and are willing to go after folks who don’t vote reflecting those values, until that happens, sadly, not that much is going to change.

The last thing I’ll say:  A lot of people will say that, well, this is a mental health problem, it’s not a gun problem.  The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people.  (Laughter.)  It’s not the only country that has psychosis.  And yet, we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than anyplace else.  Well, what’s the difference?  The difference is, is that these guys can stack up a bunch of ammunition in their houses and that’s sort of par for the course.

So the country has to do some soul searching about this.  This is becoming the norm, and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me.  And I am prepared to work with anybody, including responsible sportsmen and gun owners, to craft some solutions.  But right now, it’s not even possible to get even the mildest restrictions through Congress, and we should be ashamed of that.

MR. KARP:  Thank you for taking the time to answer that one.  Obviously an incredibly difficult and disappointing conversation to have.

It looks like we have time for one more question, so let’s switch over to a lighter one.  There are plenty of young people out there today who are watching your career incredibly closely.  They’re thinking about their futures, their careers, their educations that they’re going off to pursue.  Astonishment asked, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I haven’t projected out 10 years.  I’m really focused on making sure that I make every day in the next two and a half years count, because it’s an incredible privilege to be in this office.  And even when I’m frustrated with Congress or I’m frustrated with the press and how it’s reporting things and Washington generally, I also know that there’s something I can do every single day that’s helping somebody and that sometimes without a lot of fanfare we’re making it easier for a business to get a loan, and we’re making it easier for a young person to get an education, and we’re making it easier for a family to get health care, and making sure that each day I come away with something that we’ve done to make it a little easier for folks to work their way into the middle class, to stay in the middle class, to save for retirement, to finance their kids’ college educations — that’s a good day for me.

I know what I’ll do right after the next President is inaugurated.  I’ll be on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut.  (Laughter.)  But that probably won’t last too long.

And one of the things that Michelle and I have talked about a lot is we’re really interested in developing young people and working with them and creating more institutions to promote young leadership.  I’m so impressed when I meet young people around the country.  They’re full of passion.  They’re full of ideas.  I think they’re much wiser and smarter than I was, part of it maybe is because of Tumblr — I don’t know.  (Laughter.)

And so there’s just huge potential.  And the challenge is they’re also fed a lot of cynicism.  You guys are fed a lot of cynicism every single day about how nothing works and big institutions stink and government is broken.  And so you channel a lot of your passion and energy into various private endeavors.

But this country has always been built both through an individual initiative, but also a sense of some common purpose.  And if there’s one message I want to deliver to young people like a Tumblr audience is, don’t get cynical.  Guard against cynicism.  I mean, the truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be — if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you’d choose this time.  The world is less violent than it has ever been.  It is healthier than it has ever been.  It is more tolerant than it has ever been.  It is better fed then it’s ever been.  It is more educated than it’s ever been.

Terrible things happen around the world every single day, but the trend lines of progress are unmistakable.  And the reason is, is because each successive generation tries to learn from previous mistakes and pushes the course of history in a better direction.  And the only thing that stops that is if people start thinking that they don’t make a difference and they can’t make changes.  And that’s fed in our culture all the time.

It’s fascinating to me — I don’t consume a lot of television, but generally, the culture right now is inherently in a cynical mood in part because we went through a big trauma back in 2007, 2008 with the financial crisis, and we went through a decade of wars that were really tough.  And that’s the era in which you were born.

But look out on the horizon, and there’s a lot of opportunity out there.  And that’s what I’d like to do after the presidency, is make sure that I help young people guard against cynicism and do the remarkable things they can do.

MR. KARP:  Beautiful.  Mr. President, thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions today, really.

THE PRESIDENT:  We had a great time.

MR. KARP:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Appreciate it.  It was great.  Thank you.

MR. KARP:  Was that okay?  I’ve never talked to a President before.

THE PRESIDENT:  He’s a natural.  He could have gone into journalism.

MR. KARP:  I’ve never talked to a President before.  Thank you so much.  Hey, real quick, guys, before we go, I would really like to thank the President for having us over to his rental property today.  (Laughter.)  It really does mean a lot to our community to know that America’s leader is listening to us.  I hope we’ve all come away with a clear picture as to the issues that we’re facing.  Please make sure to follow WhiteHouse.tumblr.com.  And lastly, please wish — excuse me — Sasha a happy 13th birthday from us.

THE PRESIDENT:  It is Sasha’s birthday today.  (Applause.)

MR. KARP:  Now that’s she’s 13, guys — (applause) — now that she’s 13, according to our terms of service, she’s officially old enough to use Tumblr.  (Laughter.)  Let us know.

THE PRESIDENT:  So she wasn’t before then?  (Laughter.)

MR. KARP:  She wasn’t.  Sorry.  We can let this one slide.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m going to have to talk to somebody about that.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, guys.  Had a great time.  (Applause.)

END
5:10 P.M. EDT

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Full Text Obama Presidency June 9, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Executive Order Signing Easing Student Loan Debt

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Opportunity for All: Making College More Affordable

Source: WH, 6-9-14

1:51 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Everybody have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  And I want to thank Andy for the terrific introduction.  And this is commencement season, and it’s always a hopeful and exciting time, and I’ll bet we might have some folks who just graduated here today.  Raise your hands.  Let’s see — yes, we’ve got a couple of folks who are feeling pretty good.  (Laughter.)

Of course, once the glow wears off, this can be a stressful time for millions of students.  And they’re asking themselves, how on Earth am I going to pay off all these student loans?  And that’s what we’re here to talk about.  And Andy I think gave a vivid example of what’s going through the minds of so many young people who have the drive and the energy and have succeeded in everything that they do but because of family circumstances have found themselves in a situation where they’ve got significant debt.

Now, we know, all of you know, that in a 21st century economy, a higher education is the single best investment that you can make in yourselves and your future, and we’ve got to make sure that investment pays off.

And here’s why:  For 51 months in a row, our businesses have created new jobs — 9.4 million new jobs in total.  And over the last year, we’ve averaged around 200,000 new jobs every month.  That’s the good news.  But while those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged.  And there are too many Americans out there that are working harder and harder just to get by.

Everything I do is aimed towards reversing those trends that put a greater burden on the middle class and are diminishing the number of ladders to get into the middle class, because the central tenet of my presidency, partly because of the story of my life and Michelle’s life, is this is a country where opportunity should be available for anybody — the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, how you were raised, who you love, if you’re willing to work hard, if you’re willing to live up to your responsibilities, you can make it here in America.

And in America, higher education opens the doors of opportunity for all.  And it doesn’t have to be a four-year college education.  We’ve got community colleges, we’ve got technical schools, but we know that some higher education, some additional skills is going to be your surest path to the middle class.  The typical American with a bachelor’s degree or higher earns over $28,000 more per year than somebody with just a high school education — 28 grand a year.  And right now, the unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree is about half of what it is for folks with just a high school education.

So you know that this is a smart investment.  Your parents know this is a smart investment.  That’s why so many of them made such big sacrifices to make sure that you could get into college, and nagged you throughout your high school years.  (Laughter.)

Here’s the problem:  At a time when higher education has never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive.  Over the last three decades, the average tuition at a public university has more than tripled.  At the same time, the typical family’s income has gone up just 16 percent.

Michelle and I both went to college because of loans and grants and the work that we did.   But I’ll be honest with you — now, I’m old, I’ve got to admit — (laughter) — but when I got out of school, it took me about a year to pay off my entire undergraduate education.  That was it.  And I went to a private school; I didn’t even go to a public school.  So as recently as the ‘70s, the ‘80s, when you made a commitment to college, you weren’t anticipating that you’d have this massive debt on the back end.

Now, when I went to law school it was a different story.  But that made sense because the idea was if you got a professional degree like a law degree, you would probably be able to pay it off.  And so I didn’t feel sorry for myself or any lawyers who took on law school debt.

But compare that experience just half a generation, a generation ago to what kids are going through now.  These rising costs have left middle-class families feeling trapped.  Let’s be honest:  Families at the top, they can easily save more than enough money to pay for school out of pocket.  Families at the bottom face a lot of obstacles, but they can turn to federal programs designed to help them handle costs.  But you’ve got a lot of middle-class families who can’t build up enough savings, don’t qualify for support, feel like nobody is looking out for them.  And as Andy just described vividly, heaven forbid that the equity in their home gets used up for some other family emergency, or, as we saw in 2008, suddenly home values sink, and then people feel like they’re left in the lurch.

So I’m only here because this country gave me a chance through education.  We are here today because we believe that in America, no hardworking young person should be priced out of a higher education.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of young people willing to work for it.  I mentioned my generation, but think about my grandfather’s generation.  I just came back from Normandy, where we celebrated D-Day.  When that generation of young people came back from World War II, at least the men, my grandfather was able to go to college on the GI Bill.  And that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known.

Grants helped my mother raise two kids by herself while she got through school.  And she didn’t have $75,000 worth of debt, and she was raising two kids at the same time.  Neither Michelle or I came from a lot of money, but with hard work, and help from scholarships and student loans, we got to go to great schools.  We did not have this kind of burden that we’re seeing, at least at the undergraduate stages.  As I said, because of law school, we only finished paying off our own student loans just 10 years ago.  So we know what many of you are going through or look forward — or don’t look forward to.  (Laughter.)  And we were doing it at the same time — we already had to start saving for Malia and Sasha’s education.

But this is why I feel so strongly about this.  This is why I’m passionate about it.  That’s why we took on a student loan system that basically gave away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks.  We said, let’s cut out the middle man.  Banks should be making a profit on what they do, but not off the backs of students.  We reformed it; more money went directly to students.  We expanded grants for low-income students through the Pell grant program.  We created a new tuition tax credit for middle-class families.  We offered millions of young people the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income — that’s what Andy was referring to.  Michelle right now is working with students to help them “Reach Higher,” and overcome the obstacles that stand between them and graduation.  This is something we are deeply invested in.

But as long as college costs keep soaring, we can’t just keep throwing money at the problem.  We’re going to have to initiate reforms from the colleges themselves.  States have to invest more in higher education.  Historically, the reason we had such a great public education system, public higher education system was states understood we will benefit if we invest in higher education.  And somewhere along the line, they started thinking, we’ve got to invest more in prisons than we do in higher education.  And part of the reason that tuition has been jacked up year after year after year is state legislators are not prioritizing this.  They’re passing the costs onto taxpayers.  It’s not sustainable.

So that’s why I laid out a plan to shake up our higher education system and encourage colleges to finally bring down college costs.  And I proposed new rules to make sure for-profit colleges keep their promises and train students with the skills for today’s jobs without saddling them with debt.  Too many of these for-profit colleges — some do a fine job, but many of them recruit kids in, the kids don’t graduate, but they’re left with the debt.  And if they do graduate, too often they don’t have the marketable skills they need to get the job that allows them to service the debt.

None of these fights have been easy.  All of them have been worth it.  You’ve got some outstanding members of Congress right here who have been fighting right alongside us to make sure that we are giving you a fair shake.  And the good news is, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  And that’s something we should be proud of, and that’s something we should celebrate.

But more of them are graduating with debt.  Despite everything we’re doing, we’re still seeing too big a debt load on too many young people.  A large majority of today’s college seniors have taken out loans to pay for school.  The average borrower at a four-year college owes nearly $30,000 by graduation day.  Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards.  And the outrage here is that they’re just doing what they’ve been told they’re supposed to do.  I can’t tell you how many letters I get from people who say I did everything I was supposed to and now I’m finding myself in a situation where I’ve got debts I can’t pay off, and I want to pay them off, and I’m working really hard, but I just can’t make ends meet.

If somebody plays by the rules, they shouldn’t be punished for it.  A young woman named Ashley, in Santa Fe, wrote me a letter a few months ago.  And Ashley wanted me to know that she’s young, she’s ambitious, she’s proud of the degree she earned.  And she said, “I am the future” — she put “am” in capital letters so that I’d know she means business.  (Laughter.)  And she told me that because of her student loan debt, she’s worried she’ll never be able to buy a car or a house.  She wrote, “I’m not even 30, and I’ve given up on my future because I can’t afford to have one.”  I wrote her back and said it’s a little early in your 20s to give up.  (Laughter.)  So I’m sure Ashley was trying to make a point, but it’s a point that all of us need to pay attention to.  In America, no young person who works hard and plays by the rules should feel that way.

Now, I’ve made it clear that I want to work with Congress on this issue.  Unfortunately, a generation of young people can’t afford to wait for Congress to get going.  The members of Congress who are here are working very hard and putting forward legislation to try to make this stuff happen, but they have not gotten some of the support that they need.  In this year of action, wherever I’ve seen ways I can act on my own to expand opportunity to more Americans, I have.  And today, I’m going to take three actions to help more young people pay off their student loan debt.

Number one, I’m directing our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to give more Americans who are already making their loan payments a chance to cap those payments at 10 percent of their income.  We call it “Pay As You Earn.”  We know it works, because we’ve already offered it to millions of young people.  It’s saving folks like Andy hundreds of dollars potentially every month. It’s giving graduates the opportunity to pursue the dreams that inspired them to go to school in the first place, and that’s good for everybody.  And we want more young people to start their own businesses.  We want more young people becoming teachers and nurses and social workers.  We want young people to be in a position to pursue their dreams.  And we want more young people who act responsibly to be able to manage their debt over time.  So we’re announcing steps that will open up “Pay As You Earn” to nearly 5 million more Americans.  That’s the first action we’re taking today.

The second action is to renegotiate contracts with private companies like Sallie Mae that service our student loans.  And we’re going to make it clear that these companies are in the business of helping students, not just collecting payments, and they owe young people the customer service, and support, and financial flexibility that they deserve.  That’s number two.

Number three — we’re doing more to help every borrower know all the options that are out there, so that they can pick the one that’s right for them.  So we’re going to work with the teachers’ associations, and the nurses’ associations, with business groups; with the YMCA, and non-profits and companies like TurboTax and H&R Block.  And tomorrow, I’m going to do a student loan Q&A with Tumblr to help spread the word — you’re laughing because you think, what does he know about Tumblr?  (Laughter.)  But you will recall that I have two teenage daughters so that I am hip to all these things.  (Laughter.)  Plus I have all these twenty-somethings who are working for me all the time.  (Laughter.)

But to give even more student borrowers the chance to save money requires action from Congress.  I’m going to be signing this executive order.  It’s going to make progress, but not enough.  We need more.  We’ve got to have Congress to make some progress.  Now, the good news is, as I said, there are some folks in Congress who want to do it.  There are folks here like Jim Clyburn, John Tierney, who are helping lead this fight in the House.  We’ve got Elizabeth Warren, who’s leading this fight in the Senate.  Elizabeth has written a bill that would let students refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, just like their parents can refinance a mortgage.  It pays for itself by closing loopholes that allow some millionaires to pay a lower tax rate than middle-class families.

I don’t know, by the way, why folks aren’t more outraged about this.  I’m going to take a pause out of my prepared text.  You would think that if somebody like me has done really well in part because the country has invested in them, that they wouldn’t mind at least paying the same rate as a teacher or a nurse.  There’s not a good economic argument for it, that they should pay a lower rate.  It’s just clout, that’s all.  So it’s bad enough that that’s already happening.  It would be scandalous if we allowed those kinds of tax loopholes for the very, very fortunate to survive while students are having trouble just getting started in their lives.

So you’ve got a pretty straightforward bill here.  And this week, Congress will vote on that bill.  And I want Americans to pay attention to see where their lawmakers’ priorities lie here:  lower tax bills for millionaires, or lower student loan bills for the middle class.

This should be a no-brainer.  You’ve got a group of far-right Republicans in Congress who push this trickle-down economic plan, telling hard-working students and families, “You’re on your own.”  Two years ago, Republicans in Congress nearly let student loan interest rates double for 7 million young people.  Last year, they tried to strip protections from lower-income students.  This year, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to slash Pell grants and make it harder for thousands of families to afford college.  If you’re a big oil company, they’ll go to bat for you.  If you’re a student, good luck.

Some of these Republicans in Congress seem to believe that it’s just because — that just because some of the young people behind me need some help, that they’re not trying hard enough.  They don’t get it.  Maybe they need to talk to Andy.  These students worked hard to get where they are today.

Shanelle Roberson — where is Shanelle?  Shanelle is the first in her family to graduate from a four-year college.  (Applause.)  Shanelle is not asking for a handout, none of these folks are.  They’re working hard.  They’re working while they’re going to school.  They’re doing exactly what we told them they should do.  But they want a chance.  If they do exactly what they’re told they should do, that they’re not suddenly loaded up where they’ve got so much debt that they can’t buy a house, they can’t think about starting a family, they can’t imagine starting a business on their own.

I’ve been in politics long enough to hear plenty of people, from both parties, pay lip service to the next generation, and then they abandon them when it counts.  And we, the voters, let it happen.  This is something that should be really straightforward, just like the minimum wage should be straightforward, just like equal pay for equal work should be straightforward.  And one of the things I want all the voters out there to consider, particularly parents who are struggling trying to figure out how am I going to pay my kid’s college education, take a look and see who is that’s fighting for you and your kids, and who is it that’s not.  Because if there are no consequences, then this kind of irresponsible behavior continues on the part of members of Congress.

So I ran for this office to help more young people go to college, graduate, and pay off their debt.  And we’ve made some really good progress despite the best efforts of some in Congress to block that progress.  Think about how much more we could do if they were not standing in the way.

This week, they have a chance to help millions of young people.  I hope they do.  You should let them know you are watching and paying attention to what they do.  If they do not look out for you, and then throw up a whole bunch of arguments that are meant to obfuscate — meaning confuse, rather than to clarify and illuminate — (laughter) — then you should call them to account.  And in the meantime, I’m going to take these actions today on behalf of all these young people here, and every striving young American who shares my belief that this is a place where you can still make it if you try.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.

END
2:12 P.M. EDT

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Political Musings June 9, 2014: Obama to sign executive order lifting student loan debt load support Senate bill

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

After nearly three weeks focusing on foreign policy, President Barack Obama returned to domestic policy and his economic opportunity program in his weekly address released on Saturday morning, June 7, 2014 where Obama discussed college affordability. Obama promised in his…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 9, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Student Loans Bill Signing Ceremony in the Oval Office

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Student Loans Bill Signing

Source: WH, 8-9-13

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 1911, the "Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013" President Barack Obama signs H.R. 1911, the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013,” during a ceremony in the Oval Office, Aug. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Obama signs the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013

Oval Office
2:21 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, before I sign this, I just want to say thank you to this extraordinary coalition that helped make this signing possible.  I want to thank Chairman Kline, all the members of both House and Senate from both parties that came together to design a sensible, common-sense approach to keeping student interest rates at a reasonable level so that young people have a better opportunity to go to college, get the education that they need not only to better their own lives but also to strengthen the country’s economy.
And I want to thank the advocates, including some of the young people I suspect will be benefiting from lower student loans — or lower student loan interest rates — because without their voice, without their participation, we probably would not have gotten this bill done.
Last point I’ll make, and I suspect the Senators and Congressmen behind me will agree with this, even though we’ve been able to stabilize the interest rates on student loans, our job is not done, because the cost of college remains extraordinarily high.  It’s out of reach for a lot of folks, and for those who do end up attending college, the amount of debt that young people are coming out of school with is a huge burden on them; it’s a burden on their families.  It makes it more difficult for them to buy a home.  It makes it more difficult for them if they want to start a business.  It has a depressive effect on the economy overall.  And we’ve got to do something about it.
So I’m going to be looking forward to engaging this same coalition to see if we can continue to take additional steps to reform our higher education system, and I’ll have some more things to say about that in the weeks to come.
But for now, I want to celebrate what we accomplished here, and again, thank everybody here for their leadership in getting it done.
(The bill is signed.)
Those of you who haven’t seen me do this before — (laughter) — it is a real art form.  (Laughter.)
SENATOR DURBIN:  Thank you, Mr. President — I remember the 90-minute seminar in this office.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  It was very interesting.  (Laughter.)
It feels good signing bills — I haven’t done this in a while.  (Laughter.)  Hint, hint.  Hint, hint.  (Laughter.)
SENATOR DURBIN:  How about a budget, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.  That’s what I’m talking about.  (Laughter.)
All right, thank you, everybody.
END
2:25 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines June 8, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Indiana Rep. Luke Messer on Student Loans

GOP Address: Indiana Rep. Luke Messer on Student Loans

Source: WH, 6-8-13

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

In this week’s GOP address, Indiana Rep. Luke Messer spoke of the importance of preventing a rate hike for federal student loans.

“What makes this country great is that my story is not exceptional,” he continued. “Every year, millions of American students see their career dreams begin with the help of federal student financial aid.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “in just three weeks, on July 1st, interest rates on many federal student loans are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 31, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Urging Congress to Prevent Student Loan Interest Rates from Rising in the White House Rose Garden

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

If Congress Doesn’t Act, Rates for New Federal Student Loans Will Double

]Source: WH, 5-31-13

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on student loansPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on student loans in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 31, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

This morning, when President Obama called on Congress to prevent federal student loan rates from doubling on July 1, he returned to a familiar theme.

A year ago, we were in the same place — just a few weeks out from seeing the average student with these loans racking up an additional $1,000 in debt.

So speaking from the Rose Garden, the President asked the students and young people in attendance to speak out in favor of action on college affordability, just as they did in 2012….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

Source: WH, 5-31-13

Rose Garden

10:26 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Have a seat.  Have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.  I know it’s a little warm.  (Laughter.)

One of my favorite things about this job is that I get to spend some time with remarkable young people from all across the country.  It inspires me.  It makes me feel good.  Those of you who have had to put on suits and ties and show up at the White House first thing on a Friday morning may not feel the same way I do — (laughter) — but I appreciate all of you being here.  You cleaned up very well.

And these students and graduates are here to talk about something that matters to millions of young people and their families, and that’s the cost of a college education.  Because this isn’t just critical for their futures, but it’s also critical for America’s future.

Over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from a financial crisis and an incredibly punishing recession — the worst since the Great Depression — and it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes, the sense of security that they’d spent their lives building up.

The good news is, today, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months.  500,000 of those jobs are in manufacturing.  We’re producing more of our own energy, we’re consuming less energy, and we’re importing less from other countries.  The housing market is coming back.  The stock market has rebounded.  Our deficits are shrinking at the fastest pace in 50 years.  People’s retirement savings are growing again.  The rise of health care costs are slowing.  The American auto industry is back.

So we’re seeing progress, and the economy is starting to pick up steam.  The gears are starting to turn again, and we’re getting some traction.  But the thing is, the way we measure our progress as a country is not just where the stock market is; it’s not just to how well the folks at the top are doing; it’s not just about the aggregate economic numbers.  It’s about how much progress ordinary families are making.  Are we creating ladders of opportunity for everybody who’s willing to work hard?  Are we creating not only a growing economy, but also the engine that is critical to long-lasting, sustained economic growth — and that is a rising, thriving middle class.  That’s our focus.  That’s what we’ve got to be concerned about every single day.  That’s our North Star.

And that means there are three questions we have to ask ourselves as a nation.  Number one:  How do we make America a magnet for good jobs in this competitive 21st century economy?  Number two:  How do we make sure that our workers earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs?  And number three:  How do we make sure those jobs actually pay a decent wage or salary, so that people can save for retirement, send their kids to college?

Those are the questions we’ve got to be asking ourselves every single day.  So we’re here today to talk about that second question.  How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need to do the jobs that companies are hiring for right now, and are going to keep hiring for in the future?  We know that the surest path to the middle class is some form of higher education — a four-year degree, a community college degree, an advanced degree.  You’re going to need more than just a high school education to succeed in this economy.

And the young people here today, they get that.  They’re working through college; maybe just graduated.  And earning their degree isn’t just the best investment that they can make for their future — it’s the best investment that they can make in America’s future.

But like a lot of young people all across the country, these students have had to take on more and more and more debt to pay for this investment.  Since most of today’s college students were born, tuition and fees at public universities have more than doubled.  And these days, the average student who takes out loans to pay for four years of college graduates owing more than $26,000.  How many people are on track here for $26,000?

And that doesn’t just hold back our young graduates.  It holds back our entire middle class, because Americans now owe more on our student loans than we do on our credit cards.  And those payments can last for years, even decades, which means that young people are putting off buying their first car, or their first house — the things that grow our economy and create new jobs.  And I’ve said this before, I know this firsthand — Michelle and I, we did not finish paying off our student loans until about nine years ago.  And our student loans cost more than our mortgage.  Right when we wanted to start saving for Sasha and Malia’s college education, we were still paying off our own college education.

And we were lucky.  We had more resources than many.  So we cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class out of a college education.  We can’t keep saddling young people with more and more and more debt just as they’re starting out in life.

Now, the good news is over the past four years, my administration has done a lot to address this.  Working with members of Congress, we’ve expanded student aid.  We’ve reformed the student loan system.  We’ve saved tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that were just going to big banks, and made sure that the money went to helping more young people afford college.

We made it easier to pay back those loans by passing a law that says you’ll only have to pay 10 percent of your monthly income towards your student — federal student loans once you graduate.  This is important to emphasize, by the way, because a lot of your peers, a lot of young people don’t know this.  Under existing law that we passed, you never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in paying back your federal student loans, which means if you want to be a teacher, you want to go into a profession that does not pay a lot of money but gives you a lot of satisfaction, you are still capable of doing that and supporting yourself.

We unveiled a new college scorecard that gives parents and students the clear, concise information that you need to shop around for a school with the best value for you.  And I’ve made it clear that those colleges that don’t do enough to keep college costs down should get less taxpayer support.

So we’re doing what we can, but here’s the thing:  If Congress doesn’t act by July 1st, federal student loan rates are set to double.  And that means that the average student with those loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  That’s like a $1,000 tax hike.  I assume most of you cannot afford that.  Anybody here can afford that?  No.

Now, if this sounds like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is.  We went through this last summer.  Some of you were here.  It wasn’t as hot.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think we did this event outside.  (Laughter.)  But we went through this.  And eventually, Congress listened to all the parents and young people who said “don’t double my rate.”  And because folks made their voices heard, Congress acted to keep interest rates low.  But they only did it for a year and that year is almost up.

So the test here is simple.  We’ve got to make sure that federal student loan rates don’t double on July 1st.  Now, the House of Representatives has already passed a student loan bill, and I’m glad that they took action.  But unfortunately, their bill does not meet that test.  It fails to lock in low rates for students next year.  That’s not smart.  It eliminates safeguards for lower-income families.  That’s not fair.  It could actually cost a freshman starting school this fall more over the next four years than if we did nothing at all and let the interest rates double on July 1st.

So the House bill isn’t smart and it’s not fair.  I’m glad the House is paying attention to it, but they didn’t do it in the right way.  So I’m asking young people to get involved and make your voices heard once again.  Last year, you convinced 186 Republicans in the House and 24 Republicans in the Senate to work with Democrats to keep student loan rates low.  You made something bipartisan happen in this town that is — that’s a powerful thing.  You guys were able to get Democrats and Republicans to vote for something that was important.

So this year, if it looks like your representatives have changed their minds, you’re going to have to call them up again or email them again or Tweet them again and ask them what happened, what changed?  You’re still taking out these loans.  You’re still facing challenges.

Remind them that we’re a people who help one another earn an education, because it benefits all of us.  During the Civil War, Lincoln had the foresight to set up a system of land grant colleges.  At the end of World War II, we set up the GI Bill so that people like my grandfather could come back from a war and get an education.  All these things created the greatest middle class on Earth.

My mom, a single mom, was able to get the support that she needed through loans and grants — even while she was also working and raising two kids — to get her degrees.  I’m only here, Michelle is only right over there in the East Wing because we got great educations.  We didn’t come from privilege.  And we want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities, because that has been good for the country as a whole.

It’s up to us now to carry forward that tradition.  Higher education cannot be a luxury for a privileged few.  It is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford, every young person with dreams and ambition should be able to access.  And now is not the time for us to turn back on young people.  Now is not the time to slash the investments that help us grow.  Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to you and the generation that’s coming behind you, and that if we work together to generate more jobs and educate more kids and open up new opportunities for everybody who’s willing to work and willing to push through those doors of opportunity, America can’t be stopped.

So I’m putting my faith in you.  Let’s work together.  Let’s get this done by July 1st.  Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
10:36 A.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, Nevada — Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event – Reno, NV

Source: WH, 8-21-12

Truckee Meadows Community College
Reno, Nevada

4:44 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Reno! (Applause.) Hello, hello! It is good to be back in Nevada! (Applause.)

Well, listen, first of all, can everybody give Alejandra a huge round of applause? (Applause.) She did a great job. We’re very proud of her. She was outstanding.

I also want to acknowledge a dear friend, a great friend of working people not just here Nevada but all across the country, your Senator, Harry Reid, is in the house. (Applause.) Where is Harry? There he is.

It’s good to see all of you. (Applause.) And let me just point out, every time I come here the weather is really good. (Applause.) I mean, you guys have a pretty good deal here. It is beautiful. And as we were flying in, we flew over Tahoe — (applause) — I’d like to pretend that there is a big campaign event there — (laughter) — but I can’t really pretend that that’s the case.

But it is wonderful to be in the state. It is great to be at Truckee Meadows Community College. (Applause.) And I came here today to talk about what students are doing here every single day. Your education is the single most important investment you can make in your future. That’s true for Alejandra; it is true for every single student here. It’s true whether you are talking about a community college or whether you’re talking about a four-year college or university.

And I’m proud of all of you who are doing what it takes to make that investment — not just the money, but also the long hours in the library — at least I hope you’re spending some long hours in the library — (laughter) — and in the lab, and in the classroom. Because it’s never been more important.

But the degree students earn from this college is the surest path you will have to a good job and to higher earnings. (Applause.) It’s the best tool that you’ve got to achieve that basic American promise, that simple idea that if you work hard in this country, you will be rewarded. The basic bargain that says if you work hard, if you’re willing to put in the effort, then you can do well enough to raise a family, you can own your home, you can put a little away for retirement, you won’t have to worry about being bankrupt if you get sick; maybe you can take a vacation once in a while. And most importantly, you know that you’ll be able to pass on to your kids more opportunity and the possibility that they can do things that you couldn’t even dream of. (Applause.)

That’s what America is all about — making sure those doors of opportunity are open to everybody. That’s the reason I ran for President. That’s what my presidency has been about. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Now, here is the thing, though — your education is not just important to you, it’s important to America’s success. When we invest in your future, we’re investing in America’s future. The fact is that countries that out-educate us today, they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose that race to make sure we’ve got the most highly educated, most-skilled workforce in the world. (Applause.) And when companies and businesses are looking to locate, that’s what they’re looking for. And I don’t want them looking any farther than Reno, Nevada; the state of Nevada; the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve got the best workers in the world, and I want to keep it that way. (Applause.)

And your education is just getting more important. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. More than half of the new jobs over the next decade will require some form of higher education. And I don’t think it’s also any news to you that higher education is getting harder and harder to afford. It is tough for a lot of folks.

Over the past couple of decades, over the last 20 years, tuition and fees at America’s colleges and universities have more than doubled. The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 in student loan debt. And living with that kind of debt means you’ve got to make tough choices, especially when you’re first starting out. It may mean putting off starting a family or buying a home. It may mean you don’t have enough savings to try to start that new business idea that you’ve got.

When a big chunk of each paycheck goes just towards servicing your loan debt, that’s not just tough for middle-class families that are trying to make it, it’s also not good for the economy, because it means you’re not spending that money with local businesses.

And I want you to understand I speak from experience here. (Applause.) Michelle and I know about this firsthand. We didn’t come from wealthy families. My mom was a single mom. Michelle’s dad was a blue-collar worker. Her mom was a secretary. Michelle’s parents never went to college. Both of us graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt. So when we got married, we pooled our liabilities, not our assets. (Laughter.) We got poorer together, not richer. In fact, we paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month when we finally were able to afford to buy a condo. And then, once we had Malia and Sasha, now we’re supposed to be saving for their college education, but we’re still paying off for our college educations.

And, look, we were luckier than most. We had landed good jobs with steady incomes. Even with that, though, we only but finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago. Now, think about that — I became President three and a half years ago. (Applause.) I was a U.S. senator about seven years ago. So I had been working and Michelle had been working for over a decade before we got all our loans paid off.

But here’s the thing. I’m only standing here before you today because of the chance that that education gave me. So I think I can speak with some experience and say, making higher education more affordable for our young people is something I’ve got a personal stake in. It’s not something I believe in abstractly. It’s something Michelle has a personal stake in. We believe in it because we’ve been in your shoes. We know what it’s like. (Applause.) We understand that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, then young people — many of whom are more talented than Michelle and I — may not get a shot.

And that’s why I’ve made this one of the top priorities of my presidency. It’s part of what’s at stake in this election. When all of you walk in to that voting booth in November, you’re going to have a choice. And part of it is the choice of how we treat education in this country. And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families does not seem to be a priority that my opponent shares.

Look, a few months ago, Governor Romney told a crowd of young people, just like you, that if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or you want to start a business, then you can just — and I’m quoting here — “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Harry, did your parents have a whole bunch of money to lend you?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: My parents didn’t have a lot of money to lend me. I bet a bunch of your parents don’t have a lot of money to lend. It’s not because they don’t want to — they don’t have it.

When a high school student asked Governor Romney what he would do to make college more affordable for families, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that have helped millions of students earn a college education. He didn’t say anything about work-study programs, or rising college tuition. He did not say a single word about community colleges, or how important higher education is to America’s economic future. Here’s what he said: “The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.” (Laughter.) To shop around.

So this is his plan. That’s his answer to a young person hoping to go to college — shop around and borrow money from your parents if you have to.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Now, that’s not an answer. That’s not even — not only is not a good answer, it’s not even an answer. There is nothing a parent wants to do more than to give their kids opportunities that we never had. (Applause.) There are very few things more painful than a parent not being able to do it.

But we’re still fighting back from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. There are a lot of parents out there who are working really hard but still struggling to make ends meet. And I do not accept the notion that we should deny their children the opportunity of a higher education and a brighter future just because their families were hard hit by a recession. (Applause.)

Think about all the discoveries, all the businesses, all the breakthroughs that we wouldn’t have had if we had told every American that wanted to go to college, “tough luck, too bad, you’re on your own.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Shop around!

THE PRESIDENT: Shop around. This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That’s part of what made us an economic superpower. (Applause.) That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science, and technology and medicine.

And this is not just a new commitment we’ve made. My grandfather had the chance to go to college because after fighting on behalf of America in World War II, he came back to a country that decided, you know what, we’re going to make sure every veteran should be able to afford college. (Applause.)

My mother was able to raise me and my sister by herself and go to college because she was able to get grants and work her way through school. Michelle and I would not be here without the help of scholarships and student loans. (Applause.) We are only here because the chance our education gave us, and I want every young person to have that chance.

And listen, government can’t help folks who won’t help themselves. Parents have to parent, and young people have to stay disciplined and focused. But if you’re willing to work hard, a college education in the 21st century should be available to everybody, not just the wealthy few. (Applause.) That’s what I believe. Whether it’s a 4-year education, a 2-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is a necessity. (Applause.) And every American family should be able to afford it.

That’s what’s at stake in this election, Nevada. It’s one of the reasons I’m running for President.

And listen, I want you to understand — I’m not just talking the talk. I’m not just making promises. Since I took office, we’ve helped over 3 million more students afford a college education with grants that go farther than they did before. (Applause.) Now, unfortunately, the economic plan of Governor Romney could cut our investments in education by about 20 percent. So the grants that we’ve used that Alejandro may be taking advantage of, many of you may be taking advantage of — those grants could be cut so deeply that 1 million of the students who would have been helped would no longer get scholarships. It would cut financial aid for nearly 10 million students a year.

Now — and here’s the worst part. They’re not making these cuts to create reduce the deficit. They’re not making these cuts so they can create more jobs. They’re doing it to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut weighted towards the wealthiest Americans.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Does that sound like a plan for a better future for you?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a plan that says we can’t afford to help the next generation, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. We can’t offer our young people student loans because we’ve got to protect corporate tax loopholes. It’s a vision that says we can’t help young people who are trying to make it because we’ve got to protect the folks who already have made it. That’s not a vision we have to accept.

Governor Romney likes to talk about his time as an investor as one of the bases for his candidacy, but his economic plan makes clear he doesn’t think your future is worth investing in. And I do. That’s what’s at stake in this election. That’s the choice this November. (Applause.)

We are going to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids and training our workers. (Applause.) There are business owners across the country who say they can’t fill the skilled positions they have open, and you’ve got millions of people who are out there looking for work. So I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges just like this one to learn the skills that local businesses are hiring for right now. (Applause.)

Community colleges like Truckee Meadows educate the backbone of our workforce. (Applause.) This is where young people and some not-so-young people can come and get trained as nurses and firefighters and computer programmers and folks who manufacture clean-energy components. And these are the vital pathways to the middle class, and we shouldn’t weaken them; we should strengthen them. (Applause.)

Earlier this summer, Harry Reid and I, we fought to make sure the interest rate on federal student loans didn’t go up. (Applause.) We won that fight. (Applause.) The Republican plan in Congress would have allowed those rates to double, costing more than 7 million students an extra thousand dollars a year. With the help of Harry Reid we set up a college tax credit so that more middle-class families can save up to $10,000 on their tuition over four years. (Applause.) Governor Romney wants to repeal it.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: In 2008, I promised we would reform a student loan system that was giving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks and lobbyists instead of giving it to students. So they were taking a cut out of the student loan program even though they had no risk, because the federal government was guaranteeing the loans — $60 billion worth. So we said, no, let’s cut them out; let’s give this money directly to students. (Applause.) We won that fight. That’s what we used to double the grants for students who are in need.

My opponent is running to return the system back to the way it was. He wants to go backwards to policies where banks were taking out billions of dollars out of the student loan program. He wants to go back to policies that got us into this mess in the first place. That is the choice in this election. I want to move forward; he wants to go backwards. We are not going to let him. That’s what’s at stake in this election. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Four years ago, I promised we’d end the war in Iraq. (Applause.) And we promised we’d go after al Qaeda and bin Laden. (Applause.) We promised to blunt the momentum of the Taliban and then start turning over security responsibilities to the Afghans so we can start bringing our troops home. We are keeping these promises because of the tremendous sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.)

So, today, all of our troops are out of Iraq, and we are winding down the war in Afghanistan. But we’ve got to make sure that we keep faith with those folks who fought for us. (Applause.) So we’ve made sure to keep the Post-9/11 GI Bill strong. Everybody who has served this country should have a chance to get their degree, and as long as I am Commander-in-Chief, this country will care for our veterans and serve them as well as they have served us. (Applause.) Nobody who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or fight for a college education, or fight for a roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.) That’s part of what’s at stake in this election.

Now, I have to tell you, over the course of the next two and a half months, the other side will not talk much about education because they don’t really have a plan. They won’t be talking about much, but they will spend more money than we’ve ever seen on ads that just try to repeat the same thing over and over again: The economy is not doing as well as it should, and it’s all Obama’s fault. (Laughter.) It’s like going to a concert and they just keep on playing the same song over and over again. (Laughter.) And the reason they’ve got to try to just repeat that over and over again is because they know their economic plan is not popular. They know that the American people are not going to buy another $5 trillion tax cut, most of which goes to wealthy Americans and that will be paid for by you.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: They know gutting education to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires is not going to sell. So since they can’t advertise their plan, they’re going to bet on the fact that you get discouraged, that you get cynical, that you decide your vote doesn’t matter. They’re betting that each $10 million check from some wealthy donor drowns out millions of voices. They don’t see that as a problem; that’s their strategy.

I’m counting on something different. I’m counting on you. (Applause.) See, part of what you taught me in 2008 is that when the American people join together, they can’t be stopped. (Applause.) When we remember our parents and our grandparents and great-grandparents and all the sacrifices they made, and we’re reminded that this country has always risen and fallen together; when we remember that what makes us special is the idea that everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules — when that’s our focus, you can’t be stopped. (Applause.)

So here’s what I’m going to need from everybody: First of all, you’ve got no excuse not to register to vote. We’ve got staff and volunteers who are here. They will grab you at the door. You won’t be able to escape. This young lady right here, she’s ready to register some voters. (Applause.) And if somehow we miss you, or if you decide you want to help your friends and your neighbors and fellow students to get registered, you can do it online at GottaRegister.com. Now, I want — I know this is an educated place, but “gotta” is spelled g-o-t-t-a. (Laughter.) This is GottaRegister.com. So you’ve got to — you’ve “gotta” not just register; you gotta grab some friends. You gotta grab some neighbors. You gotta take them to the polls. You gotta vote. (Applause.)

Let’s prove the cynics wrong one more time. Let’s show them your vote counts. Let’s prove your voice is more powerful than lobbyists and special interests. Let’s keep the promise of this country alive — that no matter what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try. (Applause.) We’ve come too far to turn back now. We’ve got more students to educate, more teachers to hire, more troops to bring home, more schools to rebuild, more jobs to create, more homegrown energy to generate, more doors of opportunity to open for everybody who’s willing to work hard. (Applause.)

And if you’ll stand with me like you did in 2008, if you’re willing to do some work and knock on doors and make phone calls, we will win Washoe County. We will win Nevada. We will win this election. We’ll finish what we started, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

God bless you. God bless America.

END
5:10 P.M. PDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio — Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-21-12

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama kicked off a two-day campaign swing through Ohio and Nevada Tuesday by shifting the focus of his attacks from Medicare and taxes to education, slamming the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan plan to cut student aid.
“Whether it’s a four-year college [or] a two-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity that every family in America should be able to afford. And that’s what’s at stake in this election,” the president told supporters.

Obama’s education pitch, which he is outlining in visits to two colleges and a high school in critical battleground states, is part of a broader effort to show how the Romney-Ryan budget cuts would negatively impact Americans….READ MORE

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Columbus, OH

Source: WH, 8-21-12 

Capital University
Columbus, Ohio

1:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Ohio!  (Applause.)  Hello, Crusaders!  (Applause.)  Oh, it is good to be back in Columbus!  (Applause.)  The sun came out for us.  (Applause.)  It’s a good sign.

It is fun to be back in Ohio, and it is great to be here.  I just want to acknowledge a few people.  First of all, give Steven a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  He was explaining to me what it’s like being a BMX driver — rider.  And he said that — he said, well — I asked him, because I’d seen those guys in the Olympics, and I said, it seems like you guys fall a lot.  (Laughter.)  And he says, “No, no, I learned how to fall on my shoulder.”  I said, well, is that good?  He said, “Well, I broke my shoulder four times.”  (Laughter.)  But he looks okay to me.  He’s doing great.

A couple other people I want to acknowledge — your outstanding Mayor, Michael Coleman is in the house.  (Applause.) There he is.  And we’ve got congressional candidate — Joyce Beatty is here.  (Applause.)  And all of you are here.  (Applause.)

How many students do we have here?  (Applause.)  You guys are excited about school starting up?  (Applause.)  Everybody was saying yes except this one guy over here.  (Laughter.)  He was shaking his head.  Come on, man, it’s going to be great.  (Applause.)

Well, I am glad we’ve got some students here because I came to Columbus today to talk about what most of the students here are doing every day.  Your education is the single most important investment that you can make in your future.  And I’m proud of all the students who are here doing what it takes to make that investment — the long hours in the library — except for this guy.  (Laughter.)  Working in the lab, being in the classroom — even when your classes start a little earlier than you had planned — because your education has never been more important.

The degree that you earn from this university is the surest path that you will have to a good job and to higher earnings.  It’s the best tool you’ll have to achieve what is the core promise of this country — the idea that if you work hard, your work will be rewarded.  The basic bargain that says if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can do well enough to raise a family and have a home that you call your own, have some security, put a little away for retirement, and most importantly, make sure that your children, your grandchildren can do even better and dream even bigger than you did.  (Applause.)  That’s the hope that your parents had for you.  That’s the hope I have for Malia and Sasha.  That’s the hope that you’ll someday have for your own kids.

But here’s the thing.  This is about more than just your own success.  Now, more than ever, your success is America’s success, because when we invest in your future we’re investing in America’s future.  The fact is that countries that out-educate us today, they’ll be able to out-compete us tomorrow.  Businesses are mobile in the 21st century economy; they can locate anywhere. So they’re going to create jobs and they’re going to hire wherever they find the best educated, most highly skilled workers.  And I don’t want them to have to look any further than right here in Columbus, right here in Ohio, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And because the economy has changed, over the coming decade more than half of new jobs will require some form of higher education.  It may not be a four-year college degree, but you’re going to need to have gone to a community college or a technical school to get the skills you need to get hired — and this is not breaking news to any of you.  What’s also not breaking news is the fact that higher education has gotten a lot harder to afford; it’s gotten more expensive.  Over the past two years — excuse me, over the past two decades, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.

The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 worth of student loan debt.  (Laughter.)  What, that sounds low to you?  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  I just said the average.  (Laughter.)  For a lot of young people it’s a lot higher, and that kind of debt means pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It might mean putting off starting a family or buying a home, or putting off chasing that great idea that you’ve got for a small business.  When a big chunk of each paycheck goes towards paying off your loan debt, that’s not just tough for middle-class families that are trying to make it and young people who are trying to get started; it’s also painful for the entire economy because that means that money you might be spending on buying a new home or doing something else with it, it’s going to that check that you’re writing every single month.  It’s not going to the local business.

And I have to say, this is something Michelle and I know firsthand about.  I’m not speculating on this, because we’ve been in your shoes.  Neither of us came from wealthy families.  Both of us graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt.  When we married, we got poor together.  (Laughter.)  We combined our liabilities into one big liability.  (Laughter.)  We paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month, and that went on for years.  And then, once we had Malia and Sasha, we needed to start saving for their college educations but we were still paying off our college educations.

Now, keep in mind we were lucky enough to land good jobs, we had steady incomes, but we did not finish paying off our student loans until about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m not —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You got an education.

THE PRESIDENT:  I got an education and it worked out pretty good.  (Laughter and applause.)  But the point I’m making is, I’m only standing before you because of the chance that my education gave me.  So I can tell you, with some experience, that making higher education more affordable for our young people — it’s something I’ve got a personal stake in; it’s something that Michelle has a personal stake in.  We believe in it because we’ve been there and we know that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, young people who are more talented than we are may not get a shot.  That’s why I’ve made it a top priority of my presidency.  And, Ohio, that is something that is at stake in this election.  That’s part of the reason why November is so important.  (Applause.)

And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families just doesn’t seem to be a big priority for my opponent.  A few months ago, just up the road, in Westerville, Governor Romney said, if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just — and I’m quoting here — “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  When a high school student in Youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students to get a college education.  He said nothing about work-study programs or rising college tuition.  He didn’t say a word about community colleges or how important higher education is to America’s future.  He said, the best thing you can do is shop around.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s it!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s it.  That’s his plan.  That’s his answer to young people who are trying to figure out how to go to college and make sure that they don’t have a mountain of debt — shop around and borrow more money from your parents.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  What are we going to do?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’ve just got to — I want to make sure everybody understands. Not everybody has parents who have the money to lend.  (Applause.)  That may be news to some folks, but it’s the truth.  (Laughter.)

So what Governor Romney is offering is not an answer.  There’s nothing a parent wants more than to give opportunities to their kids that they never had.  And it’s pretty painful for a lot of parents if they can’t do that.  But as we’re fighting back from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, you’ve got a lot of parents who are out there struggling just to make ends meet.  And I don’t accept the notion that we should deny any child the opportunity to get a higher education.  If they’ve been working hard, if they’ve got the grades, if they’ve got the determination to get a better future for themselves, I don’t want them to be prevented just because their families were hit hard by a recession.  (Applause.)

That’s not who we are.  That’s not what America is about.  We give everybody a fair shot.  Think about all the discoveries, all the businesses, all the breakthroughs that we would not have made if we told every young person who has got the drive and the will and the grades to go to college, “tough luck, too bad, you’re on your own.”  We’ve always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who is willing to work for it.  That’s part of what makes us special.  That’s what keeps us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.

And this dates back for decades.  Some of you know my grandfather fought in World War II.  When he came back, he had a chance to go to college because this country decided every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it.  (Applause.)  My mother was able to raise me and my sister because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  Michelle and I would not be here today without the help of scholarships and student loans.  And I know Steve wouldn’t be here either and neither would a lot of you.  (Applause.)

So in a 21st century economy, a college education should be available for everybody — not just the wealthy few.  Whether it’s a four-year college, a two-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity that every family in America should be able to afford.  And that’s what’s at stake in this election.  It’s one of the reasons I’m running for President of the United States for a second term.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I want you to know that I have not just talked the talk; we have walked the walk.  (Applause.)  Since I took office, we have helped more than 3 million additional students afford a college education with grants that go farther than they did before.  The economic plan my opponent has would cut our investment in education by nearly 20 percent.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  It would cut those grants so deeply that 1 million of those students who we have helped would no longer get a scholarship at all.  It would cut financial aid for nearly 10 million students a year.

And keep in mind they’re not making these cuts to create jobs.  They’re not proposing these cuts to pay down the deficit. Governor Romney is proposing these cuts to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut that’s weighted towards the wealthiest Americans.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Does that sound like a better plan for America?  Does that sound like a better plan for you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  A plan that says that we can’t afford to help the next generation earn an education, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?  A plan that says we can’t afford our young people — to offer our young people student loans because we’ve got to protect corporate loopholes?  It’s a vision that says we can’t help young people who are trying to make it because we’ve got to protect the folks who already have made it.

Michelle and I are going to be able to send Malia and Sasha to college.  We don’t need an extra tax break.  You do.  (Applause.)  Their vision is wrong for moving America forward.  It’s not a vision you’ve got to accept.  That’s why November is important, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President.  (Applause.)

Governor Romney makes his time as an investor in the private sector the basis of his candidacy.  That’s how he says he’s going to fix the economy – “I was in the private sector.”  And his economic plan makes one thing clear:  He does not think investing in your future is worth it.  He doesn’t think that’s a good investment.  I do.  That’s what’s at stake in this election.  That’s the choice in November.  That’s why we fought to make sure the interest rate on federal student loans didn’t go up over the summer.  We won that fight.  (Applause.)

Some of these Republican members of Congress would have allowed those rates to double, costing more than 7 million students an extra thousand dollars a year.  I’ve said I want to extend the college tax credit that my administration created so more families can save up to $10,000 on their tuition over four years.  (Applause.)  They want to end that tax credit.  That’s the choice in this election.

In 2008, I promised we would reform a student loan system that was giving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks and lobbyists instead of students.  There are plenty of folks in Washington who fought tooth and nail to keep that system as it was.  We kept at it, we won that fight, we used it to double grant aid for students.  (Applause.)

My opponent now wants to go back to the way things were.  He wants to go backwards to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  We’re moving forward.  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s why I’m running for a second term.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, part of our job is also to make sure you don’t need a Ph.D. to apply for financial aid in the first place. So we’ve put in place this new consumer protection watchdog, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, put in place — and it’s working with the Department of Education to develop a simple new factsheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own best choices about how to pay for college.  We call it “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe.  (Applause.)  That’s a good idea.  But my opponent wants to get rid of this new consumer protection agency, and let for-profit colleges keep preying on veterans and working families.  That’s one of the choices in this election.

I’m want to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids, training our workers.  I want to make sure more of our students are prepared for college by helping our secondary and elementary schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science.  (Applause.)  I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community college and learn the skills that local businesses are looking for right now.

I’ve put colleges and universities on notice — if they can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding they get from taxpayers will go down.  We want to give them some incentive to start lowering tuition.  (Applause.)  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what you’re going to be having to think about when you go to that voting booth in November.

Four years ago, I promised that we would end the war in Iraq.  (Applause.)  Thanks to the service and the sacrifice of our incredible men and women in uniform, that’s what we’ve done.  (Applause.)  Today, all our troops are out of Iraq.  We are beginning to bring our troops homes from Afghanistan.  But the key is making sure that they are getting the same good deal that my grandfather got when he came home from the war.  So we’ve made sure to keep the Post-9/11 GI Bill strong so that everybody who has served our country has the chance to earn a degree.

As long as I am Commander-in-Chief, I promise you we will care for our veterans and serve them as well as they’ve served us.  (Applause.)  If you fought for this country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a college education or for a job or for a roof over your heads when you come home.  (Applause.)  So that’s what we’re fighting for, Columbus.  That’s just one example, in the education arena, of what’s at stake.

Now, over the next two and a half months, the other side will spend more money than we have ever seen — ever.  I mean, they got folks writing $10 million checks, $20 million checks.  They should be contributing that to a scholarship fund to send kids to college.  (Applause.)  But instead, they are going to spend more money than we’ve ever seen on ads.  And the ads all say the same thing, which is, the economy is not where it needs to be and it’s all Obama’s fault.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  See, look — no, no, listen, they know their economic plan isn’t popular.  They know that gutting investments in education and science and infrastructure, and voucherizing Medicare, they know that doesn’t really sell well.  They know that it especially doesn’t sell well when you’re doing all those things not to reduce the deficit but to pay for massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  They know that’s not going to poll well.  So they’re betting on the fact that you get so discouraged that you decide your vote doesn’t matter.

They’re betting every single $10 million check from a wealthy donor drowns out millions of voices at the ballot box.  They’re counting on young people sitting this one out.  They say well, you know what — Obama, he’s grayer now, he’s not as new and as fresh as he was in 2008, so young people aren’t going to turn out the same way.  They’re counting on you sitting on the sidelines and letting others make the choice for you.  See, they don’t have a plan to create jobs or strengthen the middle class, but this is their plan to win the election.

But I’m counting on something different.  I’m counting on you.  (Applause.)  I’m counting on the fact that when the American people focus and push aside all the noise and all the nonsense, and they remember the fact that all of us, whatever success we’ve achieved, we’ve achieved because we worked together, because we made sure everybody has a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  I’m counting on the fact that when the American people focus on what’s at stake, you can’t be stopped.  And all the money the other side is spending doesn’t matter.

So I’m going to need your help — young people especially — I’m going to need your help.  (Applause.)  I need to make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address.  We’ve got staff and volunteers who are here who can help you do that before you leave today.  And when you leave, I’m asking you to grab 10 friends — make sure they’re registered, too.  And if you need more information, you can go visit the website GottaRegister.com.  That’s not Got-To, it’s Gotta.  (Laughter.)  G-o-t-t-a-register.com.

Let’s prove the cynics wrong.  Let’s show them your votes count.  Let’s show them your voice makes a difference.  Let’s show them America better start listening to the voice of the next generation of Americans.  (Applause.)

I need your help to keep this American Dream alive, this incredible experiment we have in democracy; this idea that no matter where you’re born, or who your parents are, or how much money you got, or no matter what you look like or what you believe in, you can go as far as your talents take you.  (Applause.)  That dream that we can still, together, achieve great things; that you can pursue the happiness that you hope for and your parents hope for; that here in America you can make it if you try.

Ohio, we’ve come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more students who dream to afford college.  We’ve got more good teachers to hire.  We’ve got more schools to rebuild.  We’ve got more good jobs to create.  We’ve got more homegrown energy to generate.  We’ve got more troops we’ve got to come home.  We’ve got more doors of opportunity to open for everybody who is willing to walk through them.  That’s why I’m asking for a second term as President.

And if you’re willing to stand with me, and vote for me, and organize with me, and knock on doors and make phone calls with me, we will finish what we started.  We will win Ohio.  We will win this election.  And we will remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

END
1:27 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines June 29, 2012: House Passes Student Loan Interest Rates Extension & Transportation Jobs Bill with a Vote of 373-52

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: HOUSE PASSES STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES EXTENSION & TRANSPORTATION JOBS BILL WITH A VOTE OF 373-52

House passes student loans, highway jobs bill: The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed legislation to salvage 2.8 million jobs, mostly in construction, and forestall a sharp increase in interest rates on college loans.

The measure cleared the House on a 373-52 vote and Senate approval was expected shortly…. – AP, 6-29-12

  • Congress sends student loan and transportation package to Obama: Congress ended months of partisan bickering on Friday by passing and sending to President Barack Obama a comprehensive extension of highway and infrastructure projects, along with a one-year extension of low student loan interest rates…. – msnbc.com, 6-29-12
  • Congress moves toward passage of highway bill, takes action on student loans: The burst of legislating comes just four months before the November elections, giving lawmakers achievements to show off to voters who have increasingly held Congress in low esteem…. – CS Monitor, 6-29-12
451 29-Jun H R 4348 On Agreeing to the Conference Report P To provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund pending enactment of a multiyear law reauthorizing such programs, and for other purposes
450 29-Jun H R 5972 On Passage P Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes
449 29-Jun H R 5972 On Motion to Recommit with Instructions F Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes
448 29-Jun H R 5972 On Agreeing to the Amendment A Denham of California Amendment No. 9
447 29-Jun H R 5972 On Agreeing to the Amendment A Lankford of Oklahoma Amendment
446 29-Jun H R 5972 On Agreeing to the Amendment A McClintock of California Amendment No. 13
445 29-Jun H R 5972 On Agreeing to the Amendment F Blackburn of Tennessee Amendment
444 29-Jun H RES 717 On Agreeing to the Resolution P Providing for consideration of H.R. 5856, Defense Appropriations for FY 2013; consideration of H.R. 6020, Financial Services and General Government Appropriations for FY 2013; consideration of the conference report to accompany H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II
443 29-Jun H RES 718 On Motion to Table P Raising a question of the privileges of the House

Full Text Obama Presidency June 23, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urges Congress to Act on Transportation Bill and Student Loans

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama’s Weekly Address: Demanding Action On The Transportation Bill and Student Loans

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-23-12

The White House / Pete Souza

President Obama is urging lawmakers to put politics aside ad pass legislation to fund transportation projects and extend low-rate student loans, saying there is “no excuse for inaction.”

“We are seven days away from thousands of American workers having to walk off the job because Congress hasn’t passed a transportation bill.  We are eight days away from nearly seven and a half million students seeing their loan rates double because Congress hasn’t acted to stop it,” the president says in his weekly address. “This makes no sense.”

“This is a time when we should be doing everything in our power – Democrats and Republicans – to keep this recovery moving forward,” he adds….READ MORE

President Obama discusses the urgent need for Congress to act now on two common sense measures to help middle class families: preventing interest rates on federal student loans from going up and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Sonya N. Hebert, 6/21/12

Weekly Address: Congress Must Act on Transportation Bill and Student Loans

Source: WH, 6-23-12
President Obama discusses the urgent need for Congress to act now on two common sense measures to help middle class families: preventing interest rates on federal student loans from going up and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Congress Must Act on Transportation Bill and Student Loans

WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama spoke about the urgent need for Congress to act now on two common sense measures to help hardworking middle class families.  Unless Congress takes action in the next week, thousands of workers will be sent home from their jobs and millions of students will see their interest rates double. At a time when hundreds of thousands of construction workers are eager to get back on the job, it makes no sense to let transportation funding run out. And at a time when a college education has never been more important to finding a good job, it makes no sense to hit 7.4 million students with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax. It’s not too late, but time is running out for Republicans and Democrats to come together on these common sense measures to help our nation recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Washington, DC
June 23, 2012

Over the past three years, we’ve been clawing our way back from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  And we know it will take longer than any of us would like to fully recover all the jobs and savings that have been lost.  But there are things we can do – right now – to help put people back to work and make life a little easier for middle-class families.

For months, I’ve been pushing Congress to help us along by passing common-sense policies that would make a difference.  Democrats and Republicans have already done some important work together – like passing a tax cut that’s allowing working Americans to keep more of their paycheck every week.   But Congress has refused to act on most of the other ideas in my jobs plan that economists say could put a million more Americans back to work.

There’s no excuse for inaction.  Right now, we are seven days away from thousands of American workers having to walk off the job because Congress hasn’t passed a transportation bill.  We are eight days away from nearly seven and a half million students seeing their loan rates double because Congress hasn’t acted to stop it.

This makes no sense.  We know that one of the most important things we can do for our economy is to make sure that all Americans get the best education possible.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  So, if we know that a higher education is the clearest path to the middle class, why would we make it harder to achieve?

So much of America needs to be repaired right now.  Bridges are deteriorating after years of neglect. Highways are choked with congestion. Transportation delays cost Americans and businesses billions of dollars every year. And there are hundreds of thousands of construction workers who have never been more eager to get back on the job.  So why would we let our transportation funding run out?  This is a time when we should be doing everything in our power – Democrats and Republicans – to keep this recovery moving forward.

My Administration is doing its part.  On Friday, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced $500 million in competitive grants for states and communities that will create construction jobs on projects like road repair and port renovation.  And that’s an important step, but we can’t do it all on our own.

The Senate did their part.  They passed a bipartisan transportation bill back in March.  It had the support of 52 Democrats and 22 Republicans.

Now, it’s up to the House to follow suit; to put aside partisan posturing, end the gridlock, and do what’s right for the American people.

It’s not lost on any of us that this is an election year.  But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election.  We answer to the American people, and they are demanding action.  Let’s make it easier for students to stay in college.  Let’s keep construction workers rebuilding our roads and bridges.  And let’s tell Congress to do their job.   Tell them it’s time to take steps that we know will create jobs now and help sustain our economy for years to come.

Full Text Obama Presidency June 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability and Student Loan Interest Rates — Urges Congress to Act to Renew Rates

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA VS. CONGRESS OVER STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE RENEWAL

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on college affordability (June 21, 2012)
President Barack Obama, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, delivers a statement on college affordability and interest rates on student loans, in the East Room of the White House, June 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Obama, GOP Clash over Student Loans: President Obama on Thursday demanded that lawmakers act to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, saying it was “mind-boggling” that the stalemate has lasted this long.
“This should be a no-brainer. It should not be difficult. It should have gotten done weeks ago,” the president told students, parents and educators at the White House. “There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing. I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet. And we’ve got to keep the pressure on.”
Both Republicans and Democrats believe the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent and agree the current rates should be extended for at least another year. But the sides cannot agree to how to pay for the $6 billion bill…. – ABC News Radio, 6-21-12

  • Obama, GOP Clash over Student Loans: President Obama on Thursday demanded that lawmakers act to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, saying it was “mind-boggling” that the stalemate has lasted this long…. – WTMA, 6-21-12
  • Obama urges students, parents to pressure Congress on student loans issue: With slightly more than a week left before student loan rates double for millions of Americans on July 1, President Obama on Thursday urged students and their parents to continue to press for congressional action. It was the second time in as many…. – WaPo, 6-21-12
  • Obama urges Congress to stop interest rates on student loans: President Obama is urging Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, calling it a ‘”no-brainer.” If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates on new loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent come July…. – WaPo, 6-21-12
  • Obama, GOP fight over student loans as young people struggle: The clock is ticking down to the day when new student loan interest rates are expected to double, and President Obama made his latest appeal to Congress today to extend the current low rate. If Congress doesn’t act by July 1, the interest…. – CBS News, 6-21-12
  • Political squabbling over student loans continues: With time running out for Congress to prevent a doubling of interest rates on federal student loans, the White House and Republican leaders exchanged accusations Thursday on who was to blame for the lack of an agreement…. – CNN, 6-21-12
  • Obama accuses GOP of ‘playing chicken’ with loan program: President Obama said today that Republicans are “playing chicken” with a low-interest student loan program, and urged college students to pressure the GOP in advance of a July 1 deadline. “We cannot afford to price the…. – USA Today, 6-21-12
  • Obama’s day: More on student loans: President Obama focuses on the student loan issue. After a series of meetings in the morning, Obama will deliver remarks urging Congress to renew a low interest student loan program…. – USA Today, 6-21-12

President Obama Again Pushes Congress to Act on Student Loans

Source: WH, 6-21-12

Time is running out for Congress to take actions to stop the rates on federal student loans from doubling on July 1.

That’s why President Obama spoke today from the East Room of the White House about the importance of keeping college affordable.

“If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year,” he said. “If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike. And that’s not something that you can afford right now.”

In his remarks, the President also stressed the importance of taking this step for the broader economy. It’s not just that those students will suddenly have less money to spend — it’s that we need to have the best educated workforce in the world, and keeping higher education affordable helps to make that possible.

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

East Room

1:36 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Everybody have a seat.  (Applause.)  Well, it is good to see all of you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you guys back.  (Laughter.)  I have to say, the — I don’t know about the choice of music coming in here, though.  (Laughter.)  I love my Marine Band, but this is kind of a young demographic for the piano cocktail hour.  (Laughter.)

So some of the most fun I’ve had as President is when I get a chance to talk with you, college students, about the importance of earning a higher education in today’s economy.  And I’ll admit that the East Room isn’t as rowdy as Carmichael Arena at UNC, or — we got any UNC folks here in the house?  There we go.  Coors Center at CU Boulder — any — no?  Okay.  (Laughter.)  I have to say that most of you are much more dressed up than usually when I see you in your own natural habitats.  (Laughter.)

But our message today is serious.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  They earn twice as much as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  So whether it’s at a four-year college, or a community college, or a technical program, some form of higher education, something beyond high school has never been more important.  It’s the surest path to finding a good job, earning a good salary, making it into the middle class.

And at the same time, over the last two decades, the cost of college has doubled — it’s actually more than doubled.  And that means — and I don’t have to tell you, because you’re probably tallying it up right now — the cost for you to take out loans has increased, and you are more likely to rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 of debt from their student loans.  Americans as a whole now owe more on student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And that is wrong, because we cannot afford to price the middle class and folks who aspire to go into the middle class, we can’t price them out of the college education market.  We can’t stand by when millions of young people are already saddled with debt just as you’re starting off.

Your parents, your grandparents, oftentimes they were in a position where when they got that first job, the first thing they’re thinking about is, how do I save to buy a home and start a family.  And if you’re already dealing with a big bunch of debt before you even get started, that’s a problem.  And it’s mind-boggling that we’ve had this stalemate in Washington that threatens to make the situation even worse.

So the reason you’re all here, the reason all these fine-looking young people behind me are here is that in just over a week the interest rates on federal student loans are scheduled to double.  I’ve been talking about this now for what — a month and a half, two months, three months, five months — I’ve lost track. (Laughter.)  We’ve been talking about it for a long time.  If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year.  If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike.  And that’s not something that you can afford right now.

Now, as I said, if this warning sounds familiar, we’ve been talking about this for months.  Congress has had the time to fix this for months.  It’s part of the reason why everybody here looks impatient.  (Laughter.)  This issue didn’t come out of nowhere; it’s been looming for months.  But we’ve been stuck watching Congress play chicken with another deadline.  So we’re  nine days away from thousands of American workers having to walk off their job because Congress hasn’t passed a transportation bill.  We’re 10 days away from nearly 7.5 million students seeing their loan rates double because Congress hasn’t acted.  This should be a no-brainer.  It should not be difficult.  It should’ve gotten done weeks ago.

Now, the good news is there are folks in Congress trying to do the right thing.  Last month, Democrats in the Senate put forward a plan that would have kept these rates in place without adding a dime to the deficit.  Unfortunately, Senate Republicans got together and blocked it.  Over in the House, the Republicans said they’d keep these rates down only if we agreed to cut things like preventive health care for women, which obviously wouldn’t fix the problem, but would create a new problem.

This is — even as they were voting in lockstep for an economic plan that would cut financial aid for nine million college students by an average of $1,000 and give a $150,000 tax cut to wealthy Americans.  So I recognize that there’s been some effort to change the subject from this rate hike.

One Congressman warned that this is all about giving college students “free college education” — which doesn’t make much sense, because the definition of a loan is it’s not free — (laughter) — you have to pay it back.  Others have said we’re just talking about student loans to distract from the economy.  That doesn’t make much sense because this is the economy.

This is all about the economy.  This is all about whether or not we are going to have the best-trained, best-educated workforce in the world.  That improves our economy.  And higher education cannot be a luxury reserved just for a privileged few. It’s an economic necessity for every family, and every family should be able to afford it.

So you guys, during this period when you’ve been in college have been some of the toughest economic times since the 1930s,  and there are still a lot of challenges ahead globally.  And we can’t control every economic headwind that we face, but this is something we can control.  This is something we can do something about.  Stopping student rates from doubling at the end of the month is something we can do right now to make a difference in the lives of all the American people.

There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing.  I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done, and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet.  And we’ve got to keep the pressure on.

That’s where all of you come in.  Over the past few months, there are so many students and parents who have been working hard to shine a light on this issue.  You’ve rallied on campuses, in your communities.  You’ve called, you’ve emailed, you’ve tweeted your representatives in Washington.  So you’ve played your part in making sure your voice is heard and your democracy is responsive.

My main message is, as you guys embark on this day of action, I want to make sure you keep this going.  Don’t stop until it’s actually done.  There is nothing more powerful than millions of voices that are calling for change, and all of your voices can make a difference.  So keep telling Congress to do what’s right, to get this done.  Tell them now is not the time to double interest rates on your student loans.  Tell them to double down on an investment in a strong and secure middle class — and that means your education.  Tell them now is the time to double down on an America where everybody who works hard has a fair shot at success.

And for those who are not here and are watching, if you tweet, use the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate — (laughter) — #dontdoublemyrate.  But I tell you, when I look out at this group right here, you give me confidence in America.  You make me optimistic, not only because you’re getting a great education, but also because all of you are participating and making sure that this democracy works the way it’s supposed to.  We need outstanding engineers, and we need outstanding nonprofit leaders, and we need outstanding entrepreneurs, but we also need outstanding citizens.  And that’s what you guys are displaying by your presence and your activities.

So, keep it up.  Let’s get this done.  Thanks, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
1:47 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines May 24, 2012: Senates Rejects Both Democratic & Republican Versions of the Bill to Keep Student Loan Rates Low — Dems 51-43 & GOP 34-62

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Dueling Student Loan Bills Rejected in Senate

Hemera/Thinkstock

The Senate made one last gesture this month to work on the Student Loan bill, but Democratic and Republican versions both failed in a last-minute, and half-hearted, attempt Thursday before lawmakers leave for a week-long Memorial Day holiday.

The Democratic bill failed by a 51-43 vote. The Republican alternative failed by a 34-62 vote. Both bills needed 60 votes for passage.

Both Republicans and Democrats believe the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled from the current 3.4 percent to 7.6 percent. Leaders of both parties say the current rates should be extended for at least another year.

But they cannot agree to how to pay for the $6 billion bill….READ MORE

Vote Date Question Result Description
00113 24-May On Passage of the Bill Rejected S. 2343; A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend the reduced interest rate for Federal Direct Stafford Loans, and for other purposes.
00112 24-May On the Amendment S.Amdt. 2153 Rejected Alexander Amdt. No. 2153; In the nature of a substitute.

 

Statement by the Press Secretary on Student Loan Interest Rate Votes in the Senate

With only 37 days left to stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1, Senate Republicans still have not proven that they’re serious about resolving this problem.  For the second time this month, they voted to ask millions of students to pay an average of $1,000 each rather than close a loophole that allows the very wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.  Now is not the time to refight old political battles, and certainly not the time to cut preventive health care measures.  With only a few days left until student loan interest rates double, it’s time to get this done so hard working students get a fair shot at an affordable education.

White House Recap April 20-27, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama’s University Tour in Support of Keeping Student Loan Interest Rates Low — Slow Jams with Jimmy Fallon

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: APRIL 20-27, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: “Stand Up. Be Heard. Be Counted.”

Source: WH, 4-27-12

Soldier Ride: Last Friday, 22 injured servicemembers took a spin around the South Lawn – with President Obama cheering them on – as a part of the annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride. The Soldier Ride is a four-day cycling event that unites Wounded Warriors and aims to help restore their physical and emotional well-being. The President praised the riders for their strength and dedication, noting, “You ride because you can, and you ride for those who can’t. That’s what this is all about.”

Honoring Never Again: “Awareness without action changes nothing,” the President remarked at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. on Monday. He spoke about honoring the pledge of “never again” by making sure we are doing everything we can to prevent and respond to atrocities and save lives, by spearheading new efforts and utilizing existing ones, including the Atrocities Prevention Board – established by the President to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on the critical mission to prevent mass atrocities and genocide.

Fighting Falcons: The United States Air Force football team was honored with the Commander-in-Chief Trophy on Monday in the East Room of the White House after beating the Army and Navy in 2011 to claim their 18th trophy.

#DontDoubleMyRate: When speaking this week at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Iowa about the importance of keeping interest rates on student loans low so that more Americans can get a fair shot at an affordable college education, President Obama asked college students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t double my rates. While Congress cut the rates on federal loans in half five years ago, that rate cut is set to expire on July 1st. Students are taking on more debt to afford the tuition and fees, and for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with federal loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.

Slow Jams: On Tuesday while stopping by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, President Obama had a message for Congress: This is not the time to make school more affordable for our young people. He didn’t just say it, though – if you missed President Obama slow jam the news, you can watch it here.

Veterans and their Families Can’t Wait: On Friday, the President and the First Lady traveled to Fort Stewart, Georgia, home to the Army’s famed 3rd Infantry Division. Besides meeting with soldiers and families, the President signed an Executive Order that renews his commitment to fully fund the post-9/11 G.I. Bill in an effort to preserve and enhance the educational opportunities for those who have served, as well as their families.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability & Student Loans Interest Rates Doubling at the University of Iowa

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks to Students in Iowa about Student Loan Rates

Source: WH, 4-25-12<

President Barack Obama Listens to Senior Marissa Boles During a Roundtable Discussion

President Barack Obama listens to senior Marissa Boles during a roundtable discussion with students currently receiving Stafford federal student loans at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, April 25, 2012. Also participating in the discussion were students Blake Anderson, center, Myranda Burnett, Jordan Garrsion-Nickerson and Martin Lopez. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama wrapped up a three-city tour in Iowa today by speaking to students at the University of Iowa about the best tool they’ve got for achieving the American promise: a college education.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it. That’s part of what made us special. That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine. That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.

Now, here’s the challenge we’ve got. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled. And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt. The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt. And in this state, it’s even higher. Americans now owe more on their student loans than they owe on credit cards.

And living with that debt means you’ve got to make some pretty tough choices. It might mean putting off buying a first home or chasing that great startup idea that you’ve got. Maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to start a family or save for retirement. And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough on middle-class families — that’s not good for our economy, because that money that could be going into businesses is going just to service debt.

To make matters worse, interest rates on federal Stafford loans are set to double in July, saddling more than 7 million students with an additional $1,000 in debt. Congress has the power to stop this from happening, however, and as he did in North Carolina and Colorado earlier this week, the President asked students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t Double My Rate.

Raise your voice and reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1.


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa

1:28 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Hawkeyes!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Iowa!  (Applause.)  Can folks please give it up for Blake for that outstanding introduction?  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the University of Iowa Pep Band for firing everybody up. (Applause.)

There is some good hospitality here, and I should know.  I spent a little time here in Iowa, spent a little time here in Iowa City.  I’m glad that my hometown of Chicago will get to return the hospitality when your football team kicks off its season at Soldier Field.  (Applause.)

I want to thank a couple guests — first of all, your Congressman, Dave Loebsack, is here.  (Applause.)  Attorney General Tom Miller.  (Applause.)  State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Matt Hayek.  (Applause.)   The President of the University of Iowa, Sally Mason.  (Applause.)

So I have come to the University of Iowa to talk a little bit about you and some of the issues you guys are dealing with every single day.  Now, I believe that college isn’t just the best investment that you can make in your future — it’s the best investment you can make in your country’s future.  And I’m proud of all of you for making that investment — because it’s never been more important.  (Applause.)

In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  That’s at the top.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. A higher education is the single clearest path to the middle class.

I know that those of you who are about to graduate are wondering what’s in store for your future — because not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus, and now, four years later, you’re looking at what it means when you leave this campus.

The good news is, today our economy is recovering.  That’s the good news.  (Applause.)  But I’ll be honest with you.  It has not yet fully healed from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years.  (Applause.)  But there’s still a lot of Americans who are out there looking for a job or at least finding a job that pays the bills and helps cover the mortgage.  There’s still too many families who don’t have that security, that basic middle-class security that started slipping away even before this crisis hit.

But what I want all of you to know is that the degree you earn from Iowa will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, if you give it your all, if you’re responsible, then you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little away for retirement.  It’s the idea that each generation is going to have a little more opportunity than the last.  (Applause.)  That’s at the heart of the American Dream.

And I can tell you, as a parent now, when I see Malia and Sasha doing well, there’s nothing more important to me.  And that’s true for American families everywhere, and it’s the hope your parents have for you.  That’s the hope you’ll have some day for your own kids.  And keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want this a country — I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of people are doing really, really well, and then a growing number are barely able to get by.  I don’t want that future for you.  I don’t want it for my daughters.  I don’t want it for America.  (Applause.)

I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know.  That’s the America I love.  And that’s the America within our reach if we work for it.  (Applause.)

And this is personal for me —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Barack!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I love you guys, and I believe in you guys — that’s the most important thing.  I believe in you.  And I believe in your future.  (Applause.)

And I think about my own life.  My grandfather had the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it through the GI Bill.  (Applause.)  My mom was a single mom — my dad wasn’t around — and she raised two kids by herself with some help from my grandparents because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  And I’m only here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.  That’s how we succeeded.  (Applause.)

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it.  That’s part of what made us special.  That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.

Now, here’s the challenge we’ve got.  Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt.  And in this state, it’s even higher.  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they owe on credit cards.

And living with that debt means you’ve got to make some pretty tough choices.  It might mean putting off buying a first home or chasing that great startup idea that you’ve got.  Maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to start a family or save for retirement.  And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough on middle-class families — that’s not good for our economy, because that money that could be going into businesses is going just to service debt.

And as I said, this is personal for me.  I know something about this, because Michelle and I, we went through it.  And it wasn’t that long ago.  We’ve been in your shoes.  We didn’t come from wealthy families.  We needed loans and we needed grants to get our way through.  (Applause.)

And that meant that when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we got married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  So we combined our assets and they were zero.  (Laughter.)  Then we combined our liabilities and they were a lot.  (Laughter.)  So we ended up paying more for our student loans in the first few years that we were married than we paid on our mortgage each month when we finally bought a small condo.  And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income, but we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m the President of the United States — (laughter) — it was only about eight years ago that we finished paying off our student loans.  (Applause.)

And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy making those payments, because once we had Malia and Sasha, we’re trying to save for their college education even as we’re paying off our own college educations.

So this is personal.  This is at the heart of who we are. We’ve got to make college more affordable for more young people. We can’t put the middle class at a disadvantage.  We can’t price out folks who are trying to make sure that they not only succeed for themselves but help the country succeed.  We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  (Applause.)  We can’t do it — especially when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Higher education whether it’s at a four-year institution or a two-year program at a community college — it can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative every family in America should be able to afford.

Before I came out here I had a chance to meet not just with Blake but with a number of other students, and we had a little roundtable.  And the stories they told me were so familiar.  One young man — single mom, she had lost her job.  He was already about $30,000 in debt.  He was only halfway through here at University of Iowa.  Another young woman, her dad had been laid off at Maytag.  They were trying to figure out how to make ends meet.  She’s about to graduate.

Now, what I told them is, you’re making the right decision, because over the lifetime of earnings you will more than earn back this investment you’re making.  But making it more affordable would sure help.  It would sure help.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to have a specific request for you.  I’m going to need your help, Iowa, but let me briefly tell you what we’ve already done to try to make college more affordable, because I’m not just interested in talking the talk, I want to walk the walk.  (Applause.)

So before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to banks who were the middlemen on the federal student loan program.  So they were getting billions of dollars in profits managing a loan program where they had no risk because it was all federally guaranteed loans.  So we changed that.

And there were folks in Washington who fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo.  One of them said it would be “an outrage” to change the system where banks are managing this thing.  But the real outrage was letting them serve as middlemen and siphon off profits, while students were working two or three jobs just to get by.  So we kept at it, and we fought and we fought, and today we don’t have middlemen.  That money is going directly where it should have been to — the first place.  It’s going to help more young people afford college.  (Applause.)

And then last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time only have to pay 10 percent of their monthly income toward loans once they graduate, which means if you decide to become a teacher or a social worker or a guidance counselor, something that doesn’t pay a lot of money, you can still afford to do it because you’ll never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in order to stay current on your loan.  (Applause.)

And then we decided, you know what, you guys need more information about this whole process.  We want students to have access to a simple fact sheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own choices about how to pay for college.  So some of you know we set up this new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to look out for consumers — (applause) — and so they’re now putting out a fact sheet called “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe — which is something Michelle and I could have used when we were in your shoes.

And then what we said was it’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We’ve also got to stop subsidizing skyrocketing tuition, or we’ll run out of money.  So the schools themselves have to keep their tuition lower.  (Applause.)  So we put out the challenge to colleges and universities.  And I’ve told Congress, steer federal aid to those schools that are doing a good job keeping tuition affordable and providing good value, and serving their students well.  And we’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from skyrocketing, the funding you get from taxpayers is going to go down.  We’re going to put money into the schools that are doing a better job.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to hold schools accountable.

Of course, as public universities like this one know, states and state legislatures also have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.) Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, that’s not good.  These budget cuts are one of the biggest reasons why tuition goes up at public colleges and have been over the last decade.  So we’re challenging states: Take responsibility.  If you can find new ways to bring down the cost on college, make it easier for students to graduate, then we’ll help you do it at the federal level.

So that’s what we’ve already done — helped more families, more young people afford a higher education; offer incentives to states and colleges and universities to keep costs down.  That’s what we’ve been doing.  Now comes the tricky part — we got to get Congress to do their part.  And that’s where you come in.  (Applause.)

There are a couple of things I’d like Congress to be doing this year.  First, they need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place when I first came into office, because it’s saving middle-class families thousands of dollars.  They get a tax break when they are helping their kids go to college.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

Second, we need Congress to safeguard aid for low-income students, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know they’re going to be able to count on it.  We’ve got to make sure the Pell grants are there for people who need them.

Number three, we’ve got to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.  That’s an achievable goal.  (Applause.)  And then most immediately — and this is where I really need you guys — Congress needs to act right now to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from shooting up and shaking you down.  That’s where you come in.  (Applause.)
You see, five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half.  That was a good thing to do.  But on July 1st of this year, which means about two months from now, that rate cut will expire.  And if it expires, interest rates on these loans will double overnight.  And for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  That’s basically a $1,000 tax hike on more than 7 million students around America, including 250,000 students right here in Iowa.

Now, let me see.  I’ll do a quick poll — this may be unscientific.  How many people can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.  Stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer.  (Coughs.)  It makes me sick just thinking about it.  (Laughter and applause.)  Helping more young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  And it shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue.  This is an American issue.  (Applause.)  The Stafford loans we’re talking about were named after a Republican senator; Pell grants named after a Democratic senator.  When Congress cut these rates five years ago, a majority of Democrats voted for it, but 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it too.

Now, the good news is, the Senate introduced a bill last night that would keep student loan rates from doubling.  That’s the good news.  (Applause.)  And what’s also good news is some Republican senators look like they might support it.  And I’m ready to work with them to make it happen.  That’s good.  (Applause.)

But I’ve got to tell you, the Republicans who run the House of Representatives have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling.  And they’ve hinted that the only way they’d do it is if they cut things like aid for low-income students.  So let me scratch my head there for a second.  Think about that.  We’re going to help some students by messing with other students.  That’s not a good answer.  How many people think that’s a good answer?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t think so.  One of these members of Congress — sometimes I like just getting these quotes, because I’m always interested in how folks talk about this issue. You’ve got one member of Congress who compared these student loans — I’m not kidding here — to a “stage-three cancer of socialism.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Stage-three cancer?  (Laughter.)  I don’t know where to start.  What do you mean?  (Laughter.)  What are you talking about?  (Applause.)  Come on.  Just when you think you’ve heard it all in Washington, somebody comes up with a new way to go off the deep end.  (Laughter.)

And then, you’ve got the spokesman for the Speaker of the House who says, we’re — meaning me, my administration — we’re just talking about student loans to distract people from the economy.  Now, think about that for a second.  Because these guys don’t get it — this is the economy.  (Applause.)  This is the economy.  This is about your job security.  This is about your future.  If you do well, the economy does well.  This is about the economy.  (Applause.)

What economy are they talking about?  You are the economy.  If you’ve got skills, if you’ve got talents, if you’re starting a business, if companies are locating here in Iowa because it’s got a well-trained workforce, that’s the economy.  That’s how we’re going to compete.  Making sure our next generation earns the best education possible is exactly America’s business.  (Applause.)  Making sure that education is available to everybody and not just the few — that is America’s business.  Our future depends on it. (Applause.)

And then, some of them suggest that students like you have to pay more so we can help bring down the deficit.  Now, think about that.  These are the same folks who ran up the deficits for the last decade.  They voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits.  They voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers.  They voted to give folks like me, the wealthiest Americans, an average tax cut of at least $150,000 — and that tax cut would be paid for by cutting things like education, and job training programs that give students and workers opportunities to get what they need to succeed.

Now, does that make any sense?  Does that sound like folks who are really concerned with the deficit?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  How can we want to maintain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them?  I don’t need one.  I needed help back when I was your age.  I don’t need help now.  (Applause.)  I don’t need an extra thousand dollars or a few thousand dollars.  You do.

We need to make sure everybody pays their fair share.  How can we continue to subsidize an oil industry that’s making record profits instead of investing in things like clean energy that will help shape our future?  (Applause.)  Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students?  Or do we want to keep investing in the things that help us in the long term — things like education and science, and a strong military, and care for our veterans?  Because we can’t have it both ways.  We can’t do all things on the cheap.

And one thing I want to be clear about — because when I talk like this, sometimes the other side, they get all hot and bothered, and they say, he’s getting — he’s engaging in class warfare.  This isn’t about class warfare.  We want every American to succeed.  That’s the point.  I want all of you to be rich.  (Applause.)  I want all of you to be successful.  We aspire to it.  That’s what Americans do.  We work and we hustle, and we study, and we take risks — to succeed.  And we don’t expect a handout.  But we also understand we’re in this thing together, and America is not about just a few people doing well, it’s about everybody having a chance to do well.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.  (Applause.)

You look at this auditorium — everybody who’s here, you’re here because somebody made a commitment to you.  First, your parents.  But it wasn’t just your parents — the folks who decided, you know what, we’re going to set up a public university.  It was the folks who made a decision early on in this republic that said we believe that all men are created equal, that everybody is endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — those were commitments that were made by previous generations to future generations.

So somebody here had a parent or a grandparent who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son can.  (Applause.)  Maybe I can’t start my own business, but some day I can picture my daughter starting her own business.  Maybe I’m an immigrant, but I believe that this is the country, this is the place where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)  That’s what we believe. (Applause.)

That is what we believe.  You and me, all of us — we’re only here because someone, somewhere, felt a responsibility not just to themselves, but to this country’s future.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  Now it’s our turn to keep that promise alive.  That’s where I need your help.

I’m asking everybody here, anybody who’s watching, anybody who’s following online — send your member of Congress a message. Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  Call them, email them, write on their Facebook page, tweet.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got a hashtag — #dontdoublemyrate.  (Laughter and applause.)  Dontdoublemyrate.  Dontdoublemyrate.  (Applause.)

We asked students at North Carolina, then at University of Colorado to do this yesterday — they got it trending worldwide for a while.  Let’s see if you guys can do even better.  (Applause.)  See how the Hawkeyes can do.  Because we’ve got to keep the heat on Congress until this gets done.  And I need your help to do it.  I need you to be heard.  I need you to be counted.

Now is not the time to double the interest rates on our student loans.  Now is not the time to double interest rates.  Now is the time to double down on starting investments that build a strong and secure middle class.  Now is the time to double down on building an America that’s built to last.

If we work together, with clear eyes and a common purpose, I guarantee you we’ll meet our challenges.  We will rise to this moment.  And the reason I know that is because I believe in you. I believe in you.  (Applause.)  And it’s because of you that we will remind everybody just why it is that this is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, Iowa.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

END
2:57 P.M. CDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Student Loans Interest Rates Doubling at the University of Colorado Boulder

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: College Is the Best Investment You Can Make

Source: WH, 4-25-12

President Obama at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on interest rates on student loans at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo., April 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by by Chuck Kennedy)

If Congress doesn’t act, more than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1 of this year. President Obama believes that this is unacceptable: Higher education cannot be a luxury in this country. It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford.

On Tuesday, the President visited universities in Colorado and North Carolina to talk with students about the importance of keeping interest rates on student loans low so that more Americans can get a fair shot at an affordable college education that will provide the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to middle class. President Obama also paid a visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which was taping at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he “slow jammed” the news, explaining, “Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.”

During a call with college reporters, the President explained why the battle over college affordability is one he is willing to fight:

 “I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student — because the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  And it’s never been more important. Unfortunately, it’s also never been more expensive.  And most of you guys I’m sure have reported about this and know this — students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000 a year. And I know what this is like, because when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school we had enormous debts, and it took us a lot of years to pay off.  So that’s probably why I feel this thing so personally.”

In Colorado, President Obama repeated his call for students to take action and make sure their voices are being heard:

“You need to send a message to your member of Congress. Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  You call them, you email them, you write on their Facebook page, tweet.  We’ve got, actually, a hashtag that I want everybody to use — #dontdoublemyrate.”

President Obama talks to patrons at the Sink in Boulder, Colo

President Barack Obama talks to patrons at the Sink turning a local stop in Boulder, Colo., April 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President–Boulder, Colorado

University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado

7:20 P.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Boulder!  (Applause.)  How’s it going, Buffaloes?  (Applause.)  Well, you guys are just happy because school is almost out, isn’t it?  (Laughter.)

Please give Daniel a big round of applause for that great introduction.  (Applause.)  I just saw Daniel over at The Sink.  (Applause.)  I bought some pizza.  And I heard a rumor that Robert Redford used to work there.

AUDIENCE:  Yess!

THE PRESIDENT:  So that’s just a sign — always be nice to your server because you never know where they’ll end up.  (Laughter.)  I will say that I was shaking hands with folks outside and a young woman — she got very excited and spilled yogurt on me.  (Laughter.)  More hazardly, she spilled yogurt on the Secret Service, which you — (laughter) — the agent just stood there, just looking at her.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank the Chancellor of UC Boulder, Phil DiStefano.  Give him a big round of applause for having me here today.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, Joe Garcia, in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you for being indoors when it is gorgeous outside.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve just come from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill — (applause.)  I was talking to another good-looking group of students.  Jimmy Fallon and I taped his show there tonight — make sure to tune in.  (Laughter.)  But we saved the prime-time event for Boulder.  (Applause.)

And I’ve come here to talk to you about what most of you are focused on every day — at least you’re supposed to be — and that is studying and college.  Look, college isn’t just the best investment you can make in your future — it is the best investment that you can make in your country’s future.  I believe that.  (Applause.)

And by the way, I just want to say, all of you who have seats, feel free to sit down.  (Laughter.)  Because it’s hot in here and I don’t want folks dropping off.  (Laughter.)  There you go, make yourself comfortable.  Take a load off.  (Applause.)

So I’m proud of all of you for doing what it takes to make this investment in a college education because it has never been more important.

In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  Higher education, whether it’s a four-year college or two years at a community college, is the clearest path we’ve got to the middle class.

Now, I know that those of you who are about to graduate — (applause) — you’re pretty cheerful about that, huh?  (Laughter.)  I know those of you who are about to graduate sometimes are wondering what’s in store for your future.  Because not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus.  And today, our economy is recovering, but it’s not yet fully recovered from the worst financial crisis and economic crisis that we’ve experienced since the Great Depression.

Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years.  (Applause.)  But there are still too many Americans who are out there looking for a job or trying to figure out how to pay the bills and cover the mortgage.  There are too many folks who still lack the basic security that has always been at the heart of the American promise, but has been slipping away for more than a decade now, even before the recession hit.

But here’s the thing.  I want all of you to know that the degree you earn from Colorado is going to be the best tool that you’ve got to achieve the American promise.  (Applause.)  By far. That basic idea that if you work hard, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, if you work hard you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little bit away for retirement.  That idea that each generation has a little more opportunity than the last.

I can tell you that now as a parent.  When I look at Malia and Sasha — sometimes I coach Sasha’s basketball games, and if she scores a basket I am so excited, compared to when I used to score a basket.  (Laughter.)  It’s the hope that all your parents have for you — that your own kids will surpass you; that they’re going to be able to shine as bright as they can imagine.  And that’s the dream that your parents have for you.

And keeping that promise alive, that’s the defining issue of our time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We believe in you!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I believe in you.  I believe in you.  (Applause.)  I believe in you.

And I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing really, really well while a growing number are struggling to get by.  (Applause.)  That’s not the future I want for you.  That’s not the future I want for my daughters.  I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know.  That’s the America I love.

It’s a big and bold and generous America.  It’s not a cramped America.  It’s not an America that says, set your sights lower.  And that’s the America that’s within our reach.

You know, I think back sometimes to my own circumstances.  My grandfather had the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to go to school.  (Applause.)  And then my mother was able to raise two kids by herself while she was going to school because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  (Applause.)  And then I’m only standing here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.

We didn’t come from well-to-do backgrounds.  We didn’t have famous families.  But it wasn’t just that we worked hard.  It was also that somebody made an investment in us.  (Applause.)  That’s what America did for us.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody.  Everybody who’s willing to work for it, we’ve said, you know what, you’ve got a shot.  That’s what makes us special.  That’s what makes us exceptional.
That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  And that’s the commitment that we’ve got to reaffirm today.  (Applause.)  That’s what we believe in.

But I don’t need to tell all of you that it’s gotten harder. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at American colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates about $25,000 in student loan debt.  Not good.  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

And living with that kind of debt means some pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It means putting off buying your first house.  Or it means maybe you can’t start up that business right away that you’ve got this great idea for.

When I was over at The Sink I was talking to three business majors, and they all had these business ideas.  But it’s tougher if you’ve got all this loan that you’re already thinking about the minute you get out of school.  Maybe you’ve got to start a family a little bit later.  It takes you a longer time to save for retirement.  And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you.  It’s not just tough on your families.  It’s painful for the whole economy because that’s money that could be going into the economy and could be going into new businesses and could be helping businesses grow.

And I want to point out — listen, I know about this firsthand.  Michelle and I, we know about this firsthand.  This is not something I read in a briefing book.  (Laughter.)  This is not some abstract idea for us.  We’ve been in your shoes.  When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt, both of us.  That means when we got married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  We added our assets together, and they were zero.  (Laughter.)  And then we added our liabilities together, and they were a lot.  (Laughter.)

We paid more for our student loans than we paid for our mortgage each month when we first bought our small condo in Chicago.  And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income, but we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m the President of the United States and — (laughter and applause) — so here I am, and we were writing those checks every month.  And that wasn’t easy, especially when we had Malia and Sasha, because at that point, we’re supposed to be saving for their college educations, and we’re still paying off on our college educations.  So I’ve been in your shoes.  I know what I am talking about here.  This is not something that I just read about.

So we’ve got to make college more affordable for you.  (Applause.)  We cannot price the middle class out of a college education.  When most new jobs in America require more than a high school diploma, higher education — whether at a four-year college, at a two-year program — it can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative for every family in America.  And every family in America should be able to afford it.

As long as those young people are willing to put in the work, as long as you’re willing to study hard and take advantage of this opportunity, then we’ve got to make sure it’s there for you.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to be asking for your help, but let me tell you what I’ve already done on this issue, Colorado, because I think it’s important to know that we haven’t just been talking the talk — we’ve been walking the walk — to try to help make college more affordable.

Before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to subsidize banks in the student loan program instead of going to students.  So we changed it.  We cut out the middleman.  We said, why do we need the banks?  They’re not taking a risk.  These are federally guaranteed loans; let’s give the money directly to students.  (Applause.)

And I have to tell you, there were folks in Washington who fought us tooth and nail because they wanted to protect the status quo.  One of them, when they heard that we wanted to take this business away from the banks, they said, this is “an outrage.”  But the real outrage was letting these banks keep these subsidies while students were working two or three jobs just to try to pay tuition.

So we kept at it, and we kept at it, and we won that fight. And today, that money is going directly to where it should have been going in the first place, and that’s helping millions of young people afford a college education.  (Applause.)

And then last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time, they have the option of only paying 10 percent of their monthly income towards loans once they graduate.  And that means if you decide to be a teacher, or you decide to be a social worker, or you’re going into a profession that doesn’t  pay a lot of money, you still have that option, because you know that your monthly payment will be manageable.  (Applause.)  And that’s important.  (Applause.)

And then we decided we’ve got to make sure every student has access to a simple fact sheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make intelligent choices on your own about how to pay for college.  So some of you know we created this new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  It’s a watchdog for consumers.  (Applause.)  And one of their mandates is to focus on student loans.  And so they’ve produced a website and fact sheets called “Know Before You Owe” — “Know Before You Owe” — which is something I wish Michelle and I knew about, wish we had had.

So we’ve done those steps to help provide you good information and to make sure that we’ve expanded access to Pell grants and student loans.  But that’s not enough.  It’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We can’t keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition, or we’re just going to run out of money.  We’ll just run out of money.  (Applause.)

So what I said to colleges and universities is, you guys have to do your parts to keep costs down.  (Applause.)  And I’ve told Congress, steer federal aid to those schools that keep tuition affordable and provide good value and serve their students well.  We’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t show us that you’re making every effort to keep tuition from going up, then funding from taxpayers will go down.  You’ve got to make an effort.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to hold colleges accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Of course, public universities like this one also understand that states have to do their part, state legislators have to do their part in making higher education a priority.  (Applause.)  Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.  These budget cuts have been one of the biggest factors in your tuition going up.  So we’re challenging states to take responsibility.  We told them, if you can bring — find new ways to bring down costs of college, make it easier for students to graduate, we’ll help you do it.

So that’s what we’ve already done.  We’ve helped families, helped more young people afford a higher education.  We’re offering incentives to states and colleges and universities to keep costs down.  And now, guess what, Congress has to do their part.  (Applause.)  Congress has to do their part.  (Applause.)

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place when I first came into office that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars.  They need to safeguard aid for low-income students, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know they’re going to be able to count on it.  Our Pell grants have to be there for students.  They need to give more young people the chance to earn your way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.  (Applause.)

And then there’s something that they’ve got to do right now. They have to prevent the interest rates on federal student loans from shooting up and shaking you down.  And that’s where you come in.  (Applause.)

All right.  Now, five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half.  That’s five years ago.  Not the current Congress, Congress five years ago.  (Laughter.)  On July 1st of this year, two months from now, that rate cut expires.  I want everybody to understand this.  Interest rates on those loans will double overnight, starting on July 1st, if Congress does not act.  And for each year that Congress does not act, the average student with these loans is going to rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  So this is money out of your pocket.  It’s basically a $1,000 tax hike for more than 7 million students across America  — almost 170,000 students here in Colorado alone.

Now, I just want to see a show of hands because I want to make sure I’m not misinformed here.  How many of you can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?  I didn’t think so.  So stopping this should be a no-brainer.  Helping more of our young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue.  Think about it.  (Applause.)  This wasn’t a partisan issue in the past.  The Stafford loans, that’s named after a Republican senator.  Pell grants, they’re named after a Democratic senator.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  America!

THE PRESIDENT:  America.  (Laughter.)  That’s what we’re supposed to be thinking about.

Look, when Congress cut these rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it.  Of course, a couple hundred Democrats voted for it, but that’s okay. It was a bipartisan effort.  Today you’ve got Republicans who run Congress, and they’re not saying whether or not they’re going to stop your rates from doubling.  Some have hinted that they’d only do it if we cut things like aid for low-income students instead. So think about this.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ll say, we’ll keep your rates low as long as we’re messing with folks who need them even more.  Does that make sense to you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to read a quote.  This is from a Republican congresswoman.  I didn’t really understand this.  (Laughter.)  I’m quoting her.  She said that she has “very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt… because there’s no reason for that.”  She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity “dumped in your lap.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  You guys can Google her or what have you, but — (laughter) — now, think about that.  Think about that.  I can tell you, Michelle and I, we didn’t take out loans because we were lazy.  (Laughter.)  You didn’t take out loans because you’re lazy.  You don’t take out loans lightly.  You don’t say to yourself, man, this is great, I’m going to be really in debt.  (Laughter.)  I’m thrilled.  You did it because the cost of college kept on going up, and you’re trying to graduate.

And if these guys were serious about making college more affordable, then they wouldn’t be voting to cut financial aid in their — their budget, if you look at their budget, what it means is you’re going to be cutting aid for 10 million college students by an average of more than $1,000.  They certainly wouldn’t let student rates double overnight if they really cared about this issue.

They say that, well, we’ve got to do it because we’ve got to bring down the deficit.  Now, first of all, these guys ran up the deficit.  (Applause.)  Remember, these are the same folks who voted in favor of two wars without paying for it, and big tax cuts without paying for it.  They just voted to keep billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits.  They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying low tax rates — lower tax rates than middle-class workers.  They just voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to the wealthiest Americans — folks like me who don’t need it, weren’t asking for it.  And the way they pay for it is to cut things like education and job training that give students opportunities to work and succeed.  So they can’t be too serious about deficits.

I mean, do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them, didn’t ask for them, the country can’t afford it?  Or do we want to make sure that everybody pays their fair share, and make sure that young people are able to afford to go to college?  (Applause.)

Do we want to keep giving taxpayer giveaways to big oil?  Or do we want to invest in clean energy and do we want to make sure that we’re rebuilding this country?  (Applause.)  And make sure that we can keep interest rates on millions of students affordable?  We need to be investing in the things that build America over the long term.  Things like education and science, a caring for our veterans, and a strong military.  (Applause.)  And we can’t have it both ways.  We’ve got to make choices.

In America, we admire success.  We aspire to it.  I want everybody here to do great, be rich, go out and start a business. That’s wonderful.   We work and we hustle, you study hard to get your degree — because you believe in success and individual initiative.  But America is not just about a few people doing well.  America is about everybody having the chance to do well.  (Applause.)  That’s what the American Dream is all about.  (Applause.)

Some of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son can go to college.  Maybe I can’t start my own business, but some day my daughter, she can start her own business.  Maybe I’m an immigrant and I won’t have every opportunity, but I believe that in this country, is this place, this is a place where no matter who you are or what you look like, or where you come from or what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  That’s what America is about.  (Applause.)  That’s who we are.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)
So let me just be clear here.  We need to send a message to folks who don’t seem to get this that “setting your sights lower,” that’s not an education plan.  “You’re on your own” — that’s not an economic plan.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.

Earlier generations made investments necessary to build a strong middle class.  Somebody started this university.  Somebody gave us a chance.  Somebody made the investment in us because they helped to forge America’s leadership in things like science and technology and manufacturing.  That’s what previous generations did, and now it’s our turn.  Somebody here might be discovering the cure for cancer.  Somebody here might be getting the formula for fusion.  Somebody here might be inventing the next great American industry.  But that’s only going to happen if we understand that we’re in this together.

And that’s why I need your help.  I’m asking everybody who’s here and anybody who’s watching, anybody who’s following online, you need to send a message to your member of Congress.  Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  You call them, you email them, you write on their Facebook page, tweet.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got, actually, a hashtag that I want everybody to use — #dontdoublemyrate.  It’s pretty — everybody, I want you to repeat that.

AUDIENCE:  Dontdoublemyrate.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dontdoublemyrate.

AUDIENCE:  Dontdoublemyrate.  I asked students at North Carolina to do this earlier today and they got it trending worldwide for a while.  So let’s see if you can do better — (applause) — because we’ve got to keep the heat on.  Your voice matters.  You’ve got to stand up.  You’ve got to be heard.  You’ve got to be counted.  You’ve got to tell them now is not the time to double your interest rates on student loans.  Now is the time to double down on the investments in a strong and a secure middle class, and double down on an America that’s built to last.

You, me, all of us, we’re here because somebody, somewhere — starting with our parents or our grandparents or our great grandparents — they made an investment not just in themselves, but in each other and in the future of our country.  And now it’s our turn.  It’s our turn to keep that promise alive.

And that’s what drives me every single day.  I used to — when I was running for this office, I said to people, look, I will not be a perfect man or a perfect President, but here’s what I can do:  I can work every single day as hard as I know how to make sure that you’ve got a chance, to make sure you can live out your hopes and your dreams.  And I’m not about to quit now.  We don’t give up here in America.  We get up.  We get each other’s back.  We help each other get ahead.  We work together.  (Applause.)

And if you all are willing to join me, I guarantee you not only will we stop these interest rates from going up, but we’re going to remind the rest of the world just why it is that America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
7:52 P.M. MDT

Remarks by the President to College Reporters

Via Telephone, Aboard Air Force One, En Route Boulder, Colorado

4:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everybody.  Thanks for being on the call.  And first of all, let me apologize if the connection sounds fuzzy.  As was just mentioned, I’m joining you guys on Air Force One.

I’m just leaving North Carolina; I was at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Now I’m on my way to the University of Colorado at Boulder.  And tomorrow we’re going to be at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  And what we’re doing is going to schools to talk to students directly about the critical importance of the possibility that 7.4 million students with federal student loans would see their interest rates double on July 1st unless Congress steps up and does what it needs to do.

I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student — because the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  And it’s never been more important.  Unfortunately, it’s also never been more expensive.  And most of you guys I’m sure have reported about this and know this — students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000 a year.  And I know what this is like, because when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school we had enormous debts, and it took us a lot of years to pay off.  So that’s probably why I feel this thing so personally.

For a lot of working families, the idea of owing that much money means higher education is simply out of reach for their children.  And for the first time now we’ve got Americans owing more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

The key point here is, is that in America, higher education can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family has got to be able to afford.  We’ve already taken some important steps to make college more affordable.  So, for example, we extended Pell grants to 3 million more students, and we signed a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help middle-class families cover the cost of tuition.  We’ve eliminated a major expense for young people by allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they’re 26.

But there’s clearly more work to be done.  And that’s why I’m going to colleges across the country.  I want to talk to students right now about how we can make higher education more affordable, and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it.

So the key point I want to make:  If Congress doesn’t act on July 1st, interest rates on Stafford loans, on student loans from the federal government will double.  Nearly 7.5 million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.  And that would be, obviously, a tremendous blow.  And it’s completely preventable.

And for some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable, to prevent these interest rates from doubling, and to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, but also, to double the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.

And instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, even while they’re voting for huge tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — tax cuts that, by the way, would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

So the bottom line here is we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education, allowing them to earn their degrees — that’s nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.  And Congress has to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.

And I have to say, from my perspective, this is a question of values.  We can’t let America become a country where a shrinking number of people are doing really well, a growing number of people struggle to get by, and you’ve got fewer ladders for people to climb into the middle class and to get opportunity.  We’ve got to build an economy where everybody is getting a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That’s ultimately how the middle class gets stronger.  And that’s an economy that’s built to last.

So I’m going to take this issue to every part of the country this year.  I’m going to keep focusing on it until Congress passes legislation to keep interest rates low and to continue to give students the chance to get the college education they need for the jobs of today, but also for the jobs of tomorrow.

And part of the reason I wanted to be on this call is to let you know, very personally, I need your help on this.  I need you all to tell your readers and your listeners why they’ve got to speak up, why they’ve got to speak out.  Let Congress know that they need to do the right thing.  And for those of you on Twitter, use the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate.  That’s #dontdoublemyrate.

Because we don’t want Congress to double the interest rates on so many students.  We need to reward hard work and responsibility.  And part of that is keeping interest rates on student loans low so more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, a clear path to the middle class that’s not blocked by a mountain of debt.  And the time to act is right now, and I’m going to need your help getting that message out.

So thanks so much to all of you for being on the call.  And thanks for taking the time to shine a light on this important issue.  And I know that our team is going to be on the phone call after I hang up.  They can answer a bunch of specific details that you may have.

Talk to you soon.  Bye-bye.

END 4:14 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Woos Student Voters & Pushes Congress to Prevent Low-Rate Student Loans from Doubling

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Asks Students to Tell Congress: #DontDoubleMyRate

Source: WH, 4-24-12

 

President Obama was at the University of North Carolina this afternoon asking students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t double my rates.

Five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half. That was a good thing to do. But on July 1st — that’s a little over two months from now — that rate cut expires.  And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight…. And just to give you some sense of perspective — for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt — an extra thousand dollars.  That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America — more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone.

President Obama said that stopping this from happening — and helping more young people afford college — should be a no-brainer because in today’s economy, a college degree is an economic imperative:

In today’s economy, there is no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.

And a college education –whether from a two-year or four-year school – shouldn’t be something that only some families can afford. A good education should be within reach for all students willing to work for it. But tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled since today’s college students were born, and students are taking on more debt to pay for it.

President Obama has worked to help more young people and their families afford a higher education. His Administration is offering incentives for states, colleges, and universities to keep costs down. And now he’s calling on Congress to do their part, and he’s asking students to help make sure they do.

But I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online — call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate. All right?  I’m going to repeat that — the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.

… Your voice matters. Stand up. Be heard. Be counted. Tell them now is not the time to double the interest rate on your student loans. Now is the time to double down on smart investments that build a strong and secure middle class. Now is the time to double down on an America that’s built to last.  


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability — University of North Carolina

University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

1:13 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Hello, North Carolina!  (Applause.)  What’s up, Tar Heels?  (Applause.)

Now, first of all, I want to thank Domonique for that unbelievable introduction.  Wasn’t she good?  (Applause.)  You can tell she will be an outstanding teacher.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, President Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back, I do.  (Applause.)  Love North Carolina.  I love North Carolina.  (Applause.)  I do.  Every time I come down to this state I just love it that much more.  (Applause.)  I said a while back, the thing about North Carolina is even the folks who don’t vote for me are nice to me.  (Laughter.)  I can’t say that about everyplace.  (Laughter.)

Now, I want to issue a quick spoiler alert:  Later today, I am getting together with Jimmy Fallon — (applause) — and the Dave Matthews Band — (applause) — right here on campus.  We’re going to tape Jimmy’s show for tonight — so I want everybody to tune in, make sure it has high ratings.  (Laughter.)  It’s a Dave Matthews fan right here.

We’ve got some wonderful people who are here who are doing a great job for you guys.  First of all, your Governor, Bev Perdue, is in the house.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  There she is.  We’ve got your Congressman, Dave Price — Congressman David Price.  (Applause.)  Congressmen GK Butterfield.  (Applause.)  Congressman Brad Miller.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt.  (Applause.)  Chancellor of UNC, Holden Thorp.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  It is great to be back on the Lady Tar Heels’ home court.  (Applause.)  This is an arena with some serious hoops history.  I know the men’s team used to play here back in the day.  I just want to remind you right off the bat — I picked UNC to win it all in March Madness.  (Applause.)  Want to point out.  And if Kendall hadn’t gotten hurt — (laughter)  — who knows where we might have been.

I saw McAdoo, by the way, at the airport.  He came by and said hello, which I was excited — so I just want you to know I have faith in you guys.  (Applause.)

Now, it’s always good to begin with some easy applause lines — talk about the Tar Heels.  (Laughter.)  But the reason I came to Chapel Hill today is to talk about what most of you do here every single day — and that’s study, I assume.  (Laughter.)  Higher education is the single most important investment you can make in your future.  (Applause.)  So I’m proud of all of you for doing what it takes to make that investment — for the long hours in the library — I hope — (laughter) — in the lab, in the classroom.  This has never been more important.

Whether you’re here at a four-year college or university, or you’re at a two-year community college, in today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  (Applause.)  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  The incomes of folks with a college degree are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  A higher education is the clearest path into the middle class.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that those of you who are about to graduate are wondering about what’s in store for your future.  Not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus.  And you’ve spent your years here at a time when the whole world has been trying to recover, but has not yet fully recovered from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in most of our lifetimes — and that includes your teachers.

Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years, but we all know there’s still too many Americans out there looking for work or trying to find a job that pays enough to cover the bills and make the mortgage.  We still have too many folks in the middle class that are searching for that security that started slipping away years before the recession hit.

So we’ve still got a lot of work to do to rebuild this economy so that it lasts, so that it’s solid, so that it’s firm.  But what I want you to know is that the degree you earn from UNC will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little away for retirement.  (Applause.)  That American Dream is within your reach.  (Applause.)

And there’s another part of this dream, which is the idea that each generation is going to know a little bit more opportunity than the last generation.  That our kids — I can tell you now as a parent — and I guarantee you, your parents feel this about you — nothing is more important than your kid’s success.  You want them to do better than you did.  (Applause.)   You want them to shoot higher, strive more, and succeed beyond your imagination.

So keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing really, really well, but a growing number of people are just struggling to get by.  That’s not my idea of America.  (Applause.)  I don’t want that future for you.  I don’t want that future for my daughters.  I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know and love.  That’s the America within our reach.

I think back to my grandfather.  He had a chance to go to college because this country decided every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it, should be able to go to college.  (Applause.)  My mother was able to raise two kids by herself because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  (Applause.)  I am only standing here today, Michelle is only who she is today — (applause) — because of scholarships and student loans.  That gave us a shot at a great education.  We didn’t come from families of means, but we knew that if we worked hard we’d have a shot.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it.  That’s what makes us special.  That’s what made us an economic superpower.  That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  And that’s a commitment we have to reaffirm today in 2012.  (Applause.)

Now, everybody will give lip service to this.  You’ll hear a lot of folks say, yes, education is important — it’s important.  (Laughter.)  But it requires not just words but deeds.  And the fact is, that since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out a lot more loans.  There are fewer grants.  You rack up more debt.  Can I get an “amen”?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, the average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt.  That’s the average — some are more.  Can I get an “amen” for that?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes — because some folks have more debt than that.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!  (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And living with that kind of debt means that this generation is not getting off to the same start that previous generations — because you’re already loaded up with debt.  So that means you’ve got to make pretty tough choices when you are first starting out.  You might have to put off buying a house.  It might mean that you can’t go after that great idea for a startup that you have, because you’re still paying off loans.  Maybe you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or save for retirement.

When a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s not just tough on your parents — it’s painful for the economy, because that money is not going to help businesses grow.  I mean, think about the sooner you can start buying a house, that’s good for the housing industry.  The sooner you can start up that business, that means you’re hiring some folks — that grows the economy.

And this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I just wanted everybody here to understand this is not — I didn’t just read about this.  (Laughter and applause.)  I didn’t just get some talking points about this.  I didn’t just get a policy briefing on this.  Michelle and I, we’ve been in your shoes.  Like I said, we didn’t come from wealthy families.

So when we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter and applause.)  We added up our assets and there were no assets.  (Laughter.)  And we added up our liabilities and there were a lot of liabilities, basically in the form of student loans.  We paid more in student loans than we paid on our mortgage when we finally did buy a condo.  For the first eight years of our marriage, we were paying more in student loans than what we were paying for our mortgage.  So we know what this is about.

And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. But we only finished paying off our student loans — check this out, all right, I’m the President of the United States — (applause) — we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  (Laughter.)  That wasn’t that long ago.  And that wasn’t easy, especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations.

So we have to make college more affordable for our young people.  That’s the bottom line.  (Applause.)  And like I said, look, not everybody is going to go to a four-year college or university.  You may go to a community college.  You may go to a technical school and get into the workforce.  And then, it may turn out that after you’ve had kids and you’re 35, you go back to school because you’re retraining for something new.  But no matter what it is, no matter what field you’re in, you’re going to have to engage in lifelong learning.  That’s the nature of the economy today.  And we’ve got to make sure that’s affordable.

That’s good for the country; it’s good for you.  At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we’ve got to make sure that you’re not saddled with debt before you even get started in life.  (Applause.)  Because I believe college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future — it’s one of the best investments America can make in our future.  This is important for all of us.  (Applause.)

We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  Not at a time when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Whether it’s at a four-year college or a two-year program, we can’t make higher education a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative.  Every American family should be able to afford it.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  So that’s why I’m here.  Now, before I ask for your help — I’ve got something very specific I’m going to need you to do.  But, North Carolina, indulge me.  I want to briefly tell you what we’ve already done to help make college more affordable, because we’ve done a lot.

Before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to banks, not students.  They were processing student loan programs except the student loans were federally guaranteed so they weren’t taking any big risks, but they were still taking billions of dollars out of the system.  So we changed it.

Some in Washington fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo, where billions of dollars were going to banks instead of students.  And they wanted to protect that.  They wanted to keep those dollars flowing to the banks.

One of them said — and I’m going to quote here because it gives you a sense of the attitudes sometimes we’re dealing with in Washington.  They said, it would be “an outrage” — if we changed the system so that the money wasn’t going through banks and they weren’t making billions of dollars of profits off of it — said it was “an outrage.”

And I said, no, the real outrage is letting these banks keep these subsidies without taking any risks while students are working two or three jobs just to get by.  That’s an outrage.  That’s an outrage.  (Applause.)

So we kept at it, we kept it at — we won that fight.  Today, that money is going where it should be going — should have been going in the first place — it’s going directly to students.  We’re bypassing the middleman.  That means we can raise Pell grants to a higher level.  More people are eligible. More young people are able to afford college because of what we did.  (Applause.)  Over 10 years, that’s going to be $60 billion that’s going to students that wasn’t going to students before.  (Applause.)

Now, then, last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time will only have to pay 10 percent of their monthly income towards loans once they graduate.  (Applause.)  Now, this is useful — this is especially helpful for young people who decide, like Domonique, to become teachers, or maybe they go into one of the —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Social work.

THE PRESIDENT:  — social work or one of the helping professions.  (Applause.)  And they may not get paid a lot of money, but they’ve got a lot of debt.  And so being able to cap how much per month you’re paying as a percentage of your income gives you a little bit more security knowing you can choose that profession.

And then we wanted every student to have access to a simple factsheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own choices about how to pay for college.  And we set up this new consumer watchdog called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — (applause) — and so they’re now putting out this information.  We call it “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe.  It’s something Michelle and I wish we had had when we were in your shoes — because sometimes we got surprised by some of this debt that we were racking up.

So that’s what we’ve done.  But it’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We can’t keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition or we’ll run out of money.  And colleges and universities, they’ve got to do their part also to keep college costs down.  (Applause.)  So I’ve told Congress to steer federal aid to those schools that keep tuition affordable, that provide good value, that serve their students well.  And we’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from just going up every single year a lot faster than inflation, then funding you get from taxpayers, at least at the federal level, will go down — because we need to push colleges to do better, and hold them accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Now, public universities know well, and Governor Perdue knows well — states also have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.)  I know that Bev is fighting hard to make tuition affordable for North Carolina families.  That’s a priority for her.  But last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.  And these budget cuts have been among the largest factors in tuition increases at public colleges over the past decade.  So we’re challenging states to take responsibility.  We told them, if you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for students to graduate, then we’ll help you do it.

But I want everybody here, as you’re thinking about voting, make sure you know where your state representative and your state senator stands when it comes to funding higher education.  (Applause.)  They’ve got to be responsible.  They’ve got to be accountable as well to prioritize higher education.  (Applause.)

All right.  So helping more families, helping more young people afford a higher education; offering incentives for states and colleges and universities to keep their costs down — that’s what we’ve been doing.  Now Congress has to do their part.

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place back when I came into office.  It’s saving middle-class families thousands of dollars.  (Applause.)  Congress needs to safeguard aid for low-income students, like Pell grants, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know that they’ll be able to count on it.  (Applause.)  That’s what Congress has to do.  Congress needs to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.  (Applause.)  That’s what Congress needs to do.

And then there’s one specific thing — and now this is where you come in — there’s one specific thing that Congress needs to do right now to prevent the interest rates on student loans, federal student loans, from shooting up and shaking you down.  So this is where you come in.  I want to explain this, so everybody listen carefully.

Five years ago, Congress cut the rate on federal student loans in half.  That was a good thing to do.  But on July 1st — that’s a little over two months from now — that rate cut expires.  And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight.

So I’m assuming a lot of people here have federal student loans.  The interest rates will double unless Congress acts by July 1st.  And just to give you some sense of perspective — for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt — an extra thousand dollars.  That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America — more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone.  Anybody here can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?

AUDIENCE:  No!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t think so.  So stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer.  Helping more of our young people afford college, that should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic issue.  (Applause.)  This is an American issue.

The Stafford loans we’re talking about, they’re named after a Republican senator.  The Pell grants that have helped millions of Americans earn a college education, that’s named after a Democratic senator.  When Congress cut those rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it — along with a couple hundred Democrats — (laughter) — including the Democrats who are here.  (Applause.)

So this shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  And yet, the Republicans who run Congress right now have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling.  We’re two months away.  Some have hinted that they’d only do it if we cut things like aid for low-income students instead.  So the idea would be, well, all right, we’ll keep interest rates low if we take away aid from other students who need it.  That doesn’t make sense.

One Republican congresswoman said just recently — I’m going to quote this because I know you guys will think I’m making it up — (laughter).

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We trust you.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no.  She said she had “very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m just quoting here.  I’m just quoting.  She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity “dumped in your lap.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I’m reading it here, so I didn’t
make this up.  Now, can you imagine saying something like that?  Those of you who have had to take out student loans, you didn’t do it because you’re lazy.  You didn’t do it lightly.  You don’t like debt.  I mean, a lot of you, your parents are helping out, but it’s tough on them.  They’re straining.  And so you do it because the cost of college keeps going up and you know this is an investment in your future.

So if these folks in Washington were serious about making college more affordable, they wouldn’t have voted for a budget that could cut financial aid for tens of millions of college students by an average of more than $1,000.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Absolutely!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  They certainly wouldn’t let your student loan rates double overnight.  So when you ask them, well, why aren’t you making this commitment?  They say, well, we got to bring down the deficit.  Of course, this is the deficit they helped run up over the past decade.  (Applause.)  Didn’t pay for two wars.  Didn’t pay for two massive tax cuts.  And now this is the reason why you want students to pay more?

They just voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies that are raking in record profits.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers and their secretaries.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They even voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to folks like me, the wealthiest Americans — a tax cut paid for by cutting things like education and job training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

Now, that’s their priorities.  And that doesn’t make any sense.  Do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t ask for them?  Or do we want to make sure that they’re paying their fair share?  (Applause.)   Do we want to keep subsidizing big oil, or do we want to make sure we’re investing in clean energy?  (Applause.)  Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students, or do we want to keep investing in things that will help us and help them in the long-term — things like education and science, and a strong military and care for our veterans?  (Applause.)  We can’t do both.  We can’t have it both ways.  We’ve got to make a choice about what our priorities are.  (Applause.)

You know, I’ve said this before, but I’m just going to keep on repeating it:  In America, we admire success.  We aspire to it.  I want everybody to be rich.  I want everybody to work and hustle and start businesses and study your tails off to get there.  (Laughter.)  But America is not just about a few people doing well.  America is about giving everybody a chance to do well.  (Applause.)  Everybody — not just a few — everybody.  (Applause.)  That’s what built this country.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.

A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son, he’ll go to college and I’ll be so proud of him.  A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t start my own business, but maybe some day my daughter, she’s going to start her own business, she’s going to work for herself.  (Applause.)  A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, I may be an immigrant, but I believe that this is a country where no matter what you look like and where you come from, no matter what your name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

North Carolina, that’s who we are.  That’s our values. That’s what we’re about.  So, no, “set your sights lowe” — that’s not an education plan.  “You’re on your own” — that’s not an economic plan.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.

Previous generations made the investments necessary for us to succeed, to build a strong middle class, to create the foundation for America’s leadership in science and technology and medicine and manufacturing.  And now it’s our turn.  We’ve got to do the right thing.  I want one of you to discover the cure for cancer, or the formula for fusion, or the next game-changing American industry.  (Applause.)  And that means we’ve got to support those efforts.

So if you agree with me, I need your help.  I need you to tell your member of Congress, we’re not going to set our sights lower.  We’re not going to settle for something less.  Now, all of you are lucky, you already have three congressmen who are on board.  So don’t — you don’t need to call them.  (Laughter and applause.)  They’re already doing the right thing.  But I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online — call your member of Congress.  Email them.  Write on their Facebook page.  Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag.  (Laughter.)  Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate.  (Applause.)  All right?  I’m going to repeat that — the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.  You tweet — everybody say it just so everybody remembers it.

AUDIENCE:  Don’t double my rate.

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t double my rate — it’s pretty straightforward.

Your voice matters.  So stand up.  Be heard.  Be counted.  Tell them now is not the time to double interest rates on your student loans.  Now is the time to double down on smart investments to build a strong and secure middle class.  Now is the time to double down on building an America that lasts.

AUDIENCE:  Absolutely!

THE PRESIDENT:  You — absolutely.  (Applause.)

You and me, all of us here, every single one of us — we’re here only because somebody, somewhere, felt responsibility not just for themselves, but they felt responsibility for something larger.  It started with them feeling responsible for their families.  So your parents sacrificed, your grandparents sacrificed to make sure you could succeed.  But then they thought bigger than that.  They thought about their neighborhood, they thought about their community, they thought about their country.  Now —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  The planet.

THE PRESIDENT:  They thought about the planet.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  It’s our turn to keep that promise alive.

And no matter how tough these times have been, no matter how many obstacles that may stand in our way, I promise you, North Carolina, there are better days ahead.  (Applause.)  We will emerge stronger than we were before.  Because I believe in you.  I believe in your future.  I believe in the investment you’re making right here at North Carolina.  (Applause.)  That tells me that you share my faith in America’s future.  And that’s what drives me every single day — your hopes, your dreams.  And I’m not quitting now because, in America, we don’t quit.  (Applause.)  We get each other’s backs.  We help each other get ahead.

And if we work together, we’ll remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
1:48 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Calls on Congress to Extend Law & Prevent Student Loan Rates from Doubling

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt.

President Obama is calling on Congress to act before student loan  interest rates

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 4/20/12

Weekly Address: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

Source: WH, 4-21-12

President Obama believes that we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important. He is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt. Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

In this week’s address, President Obama called on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1000 to their debt. Having a college education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive.  While the Obama administration has taken historic steps to provide Americans with a fair shot at an affordable college education, Republicans in Congress have instead prioritized huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hi.  This week, I got the chance to sit down with some impressive students at Lorain County Community College in Ohio.  One of them was a woman named Andrea Ashley.  Two years ago, Andrea lost her job as an HR analyst.  Today, she’s getting certified in the fast-growing field of electronic medical records.  Before enrolling at Lorain, Andrea told me she was looking everywhere trying to find a new job.  But without a degree, she said that nobody would hire her.

Andrea’s story isn’t unique.  I’ve met so many Americans who are out there pounding the pavement looking for work only to discover that they need new skills.  And I’ve met a lot of employers who are looking for workers, but can’t find ones with the skills they’re looking for.

So we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important.  But here’s the thing: it’s also never been more expensive.  Students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000.  For the first time, Americans owe more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And for many working families, the idea of owing that much money means that higher education is simply out of reach for their children.

In America, higher education cannot be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford.  That’s why next week I’ll be visiting colleges across the country, talking to students about how we can make higher education more affordable – and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it.  You see, if Congress doesn’t act, on July 1st interest rates on some student loans will double.  Nearly seven and half million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.  That would be a tremendous blow.  And it’s completely preventable.

This issue didn’t come out of nowhere.  For some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable – to prevent these interest rates from doubling, to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, and to double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.

Instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, and voted for huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires – tax cuts that would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

We cannot just cut our way to prosperity.  Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education and earn their degrees is nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.  Congress needs to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.

This is a question of values.  We cannot let America become a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of people struggle to get by.  We’ve got to build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  That’s how the middle class gets stronger.  That’s an economy that’s built to last.  And I’m not only going to take that case to college campuses next week – I’m going to take it to every part of the country this year.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.

White House Recap October 21-28, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Created Executive Action to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs — Ended the War in Iraq & Urged Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

White House Recap October 21-28, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Created Exceutive Action to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs — Ended the War in Iraq & Urged Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

 

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 21-28, 2011

This week, the President kept his promise and announced the end of the war in Iraq, headed west to urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act while announcing new executive actions that will help middle class families.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: “We Can’t Wait”

Source: WH, 10-28-11
Helping Homeowners After Republicans in the Senate blocked the jobs bill yet again, President Obama hit the road with a new message,“We Can’t Wait.” The President decided to take executive action to create jobs and put money back in the pockets of Americans. While in Las Vegas, the President announced steps to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, helping responsible borrowers with little or no equity in their homes take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.

Modifying Student Loans On a snowy day in Colorado, President Obama announced a new effort that will help borrowers better manage their student loan debt. He said he will move forward with A “Pay As You Earn” program that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income.

Hiring Veterans The Obama Administration challenged each of the 8,000 Community Health Centers around the country to hire one veteran, effectively opening up 8,000 jobs to our unemployed veterans. These health centers, which provide primary care services in typically underserved areas, are a major piece of President Obama’s historic health care reform law.

We The People On Wednesday, President Obama’s top education advisors issued the first response to a petition created through the online petition site, We The People. The response addressed the petition “Taking Action to Reduce the Burden of Student Loan Debt”. The Administration recognized the high cost of education and moved forward to reduce monthly loan payments formore than1.6 million people. The online tool that allows Americans to voice their opinions to the government has had around755,000 people use the platform to create or sign more than 12,400 petitions.

Tonight Show The President flew to L.A. to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The two talked about Libya, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and reality television — including a show on C-SPAN called ‘Congress.’

Full Text October 26, 2011: President Barack Obama Unveils in Speech Student Loan Debt-Relief Plan

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama talks students loans at University of Colorado Denver

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after arriving at the University of Colorado Denver campus, in Denver, Colo., Oct. 26, 2011. The President delivered remarks on the steps the Administration is taking to increase college affordability by making it easier to manage student loan debt. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Source: WH, 10-26-11
In this globally competitive, knowledge-based economy, higher education has never been more important. Simply put, America cannot lead in the 21st century without the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world. Nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, which is why some form of higher education is an absolute must.

We also know that college costs have never been higher — or more difficult to manage. The Administration has already provided aid to millions of students with historic investments in programs like Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. But we realize that many borrowers are struggling to both pay off their loans and make ends meet every month. And fear of being saddled with debt in the long run may deter many potential students from enrolling in college. They need help now.

That’s why today, President Obama announced new efforts to make college more affordable by helping millions of borrowers better manage their federal student loan debt. We’re taking executive action with two measures that will bring relief to borrowers by lowering their monthly loan payments — at no cost to taxpayers.

First, for some students we are proposing to cap student loan repayment at 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income, starting next year. For many who worry about managing their debt while working in lower-paying fields — including teachers, nurses, public defenders, and social workers — this could reduce their payments by hundreds each month.

We also want to provide immediate relief to borrowers already repaying their loans. While the pay-as-you-earn proposal would only apply to some current students and recent graduates, millions more borrowers may already be eligible for our current income-based repayment plan, which caps payments at 15 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income. We know there are folks who are struggling in repayment now — and for them the current Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan may be a great option. To learn more about this plan to see if it makes sense for you, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov/ibr….

President Obama has made historic investments in making college more affordable for millions of students. But many people who took out loans to pay for their education are struggling to make monthly payments on those loans, making our tough economic times a little bit more challenging. We can’t wait to help these people keep up with their student loans.

Today, the Obama Administration announced steps we are taking to help borrowers better manage their student loan debt by moving forward with a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income. But President Obama realizes that many students need relief sooner than that. The new “Pay As You Earn” proposal will fast track the initiative to begin next year.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

Auraria Events Center
University of Colorado – Denver Campus
Denver, Colorado

10:25 A.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Well, it is great to be back in Colorado.  (Applause.)  And it is great to be here at CU Denver. (Applause.)

I tend to have some pretty good memories about Denver.  (Applause.)  We had a little gathering here a few years ago, at Mile High.  (Applause.)  So coming here gets me fired up.  Even when it’s snowing outside, I’m fired up.  (Applause.)  I don’t know where else you can go sledding in Halloween.  (Laughter.)  It’s like, what’s up with the snow this soon?  I mean, is this actually late?  This is late for Denver, huh?

I want to start by thanking Mahala for the wonderful introduction and for sharing her story, which I know resonates with a lot of young people here.  I want to thank your outstanding Governor, who’s here — John Hickenlooper is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  The Mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, is in the house.  (Applause.)  The Lieutenant Governor, Joe Garcia, is in the house.  (Applause.)  And one of the finest public servants, somebody you were wise enough to elect and then reelect as United States Senator — Michael Bennet is in the house.

You guys do a good job when it comes to elected officials in Colorado, I just want you to know.  (Applause.)  You have a good eye for talent.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  I do.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately.  And the reason I’ve been hitting the road so much is because the folks I’m talking to in cities and small towns and communities all across America, they’re — let’s face it, they’re making a little more sense than the folks back in Washington.  (Applause.)

Here in Colorado, you’ve got folks who are spending months  — some, years — looking for work.  We’ve got families who are making tough sacrifices just to pay the bills, or the mortgage, or college tuition.  And Americans know we need to do something about it.  (Applause.)  And I know this is especially hard for a lot of young people.

You guys came of age at a time of profound change.  Globalization and technology have all made the world much more competitive.  Although this offers unmatched opportunity — I mean, the way that the world is now linked up and synched up means that you can start a business that’s global from your laptop.  But it also means that we are going to have to adapt to these changes.

And for decades, too many of our institutions — from Washington to Wall Street — failed to adapt, or they adapted in ways that didn’t work for ordinary folk — for middle-class families, for those aspiring to get into the middle class.  We had an economy that was based more on consuming things and piling up debt than making things and creating value.  We had a philosophy that said if we cut taxes for the very wealthiest, and we gut environmental regulations, and we don’t enforce labor regulations, and somehow if we let Wall Street just write the rules, that somehow that was going to lead to prosperity.  And instead what it did was culminate in the worst financial crisis and the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

For the last three years, we’ve worked to stabilize the economy, and we’ve made some progress.  An economy that was shrinking is now growing, but too slowly.  We’ve had private sector job growth, but it’s been offset by layoffs of teachers and police and firefighters, of the public sector.  And we’ve still got a long way to go.

And now, as you young people are getting ready to head out into the world, I know you’re hearing stories from friends and classmates and siblings who are struggling to find work, and you’re wondering what’s in store for your future.  And I know that can be scary.  (Applause.)  So the —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  — Mother Earth — backs of our children and our future.

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Thank you, guys.  We’re looking at it right now, all right?  No decision has been made.  And I know your deep concern about it.  So we will address it.

So here’s what I also know — and I know that’s true for folks who are concerned about the environment, folks who are concerned about foreign policy, but also folks who are concerned about the economy.

When I look out at all of you, I feel confident because I know that as long as there are young people like you who still have hope and are still inspired by the possibilities of America, then there are going to be better days for this country.  (Applause.)  I know that we are going to come through this stronger than before.

And when I wake up every single morning, what I’m thinking about is how do we create an America in which you have opportunity, in which anybody can make it if they try, no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from, no matter what race, what creed, what faith.  (Applause.)  And the very fact — the very fact that you are here, investing in your education, the fact that you’re going to college, the fact that you’re making an investment in your future tells me that you share my faith in America’s future.  (Applause.)  You inspire me — your hopes and your dreams and your opportunities.

And so the truth is the economic problems we face today didn’t happen overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight.  The challenges we face on the environment, or on getting comprehensive immigration reform done — on all these issues we are going to keep on pushing.  And it’s going to take time to restore a sense of security for middle-class Americans.  It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy that works for everybody — not just those at the top.  (Applause.)  But there are steps we can take right now to put Americans back to work and give our economy a boost.  I know it.  You know it.  The American people know it.

You’ve got leaders like Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Diana DeGette that are looking out for you.  But the problem is there are some in Washington — (audience interruption) — there are some in Washington who don’t seem to share this same sense of urgency.  Last week, for the second time this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill from moving forward.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, this is a jobs bill that would have meant nearly 400,000 teachers and firefighters and first responders back on the job.  (Applause.)  It was the kind of proposal that in the past has gotten Democratic and Republican support.

It was paid for by asking those who have done the best in our society, those who have made the most, to just do a little bit more.  And it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.  But they still said no.  And it doesn’t make sense.  How can you say no to creating jobs at a time when so many people are looking for work?  It doesn’t make any sense.

So the truth is the only way we can attack our economic challenges on the scale that’s necessary — the only way we can put hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people, back to work is if Congress is willing to cooperate with the executive branch and we are able to do some bold action — like passing the jobs bill.  That’s what we need.  (Applause.)

And that’s why I am going to keep forcing these senators to vote on common-sense, paid-for jobs proposals.  And I’m going to need you to help send them the message.  You don’t need to tell Michael Bennet — he’s already on the page.  (Laughter.)  But I’m going to need you guys to be out there calling and tweeting and all the stuff you do.  (Laughter.)

But, listen, we’re not going to wait, though.  We’re not waiting for Congress.  Last month, when I addressed a joint session of Congress about our jobs crisis, I said I intend to do everything in my power right now to act on behalf of the American people — with or without Congress.  (Applause.)  We can’t wait for Congress to do its job.  So where they won’t act, I will.  (Applause.)

And that’s why, in recent weeks, we’ve been taking a series of executive actions.  We decided we couldn’t stop — we couldn’t just wait for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind.  We went ahead and decided, let’s give states the flexibility they need to meet higher standards for our kids and improve our schools.  (Applause.)

We said we can’t wait for Congress to help small businesses.  We’re going to go ahead and say to the federal government, pay small businesses faster if they’re contractors so they’ve got more money and they can start hiring more people.  (Applause.)

We said we’re not going to wait for Congress to fix what’s going on in our health care system.  We eliminated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars.  (Applause.)  And yesterday we announced a new initiative to make it easier for veterans to get jobs, putting their skills to work in hospitals and community centers.  (Applause.)

On Monday, we announced a new policy that will help families whose home values have fallen, to refinance their mortgages and to save up to thousands of dollars a year.

All these steps aren’t going to take the place of the needed action that Congress has to get going on — they’re still going to have to pass this jobs bill, they’ve got to create jobs, they’ve got to grow the economy — but these executive actions we’re taking can make a difference.

And I’ve told my administration we’re going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.  What can we do without them?  (Applause.)  Steps that can save you money, and make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal this economy.  So we’re going to be announcing these steps on a regular basis.  And that’s why I came to Denver today — to do something that will be especially important to all of you here at CU Denver and millions of students — and former students — all across America.  (Applause.)

Now, I mentioned that we live in a global economy, where businesses can set up shop anywhere where there’s an Internet connection.  So we live in a time when, over the next decade, 60 percent of new jobs will require more than a high school diploma. And other countries are hustling to out-educate us today, so they can out-compete us tomorrow.  They want the jobs of the future.  I want you to have those jobs.  (Applause.)  I want America to have those jobs.  (Applause.)  I want America to have the most highly skilled workers doing the most advanced work.  I want us to win the future.  (Applause.)

So that means we should be doing everything we can to put a college education within reach for every American.  (Applause.)  That has never been more important.  It’s never been more important, but, let’s face it, it’s also never been more expensive.  There was a new report today, tuition gone up again, on average — much faster than inflation; certainly much faster than wages and incomes.

Over the past three decades, the cost of college has nearly tripled.  And that is forcing you, forcing students, to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  Last year, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of $24,000.  Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt, for the first time ever.

Now, living with that kind of debt means making some pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It might mean putting off buying a house.  It might mean you can’t start a business idea that you’ve got.  It may mean that you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or certainly it means you’re putting off saving for retirement because you’re still paying off your student loans.

And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards student loans instead of being spent on other things, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s painful for the economy and it’s harmful to our recovery because that money is not going to help businesses grow.

And let me say this — this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I’ve been in your shoes.  We did not come from a wealthy family.  (Applause.)  I was raised mostly by a single mom and my grandparents.  And Michelle, she had sort of a “Leave it to Beaver” perfect family, but — (laughter) — she did.  They’re wonderful.  (Laughter.)  But her dad was a blue-collar worker, and her mom stayed at home.  But then when she did go to work, she worked as a secretary.  So our folks didn’t have a lot of money.  We didn’t even own our own home; we rented most of the time that we were growing up.

So by the time we both graduated from law school, we had, between us, about $120,000 worth of debt.  We combined and got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  So we combined our liabilities, not our assets.  (Laughter.)  So we were paying more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month.

Look, obviously we were lucky to have gotten a great education and we were able to land good jobs with a steady income.  But it still took us almost 10 years to finally pay off all our student debt.  And that wasn’t easy, especially once we had Malia and Sasha, because now we’re supposed to be saving for their college, but we’re still paying for ours.  (Laughter.)

So the idea is, how do we make college more affordable, and how do we make sure you are burdened with less debt?  Now, college — keep in mind, college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future.  It’s one of the bets investments America can make in our future.  (Applause.)  So we want you in school.  We want you in school.  But we shouldn’t saddle you with debt when you’re starting off.

So that’s why, since taking office, we’ve made it a priority to make college more affordable, reduce your student loan debt.  Last year we fought to eliminate these taxpayer subsidies that were going to big banks.  They were serving as middlemen in the student loan program — some of you may have heard about this.  So even though the loans were guaranteed by the federal government, we were still paying banks billions of dollars to be pass-throughs for the student loan program.

And we said, well, that’s not a good idea.  (Laughter.)  That’s not a good — now, of course, there were some in Washington who opposed me on this — that’s surprising.  (Laughter.)  I know — shocking.  (Laughter.)  So you had some Republicans in Congress who fought us tooth and nail to protect the status quo and to keep these tax dollars flowing to the big banks instead of going to middle-class families.  One of them said changing it would be “an outrage.”  The real outrage was letting banks keep these subsidies while students were working three jobs just to try to get by.  That was the outrage.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we ended the practice once and for all, to put a college education within reach of more Americans.

Then in last year’s State of the Union address, I asked Congress to pass a law that tells 1 million students they won’t have to pay more than 10 percent of their income toward student loans.  And we won that fight, too — (applause) — and that law will take effect by the time — that law is scheduled to take effect by the time freshmen graduate.

But we decided, let’s see if we can do a little bit more.  So today, I’m here to announce that we’re going to speed things up.  (Applause.)  We’re going to make these changes work for students who are in college right now.  (Applause.)  We’re going to put them into effect not three years from now, not two years from now — we’re going to put them into effect next year,  (Applause.)  Because our economy needs it right now and your future could use a boost right now.  (Applause.)

So here is what this is going to mean.  Because of this change, about 1.6 million Americans could see their payments go down by hundreds of dollars a month — and that includes some of the students who are here today.  (Applause.)  What we’re also going to do is we’re going to take steps to consolidate student loans so that instead of paying multiple payments to multiple lenders every month — and let me tell you, I remember this.  I remember writing like five different checks to five different loan agencies — and if you lost one that month, you couldn’t get all the bills together, you missed a payment, and then suddenly you were paying a penalty.  We’re going to make it easier for you to have one payment a month at a better interest rate.  (Applause.)  And this won’t cost — it won’t cost taxpayers a dime, but it will save you money and it will save you time.  (Applause.)

And we want to start giving students a simple fact sheet.  We’re going to call it “Know Before You Owe” — (applause) — “Know Before You Owe” — so you have all the information you need to make your own decisions about how to pay for college.  And I promise you, I wish Michelle and I had had that when we were in your shoes.

So these changes will make a difference for millions of Americans.  It will save you money.  It will help more young people figure out how to afford college.  It can put more money in your pocket once you graduate.  And because you’ll have some certainty, knowing that it’s only a certain percentage of your income that is going to pay off your student loans, that means you will be more confident and comfortable to buy a house or save for retirement.  And that will give our economy a boost at a time when it desperately needs it.  (Applause.)  So this is not just important to our country right now, it’s important to our country’s future.

When Michelle and I tuck our girls in at night, we think about how we are only where we are because somewhere down the line, somebody decided we’re going to give everybody a chance.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not born wealthy; it doesn’t matter if your dad is disabled or doesn’t own his own home; it doesn’t matter if you’re a single mom who had to take food stamps — you’re still going to get a shot.  You’re still going to get an education.  (Applause.)  This country gave us a chance.  And because our parents and their generation worked and sacrificed, they passed on opportunity to us.  And they didn’t do it alone.  It was something that we as a country did together.

And now it’s our turn — because the dream of opportunity is what I want for you, and I want for my daughters, and I want them for your children.  I want them for all young people, because no matter how tough times are, no matter how many obstacles stand in our way, we are going to make the dream that all Americans share real once again.  And that starts right now.  It starts with you. (Applause.)  It starts with you.

I am going to keep doing everything in my power to make a difference for the American people.  But, Denver, I need your help.  (Applause.)  Some of these folks in Washington still aren’t getting the message.  I need your voices heard.  I especially need your young — young people, I need you guys involved.  I need you active.  I need you communicating to Congress.  I need you to get the word out.  Like I said, tweet them.  Tweet them — they’re all tweeting all over the place.  (Laughter.)  You tweet them back.  Whatever works for you.

Tell them, do your job.  Tell them, the President has ideas that in the past have been supported by Democrats and Republicans — there’s no reason not to support them just to play politics.  (Applause.)  It’s time to put country ahead of party.  It’s time to put the next generation ahead of the next election.  (Applause.)  It’s time for all of us in Washington to do our job. It’s time for them to do their job.  (Applause.)  Too many people out there are hurting.  Too many people are out there hurting for us to sit around and doing nothing.

And we are not a people who just sit around and wait for things to happen.  We’re Americans; we make things happen.  We fix problems.  (Applause.)  We meet our challenges.  We don’t hold back, and we don’t quit.  (Applause.)  And that’s the spirit we need right now.

So, Denver, let’s go out and meet the moment.  Let’s do the right thing, and let’s go, once again, show the world just why it is the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
10:51 A.M. MDT

FACT SHEET: “Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt”

Source: WH, 10-25-11

The Administration has made historic investments in Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit to help make college more affordable for millions of current and future students. While college remains an excellent investment for most students, debt may discourage some potential students from enrolling, keeping them from getting the skills they need to compete in the global economy. Some borrowers may struggle to manage their bills and support their families.  The need for enough income to make large monthly payments may discourage some graduates from starting a new job-creating business or entering teaching or another lower-paying public service career.

Today, the President announced a series of additional steps that the Administration will take to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans:

Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt by Capping Monthly Payments to What They Can Afford 

  • Allow borrowers to cap their student loan payments at 10% of discretionary income.  In the 2010 State of the Union, the President proposed – and Congress quickly enacted – an improved income-based repayment (IBR) plan, which allows student loan borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 15% of their discretionary income. Beginning July 1, 2014, the IBR plan is scheduled to reduce that limit from 15% to 10% of discretionary income.
  • Today, the President announced that his Administration is putting forth a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal to make sure these same important benefits are made available to some borrowers as soon as 2012. The Administration estimates that this cap will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million student borrowers.

For example:

  • A nurse who is earning $45,000 and has $60,000 in federal student loans. Under the standard repayment plan, this borrower’s monthly repayment amount is $690. The currently available IBR plan would reduce this borrower’s payment by $332 to $358.  President Obama’s improved ‘Pay As You Earn’ plan will reduce her payment by an additional $119 to a more manageable $239 — a total reduction of $451 a month.
  • A teacher who is earning $30,000 a year and has $25,000 in Federal student loans.  Under the standard repayment plan, this borrower’s monthly repayment amount is $287 .  The currently available IBR plan would reduce this borrower’s payment by $116, to $171.  Under the improved ‘P ay As You Earn’ plan, his monthly payment amount would be even more manageable at only $114.   And, if this borrower remained a teacher or was employed in another public service occupation, he would be eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after 10 years of payments .
  •  Continues to provide help for those already in the workforce. Recent graduates and others in the workforce who are still struggling to pay off their student loans can immediately take advantage of the current income-based repayment plan that caps payments at 15% of the borrower’s discretionary income to help them manage their debt. Currently, more than 36 million Americans have federal student loan debt, but fewer than 450,000 Americans participate in income-based repayment. Millions more may be eligible to reduce their monthly payments to an amount affordable based on income and family size. The Administration is taking steps to make it easier to participate in IBR and continues to reach out to borrowers to let them know about the program .

Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/ibr.

The CFPB also released the Student Debt Repayment Assistant, an online tool that provides borrowers, many of whom may be struggling with repayment, with information on income-based repayment, deferments, alternative payment programs, and much more.  The Student Debt Repayment Assistant is available at ConsumerFinance.gov/students/repay

Improve Ease of Making Payments and Reduce Default Risk by Consolidating Loans

  • Provide a discount on consolidation loans.  While all new federal student loans are now Direct Loans thanks to the historic reforms in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, there are still $400 billion outstanding in old Federal Family Education Loans.  These loans offer fewer repayment options and are unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers.  In addition, about 6 million borrowers have at least one Direct Loan and at least one FFEL loan, which requires them to submit two separate monthly payments, a complexity that puts them at greater risk of default.

To ensure borrowers are not adversely impacted by this transition and to facilitate loan repayment while reducing taxpayer costs, the Department of Education is encouraging borrowers with split loans to consolidate their guaranteed FFEL loans into the Direct Loan program. Borrowers do not need to take any action at this time.  Beginning in January 2012, the Department will reach out to qualified borrowers early next year to alert them of the opportunity.

This special consolidation initiative would keep the terms and conditions of the loans the same, and most importantly, beginning in January 2012, allow borrowers to make only one monthly payment, as opposed to two or more payments, greatly simplifying the repayment process. Borrowers who take advantage of this special, limited-time consolidation option would also receive up to a 0.5 percent reduction to their interest rate on some of their loans, which means lower monthly payments and saving hundreds in interest.  Borrowers would receive a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction on their consolidated FFEL loans and an additional 0.25 percent interest rate reduction on the entire consolidated FFEL and DL balance.

For example:

  • A borrower about to enter repayment with two $4,500 FFEL Stafford loans (at 6.0%) and a $5,500 Direct Stafford loan (at 4.5%). Under Standard Repayment, the borrower can expect to pay a total of $4,330 in interest until the loans are paid in full. If this borrower consolidates their FFEL loans under this initiative they would save $376 in interest payments, and make only one payment per month, instead of two.
  • A borrower in repayment with a $32,000 FFEL Consolidation loan (at 6.25%) and a $5,500 Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan (at 6.8%). Under Standard Repayment, the borrower can expect to pay a total of $13,211 in interest until the loans are paid in full. If this borrower consolidates the FFEL loan under this initiative they would save $964 in interest payments, and make only one payment per month instead of two.

Provide Consumers with Better Information to Make College Selection Decisions

“Know Before You Owe” Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education have teamed up to launch a new “Know Before You Owe” project aimed at creating a model financial aid disclosure form, which colleges and universities could use to help students better understand the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions. This “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” makes the costs and risks of student loans clear upfront – before students have enrolled – outlining their total estimated student loan debt, monthly loan payments after graduation and additional costs not covered by federal aid.  Ultimately, this provides students and their families with useful information that can help them make a more informed decision about where to attend college and help them better understand the debt burden they may be left with.

The CFPB is soliciting feedback on how to further improve the form, especially looking for input from college students and their families. They can go to the CFPB’s website ( http://consumerfinance.gov/students/knowbeforeyouowe ) where an online ranking tool will provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in on the financial aid shopping sheet.

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