Romney, Obama see eye-to-eye on student loans
April 23rd, 2012
01:37 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney, Obama see eye-to-eye on student loans

Washington (CNN) - Call it the battle for the youth vote.

As President Barack Obama heads to three battleground states this week to push for an extension of a law that cuts interest rates on a popular federal student loan program for low and middle income undergraduates, Mitt Romney agreed with him on the issue.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"With the number of college graduates who can't find work, or who can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans," said the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee Monday, while talking with reporters prior to a campaign event in Astor, Pennsylvania.

The president will visit the University of North Carolina, the University of Colorado and the University of Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday. The three universities are in states Obama narrowly won in the 2008 election and are considered battleground states again in 2012, meaning they are expected to be heavily contested by both parties in the general election.

The president blames Republicans for serving as a roadblock to make college more affordable for middle class families.

"This is a question of values," Obama said Saturday, in his weekly internet and radio address. "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."

The president wants to extend a provision that keeps interest rates on federally subsidized student loans at 3.4%. The rate passed with bipartisan support five years ago, but is set to expire on July 1. Without the extension, the rate would return to 6.8%.

Obama will also appear on Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show Tuesday to pitch the extension. And his re-election campaign is also pushing for the extension with national and state events.

In a midday conference call organized by the Obama campaign, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa said, "This is personal for the president, first lady, and me. We all attended college on loans and worked to pay them off."

The senator noted 70% of all Iowa students graduate with a debt load averaging $30,000.

Harkin, the Senate Education Committee Chairman, was joined on the call with Eileen O'Leary, former president of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and OFA Policy Director James Kvaal.

The push also includes New Hampshire, another battleground state.

In advance of what's being billed by Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign as a major speech Tuesday night in New Hampshire, Granite State Democrats are holding an event where they will slam the all-but-certain GOP nominee for supporting the House Republican budget, which Democrats say would double student loan interest rates.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House, is hoping to make a dent in Obama's support from younger voters.

"Ultimately, what young Americans want and need is a new president who will champion lasting and permanent policy changes that both address the rising cost of a college education and get our economy really growing again," said Romney in a statement Monday.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won two-thirds of the 18 to 29 year-old vote in the 2008 presidential election, according to national exit polls. That was up 12-points from the 54% of the 18 to 29 year-old vote that Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, carried four years earlier.

Making sure that younger voters show up at the polls and cast ballots for the Democratic ticket could be crucial to Obama's chances of winning re-election in November. A CNN/ORC International poll released last week indicated Obama leading Romney by a two-to-one margin among voters between the ages of 18 and 34.

- CNN White House Producer Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

Also see:

Giuliani endorses Romney, downplays being running mate

Huntsman compares GOP to Communist Party of China

RNC formally backs Walker in recall

Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "student loans that are larger than their pay would suggest they should carry,"

    Duh. That's the way the plutocrats want it. "Everyone can go to school and it wil create a level playing field where everyone has the opoprtunity to compete" very quickly got turned into "let's make the tuition and loans so huge that the rich still have a massive advantage."

    April 23, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. Larry L

    President Obama will get the vote from the young people smart enough to see through the Fox News lies. Intelligent and compassionate folks will see the need to maintain a middle class and not continue to run the "trickle-down economics experiment" time and time again – to only experience failure. Yoiung people also know they will bear the brunt of the chicken-hawks promoting war across the world. The fat-cats running the defense contracting firms won't be called to die but will leave that little "unpleasent" task for the children of the poor and working class.

    April 23, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Anderson

    I have one daughter in college now and a son to start this fall. Please do not let the GOP raise their interest rate, I though that's want they hate doing.

    April 23, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Angus

    Ahhhh yes... It preying on the naive worked in 2008.

    April 23, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. Is Mitt a Git?

    President Obama will have no problem securing the youth vote–they already know that he's on their side. No matter what Mitt says, they know he's just pandering. College kids really do know better.

    April 23, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Investment Advisor

    Sad...I bet a majority of these 18- 32 year olds would not be able to tell you what the three branches of our government are but they sure know how to tweet.

    April 23, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. king

    Obama need to take his optimism tour of modernizing America on he backs of rich folks investment. Let the people see cranes and construction workers in every state, city and towns, this will make them believe in America again and state spending. Hell with the repubs and their austerity movements and government, intervention, private companies will not use shareholder money and build Bruce's and roads.

    April 23, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Eri

    Obama has got the "youth vote" locked. Romney shouldn't waste his time pandering to them.

    April 23, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    I am all for Obama.

    April 23, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |

    Willard, your policy suggestions would make it harder on the middle class and students. You still want to give tax breaks away to your 1% compadres. The youth vote, latino vote & womens vote belongs to the President. That's primarily the reason there are all of these voter surpression laws coming out.

    April 23, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. CJ in LA

    This could be very interesting. Yes I do believe the president will have the youth vote in November. He has my vote.

    April 23, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. blogs-o-matic

    If you offer someone anything for their vote (even a campaign promise), isn't that a bribe?

    April 23, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Aw Humm,
    I hear Tutition Rates are going up. Employment is Stagnent. I hear many with a College Degree are Flipping Hamburgers at Mc Donalds, waiting on Tables and no Job Prospects. Golly, how did that happen? Maybe all those Huge Government Programs aren't working. Tax the rich, lose a job. Seems like a fair exchange.

    April 23, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Our young people are progressive and smart and have no interest in a party such as the GOP that doesn't embrace a changing World and always talk about "the way things used to be" which really means "taking our country backwards".

    April 23, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Bill

    Yes, the youth vote will favor Obama, and in a big way. There are millions that have come of voting age since 2008, and the GOP has nothing to reach out and offer a viable alternative. Sadly for the GOP , these kids have brains and can see throught the smoke and mirrors and the empty divisive rhetoric that they spew. And Ray E. in GA – not sure where you have been, but tuition for college has been going up for the last 50 years. Simple fact of life. No one likes it, but you just deal with it. Nothing new there. And I would hard call 24 straight months of job creation to the tune of 3.5 million jobs stagnant. We can always do better, but stagnant, no.

    April 23, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  16. michaelam

    Of course, President Obama will capture the "youth vote." Young people do not focus on putting forth their efforts to deny others of their Civil Rights. They do not succumb to the GOP platform of God, Gold, and Greed. They view others, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, their EQUALS. They are concerned about student debt, job prospects, and a flourishing economy. Moreover, they do not support any of our numerous wars and wish that we would focus our resources on building our own country! How do I know all of this????? I am the mother of two college age boys that laugh daily at the Republican "platform!" Cannot win elections relying on the angry, older, white male vote.

    April 23, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. Larry L

    @Ray E. (Georgia)
    "Tax the rich, lose a job. Seems like a fair exchange."
    Trickle-down economics is the Republican election year mantra... The uber-rich are called "job creators, innovators, and investors"... So where are the jobs? Their taxes haven't changed, their money is still going offshore and they're doing very well at every level. When has trickle-down economics actually worked? The actual economic numbers for the last forty years shows the opposite – with all classes of our society doing better when the wealthy paid a hoigher rate – even the top tier did better! Job creators? Where are the jobs? Why are they invested in China? Where is the capital base? Where?

    April 23, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Ethan

    A report out today says that half of the latest college graduates are jobless or under employed. Welcome to the Obama economy. If you call that progress I hate to see what another four years of this Democatic disaster would get them. You can't pay student loans on food stamps.

    April 23, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. z

    he's wasting his time. all the youth, including this soon to be 18 first voter, are going to Ron Paul.

    April 23, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Leftists always USE the young, naive, uneducated and ill informed young to further their cause. In this case, Obama, as he has done with everything else, offers up bribes to get their votes. If these young, naive, uneducated and ill informed young really knew and understood the massive damage Obama and the Democrats have done to their future by saddling them with massive debt, they would be outraged. But in our live for today, instant gratification society NOBODY looks at the long term implications.

    All Obama and the Demorcats have to offer young people is a bankrupt country and a dismal future.

    April 23, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Jerry

    I wonder if our American students are desperate and ignorant enough to allow themselves to be bought by Mr. Obama and his delusional cronies. I really think our students are smarter than that. Can't say the same thing about most of the professors. They've already been bought and paid for. Time will tell.

    Just asking. I WILL stay tuned...

    April 23, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. judy

    the young democrats I have met at caucus and coventions are not dumb or Naive. They are smart well informed.people. They will vote for president Obama becaues they are well informed and are tired of the past. They can look at programs objectivly and have some great ideas for the future. They are the future.

    April 23, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. Stan

    Obama is the anti-prosperity President. He wants to spread the wealth but the only propblem is the size and scope of government only goes so far....

    April 23, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    The student loan program is a textbook example of conservative legislative policies providing corporate welfare to the private sector. Government student loans used to come straight from the government. The Bush administration privatized some of the loans, creating a brand new cottage industry to siphon of student loan dollars to the private banks.. The interest rates private banks can charge are set by Congress. When the rate goes up, it means higher profits for the private institutions engaged in the federal student loan program. Interest are not the problem, but the symptom. The problem is the privatization of the student loan programs.

    April 23, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. MaryM

    The "young" voters are NOT naive. They can smell romeny's phony speeches a mile away

    April 23, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
1 2 3