March 27th, 2010
11:21 AM ET
12 years ago

Obama: 'This was a momentous week for America'

Washington (CNN) - In his weekly Internet and radio address, President Obama discusses the changes to the federal student loan system that were enacted as part of Democrats' health care legislation.

"This reform of the federal student loan programs will save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade," Obama says. "And with this legislation, we’re putting that money to use achieving a goal I set for America: by the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

Republicans responded quickly to Obama's weekly address. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, the chairman of Senate Republican Conference, issued the following statement Saturday:

“Nineteen million college students aren’t going to be happy when they find out that the federal government will overcharge them an average of $1,700 to help pay for the new health care law and other government programs. In this latest Washington takeover, the government will borrow money at 2.8 percent and loan it to students at 6.8 percent and spend the difference on more government. Any savings ought to go to students, not the government.

“This takeover will deprive 19 million students of choices, add half a trillion dollars to the federal debt, and throw out of work 31,000 Americans who today help students apply for loans. The motto of the Obama Administration should be: ‘If you can find it in the Yellow Pages, the government ought to be doing it.'"

(Read Obama's full remarks after the jump)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
March 27, 2009

This was a momentous week for America. It was a week in which together, we took bold new steps toward restoring economic security for our middle class and rebuilding a stronger foundation for our future. It was a week in which some of the change that generations have hoped for and worked for finally became reality in America.

It began with the passage of comprehensive health insurance reform that will begin to end the worst practices of the insurance industry, rein in our exploding deficits, and, over time, finally offer millions of families and small businesses quality, affordable care – and the security and peace of mind that comes with it.

And it ended with Congress casting a final vote on another piece of legislation that accomplished what we’ve been talking about for decades – legislation that will reform our student loan system and help us educate all Americans to compete and win in the 21st century.

Year after year, we’ve seen billions of taxpayer dollars handed out as subsidies to the bankers and middlemen who handle federal student loans, when that money should have gone to advancing the dreams of our students and working families. And yet attempts to fix this problem and reform this program were thwarted by special interests that fought tooth and nail to preserve their exclusive giveaway.

But this time, we said, would be different. We said we’d stand up to the special interests, and stand up for the interests of students and families. That’s what happened this week. And I commend all the Senators and Representatives who did the right thing.

This reform of the federal student loan programs will save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade. And with this legislation, we’re putting that money to use achieving a goal I set for America: by the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

To make college more affordable for millions of middle-class Americans for whom the cost of higher education has become an unbearable burden, we’re expanding federal Pell Grants for students: increasing them to keep pace with inflation in the coming years and putting the program on a stronger financial footing. In total, we’re doubling funding for the federal Pell Grant program to help the students who depend on it.

To make sure our students don’t go broke just because they chose to go to college, we’re making it easier for graduates to afford their student loan payments. Today, about 2 in 3 graduates take out loans to pay for college. The average student ends up with more than $23,000 in debt. So when this change takes effect in 2014, we’ll cap a graduate’s annual student loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her income.

To help an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees and certificates over the next decade, we’re revitalizing programming at our community colleges – the career pathways for millions of dislocated workers and working families across this country. These schools are centers of learning; where students young and old can get the skills and technical training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow. They’re centers of opportunity; where we can forge partnerships between students and businesses so that every community can gain the workforce it needs. And they are vital to our economic future.

And to ensure that all our students have every chance to live up to their full potential, this legislation also increases support for our Minority Serving Institutions, including our Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to keep them as strong as ever in this new century.

Education. Health care. Two of the most important pillars of a strong America grew stronger this week. These achievements don’t represent the end of our challenges; nor do they signify the end of the work that faces our country. But what they do represent is real and major reform. What they show is that we’re a nation still capable of doing big things. What they prove is what’s possible when we can come together to overcome the politics of the moment; push back on the special interests; and look beyond the next election to do what’s right for the next generation.

That’s the spirit in which we continue the work of tackling our greatest common tasks – an economy rebuilt; job creation revitalized; an American Dream renewed – for all our people.

Thank you.

Filed under: Education • Health care • Lamar Alexander • President Obama
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Terry from West Texas

    How can Conservatives continue to make up these lies out of whole cloth, with not a shred of truth in them, and say them out loud in public? Dealing with Conservatives is like dealing with ... my vocabulary fails me. Whenever I think of a group to compare Conservatives to, it seems unfair to that group.

    Perhaps its like dealing with an alcoholic.

    "This letter says you were in an auto accident last week."

    "No, I wasn't in an accident. That's a lie."

    "But here's a picture of the accident. I see your car with the fender bashed in."

    "Well, that wasn't my fault. The other guy ran into me. He ran a red light."

    "But I can see that you rear ended him. The back of his car is all bashed in and the front of your car is bashed in."

    "Well, I was stopped at a red light and he threw it into reverse and smashed into my car backwards."

    "And it says here you were drinking."

    "No I wasn't. That other guy was drinking and he splashed my shirt with whiskey and threw the bottle in my car."

    And on and on.

    March 27, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Abe

    We claim we are the number one economic power in the world. How about we become the number one healthiest country in the world and the best educated country in the world as well. This why the president and the people who voted for this legislation showed they are true Americans and deserve appreciation not threats. God Bless our country.

    March 27, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Barbara

    score to date: 34,000,000 to zero. Go President Obama

    March 27, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Gerry NH

    This is a momentious for America. The begining of decades of going down because the people in charge did not care what the majority of the people wanted. This is a shame of our politicians.

    March 27, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    Yes it was Mr. President. Thank you and all the members of Congress who listened to what most Americans wanted. The right to have health care for all.
    Now we have to work on getting all these officials re elected in their districts. We need to erase the crosshairs of that insignificant shrill by voting not reloading.

    March 27, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Ron , West Coast

    Bravo , Mr. President !!!

    March 27, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. joe

    you can't deny how impressive obama is. he is class all the way. his quiet leadership and steady hand has helped our country turn the corner toward a brighter future. good job mr. president. america is rooting for you!

    March 27, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. We the People....

    This sure smacks in the face of students and their famlies who want to be able to make choices in where they get their loans. There is only one place to get student loans now.... what happened to free market?!


    March 27, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Jerry - Florida

    Mr. President, you can fool the American people some of the time. But, definitely not ALL the time.

    Also, it's about time you stopped your "campaigning/concert tour", and dedicate yourself to resolving the issues that are really affecting America. America is really getting tired of all your family and your personal travels on America's dime.

    Finally, if you and your cronies want to stay in office and further debilitate America's standing in the world, you need to start respecting the wishes of the majority of the USA voters.As you very well know, very few Americans approve of the way your administration has been treating one of staunchest allies, Israel.

    March 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. AndyBlue

    Congratulations Mr President on a job well done.

    March 27, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. annie against biased news

    Government rationed health care bill is just a piece of paper legalizing slavery.

    March 27, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Victoria

    Thank you, Mr. President, for all your hard work, and also for the great courage you have shown. You and others, who feel the truth does matter, and that words count.

    I continue to hope ... moving in a direction that all American's can be proud of.

    Best of wishes to you, yours, and theirs.

    March 27, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. M.

    Unfortunately Obama isn't mentioning how many people will LOSE their jobs as a result of this legislation. (My sister-in-law is one of them.) And the Fed doesn't have to report it's numbers to anyone, lucky them! Yet another measure by the federal government that takes free market competition and it's benefits away from private citizens. But then again, maybe my SIL can get a "job" patching potholes on the highway, right?

    This administration, just like the last one, is a pathetic joke. EPIC FAIL.

    March 27, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. haren

    Tea party guys hate socialist.
    Did they know any socialist country?
    I urge you to visit Denmark where health care is free,education is free and on top of that they get 6 week free vacation.
    And the result of this is they are healthier than us. Go figure it out.
    Rich corporation are doing nothing but stealing money and filling their pockets and taking advantage of this economy by sucking workers who has job.

    March 27, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. Abdirahman

    See the benifet Gops .no special group but Americans interest.Suport Always Democrates to rebuild once again your country.For the Gops vote them out Americans in the midterm Election.Let them dwindel further to 100 seats in houseand 30in senate.

    March 27, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. Albo58

    This President has the word "momentous" confused with the words "unmitigated disaster"! He and his Congressional drones passed the largest ripoff of the American taxpayers in our history!

    March 27, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    Hmm... Which do I prefer? Government takeover or Corporations takeover?
    We have had corporations takeover for too long. Let's try a little government takeover with insurance mandate. I agree this bill isn't perfect. I think GOP really wants Universal Health Care and so do I with all my heart.

    March 27, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Keep them busy Mr. President, they have nothing more to do with their idol time but complain. As they say an idol child is an idol mind and in this case the Republicans had 8 years of idol minds.

    March 27, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. jbakaregit

    Thank you yet again Mr. President. I'm in a masters program and these student lenders are a hastle. Even though it probably won't affect me, I'm glad others who are coming up will get to have lower-interest loans and more grant money.

    HCR + student loan reform = double win for America. The GOP & their screwed-up allies tried to stop us from reforming these issues and they lost. They can go to heck with all their talk about "government takeover/government is the problem" and other nonsense. We the people ARE the government, a government of, by, and for the people.

    March 27, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. Doug

    The will of the people denied by a national Socialist commited to taking away our freedoms and having complete control of our lives, yeah that's what America is all about.

    March 27, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. Adalbert

    Yes it was Mr. President. Thank you.

    March 27, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. It's time for another change!

    Momentous? Sure, I'll go along with that. Probably a more descriptive word would be Disastrous. It appears little more than a step towards a more socialistic society. Don't take my word for it, even democratic lawmakers have already admitted to the same.

    March 27, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. Barbara

    score 34 million and counting. Go President Obama

    March 27, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Marquis

    Are the Republicans illiterates? Why do they spread falsehood always by twisting facts?

    March 27, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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