As he traveled to three swing states this week to talk about student loan costs, President Barack Obama has been turning the words of Republican members of Congress against them in order to underscore, as the president characterizes it, their indifference to the struggles of college students.
Tuesday, Obama paraphrased Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC, who said in a radio interview that she has “very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that.”
She went on to say, “I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says, ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ You don’t just sit on your butt and have it dumped in your lap.”
Speaking at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the president said he would quote Foxx’s remarks, “because I know you guys will think I'm making it up.”
“She said she had ‘very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there's no reason for that,’” Obama said, even though he left out the amount of student debt Foxx said she did not tolerate students accumulating.
NRO’s Katrina Trinko pointed to a study by the New York Federal Reserve that showed the average outstanding student loan nationally was $23,300 and almost 95 percent of student loan borrowers owed less than $75,000, so Foxx’s remarks referred to a small number of debtors.
Obama also cited Foxx at his next speech at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
“She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity ‘dumped in your lap.’”
“I can tell you, Michelle and I, we didn't take out loans because we were lazy,” he continued to laughter. “You didn't take out loans because you're lazy.”
At his final speech Wednesday at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Obama quoted from Rep. Todd Akin, R-MO, who was asked during a Senate debate (he’s seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill) whether he would vote on a bill to keep student loan interest rates from increasing in July.
Akin responded, "America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in. So, first to answer your question precisely – what the Democrats did to get rid of the private student loans and take it all over by the government was wrong. It was a lousy bill. That's why I voted no."
Obama made use of Akin’s words today, telling the Iowa students, “You've got one member of Congress who compared these student loans -- I'm not kidding here -- to a ‘stage-three cancer of socialism.’”
“Stage-three cancer? I don't know where to start. What do you mean? What are you talking about? 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,” he said.
Obama’s Iowa speech came just hours before House Speaker John Boehner announced his caucus’ plan to introduce their own bill to extend the current 3.4 percent interest rate for one year to prevent it from rising to 6.8 percent.
Boehner’s office said the extension would be paid for by re-allocating college financial aid funds that were diverted by Democrats to pay for the health care law.
“In essence, they raided student aid to pay for a health care law that is making it harder for American small businesses to hire new workers – including recent college graduates,” Boehner’s office said in a statement.