(CNN) - President Barack Obama used his weekly address Saturday to begin pressuring Congress to extend a provision that would keep interest rates on federally subsidized student loans at a low 3.4%.
The address kicks off an effort by the White House to convince Congress to extend the measure, which was passed with bipartisan support five years ago.
Previously, students paid 6.8% on federally subsidized loans. In 2007, a Democrat-controlled House lowered the rate to 3.4%, but that decrease is due to expire July 1, meaning rates would return to 6.8% without an extension.
Obama will travel next week to North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa to make speeches urging Congress to pass the extension. All three states are considered battlegrounds in the upcoming general election.
Obama will also appear on Jimmy Fallon's late-night talk show Tuesday to pitch the extension.
In his address Saturday, Obama said higher education "cannot be a luxury."
"It's an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford," Obama said. "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."
Obama took a shot at congressional Republicans, who he said were stalling on passing legislation that would have real impact in students' lives. Nearly 8 million students have federally subsidized loans.
Republicans question the cost of extending the low student-loan interest rate, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates to total $6 billion per year.
"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," Obama said.
Meanwhile, Republicans chose to focus on energy in their weekly address, delivered by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt.
"Fuel costs are on track to hit an average of $4 a gallon by summertime - that's more than double what they cost when President Obama took office, and it marks a record high for the last two months," Blunt said in the address.
He went to criticize the president for what he said were misguided attempts to foster economic growth.
"Unfortunately, instead of working together to pass bipartisan solutions that would relieve pain at the pump and pressure on jobs, this administration is focused on the wrong things," Blunt said, naming last week's push for the so-called "Buffett Rule" as an example.
That proposal would enact a minimum 30% tax on Americans making north of $1 million per year. Senate Republicans, including Blunt, blocked the measure earlier this week.
Blunt labeled the rule "a gimmick that would do nothing to jump-start jobs or lower fuel prices for average American."
Instead, Blunt said fostering development of American energy should be a primary facet of the White House's plan for economic development. He said he was disappointed by members of the opposite party for ignoring plans to develop American energy.
"Unfortunately, for years this administration and Democrats in the Senate continue to dismiss bipartisan solutions that would help put people back to work and encourage more economic energy development," Blunt said.
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It doesn't matter what the teapublikans talk about. As soon as the President agrees they are against it.
THROW THE BUMS OUT IN NOVEMBER 2012!
To the republicans, any tax payer money that is not redistributed as tax breaks for big oil, Wall Street, big banks, and billionaires is called 'socialism, Marxism, communism, and Stalinism.'
The President should be focusing on coming up with a PLAN to address America's economic crisis, rather than spending the entire year pandering to his voting bases. He has NOTHING on the table but the Buffet Rule, which raises 5 billion a year. It would take 200 years at that rate to pay off ONE year of Obama's historic deficits. He has completely given up the leadership of our country, Democrats in Congress sit idle, and they just wait for the election. The GOP takes the political risks of actually proposing serious plans to save our economy while Obama laughs and mocks and does nothing
Republicans have always been against education, as they need to keep their base uninformed.
Gasoline was $4.15 in Florida in the summer of 2008, after being over $3.25 for most of 2007. Blunt has his Fox foreign owned media talking points down well, but they still lack in truth.
CNN moderator – you have been blatantly censoring my posts – which are inocuous and have no profanity or references to other links. So I assume you do that because you don't like my point of view. I notice CNN is putting more and more of the critical stories on SoundOff which you keep under stricter censorship than the standard blog. My comment is still awaiting moderation. I am interested to see if you delete it like you do so many of my posts. I'm going to screen capture this right now until the outcome is clear. Why don't you let people post their opinions?
The freakin fed can slash rates for banks to zer0 but they raise rates on individuals working for a college degree. Frankly, I am repulsed by all the professionals who seem to get degrees based on wealth instead of knowledge. At least two years of college or trade school should be included in a public education! America is failing our future generations.
GOP talks about Energy–Nonsense, Hogwash. Where are these idiots when cleaveland wanted train transport? Don"t believe it. Yes, Obama12.
So Obama basically said that he's all about giving a break on loans to students to give them a chance at a better future while the Republicans basically stated that they favor tax breaks for the rich and increased profits for oil companies.
Please remember people, this is NOT a hand out it is a loan. I have two in college. Yes, I had savings to help out, they both have jobs and MANY SCHOLARSHIPS including the Deans for my son and the Presidents for my daughter. College COSTS! When I went back in the early 70's, the cost was then the same as a Community College now. Even a state college is expensive. When they took out small loans to aid them in cost it was a huge help. Why should they have to pay a higher interest AFTER the FACT?
Notice how this incompetent, inept, corrupt, union toady president uses his weekly radio addresses to promote hatred of Republicans, class warfare and devisiveness of this country, unlike other presidents who have used it to promote, educate and lead the public. This man is truly a product of the SEIU who gave him his first and only real job hanging posters on telephone poles.
This is a perfect contrast between the two parties. Obama is cultivating our country's future while the repugs cling to the past. Obama recognizes the worth of education while repugs fight to have myths taught in science class. Obama wants to move us to clean, renewable energy, which, btw, creates jobs, while the repugs push drilling for filthy fossil fuels that are killing the planet, and us! the past or the future, that's the choice, America. choose wisely or we may not have a future.
Drilling for more oil to sell on the open market isn't going to make gas cheaper. The only way we are going to get cheap gas again is to have another economic collapse.
Also, Blunt points to the fact that gas prices are double now from what they were when President Obama took office. Once again Republicans forget to say why they were so low when Obama took office. They do this on purpose because they know there are millions of minions who hate Obama and will blame him for everything.
Republicans have only been obstructive and not cooperative. Anytime Obama supports one of their ideas they turn against it.
They made it clear that they would not support this President from day one and by doing so they have to keep moving further and further to the right as Obama moves more to the center.
Whether it is intentional or not you have to give Obama credit. He knows that Republicans won't support him so he embraces mainstream Republican ideas like the individual mandate, cap and trade, pay as you go and others. Republicans, in their hatred of the President cannot be seen agreeing with Obama so they abandon their beliefs and take a further right stance. In doing so, they turn off more and more moderate voters and box themselves into a corner.
ho hum and under bush fuel prices where? get over it the president doesn't control the price of oil and most people realize this. Now how about education or do the repos like for everyone to stay dumb so they can fleece them some more. Obama 2012
Hey Blunt, are you saying the Republican agenda of less regulations and controls on corporations, like the oil companies, is not working. So what now? Now you want the government to step in a regulate the oil companies and the price of gas. Make up your mind, you sound like a hypocrite!
Republicans screw the students but give the oil companies a 40 billion dallar free ride , thanks teaparty morons.
Education must become more affordable in order for the US to compete globally. This is a critical issue and the anti-science party just does not get it.
As the GOP talks energy on the second year after the Gulf Oil Spill, will they try to convince us that we need less regulation in oil drilling?
And when will the GOP tell us of their plans for drilling off the west coast of Florida: is it 'Drill Baby, Drill', or is that precious zone off limits (as Floridians want) while oil companies spoil the beaches and wetlands elsewhere?
Mitt is mith, bain capital.
Good of the Republicans to remind us of the destruction drilling has done to the environment on Earth Day.
Oh, I forgot, they apologized to BP for the President's demand that they put $20M up front to ensure
that compensation and clean up money would be immediately available.
I don't like flip flopping
@Biotechdev: "He has NOTHING on the table but the Buffet Rule, which raises 5 billion a year. It would take 200 years at that rate to pay off ONE year of Obama's historic deficits."
Funny how Repubs use the argument that funding Planned Parenthood (which provides low-cost healthcare for women, resulting in lower medical costs down the road and a healthier workforce/stay-at-home momforce) for $300 million is "too much" to spend when we have deficits, but the Buffet Rule, which would add $49 BILLION to our nation's coffers is "a drop in the bucket" and not worth considering.
Regarding your assertion that President Obama is doing nothing and the Repubs are putting "serious" proposals on the table: HA!
Because of President Obama's policies, our country didn't go into a Great Depression; the economy is slowly turning around, in spite of the GOP's continued efforts to make our people suffer; GM is alive and the top car company in the world; and Osama bin Laden is swimming with the fishes.
The Repubs proposals would NOT result in deficit reduction, just a destruction of our nation's social safety net and the privatization of services better provided by the government.
For a "dev," you really don't know how to think logically. You must be one of those devs who writes spaghetti code ...
STIMULATE THE ECONOMY! Forgive all student debt; pay this debt through stoppage of foreign aid to israel and other special free loader taking from the hard-working class. What happened to Free or Low Cost GOVERNMENT sponsored colleges. Have Yale and Harvard pay money to other colleges – they became wealthy with taxpayer support – do the math. Working people are not people...they are SLAVES. Obama is full of it, his campaign stole Caesar Chaves chants the last time around and all the sheep fell for the message. Obama is a white guy born for a black guy in all matrilineal societies and you should not vote for him as a forgiveness of past wrongs. He is a lawyer only interested in “his self”. Obama has done nothing but talk in circles, a puppet for 5-pointed star mafia religion, and if examined further, you can find which special interest really benefitted from his position – not the working people! Romney is no better! They will have same government, because a few men determine our realities. IMF got another huge chunk of working people’s money all over earth this past week so why listen to the rhetoric on student loans. Why our system is so bad that I BET you the next few Supreme Court ruling will be 5-4 – you call that justice? Lawyers and legislators are the same, they are sucking us dry with taxes and the tea party is no longer attractive because of the fanatics! Do we need a real tea party?