ARLINGTON, VA -- President Obama noted the lackluster April jobs report pegging the nation's unemployment rate at 8.1 percent at a high school here in suburban Washignton before pivoting to speak about student loan interest rates.
He characterized as “good news” the fact that the unemployment “ticked down again” from 8.2 to 8.1 percent, but added that his administration still has more work to do.
“After the worst economic crisis since the great depression our businesses have now created more than 4.2 million new jobs over the last 26 months. More than 1 million jobs in the last 6 months alone. So that's the good news, but there's still a lot of folks out of work, which means we have to do more," Obama said.
He said that one of the things the government could do to help the economy was keep interest rates on federal Stafford student college loans from spiking from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent in July.
“Congress also has to do its part. Right now that means preventing the interest of student loans from doubling which would make it harder for you to pay for college next year.”
He also criticized House Republicans who passed a bill last week that would have paid for an extension of the low student loan rates by taking money out of a women’s preventive care fund established through the health care reform law.
“House Republicans are saying they’re only going to prevent these rates from doubling if they can cut things like preventive health for women instead,” he said.
Obama encouraged the students to take to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to pressure their members of Congress to vote to keep rates down.
“I want you to send a message to Congress. Tell them don’t double my rate. You should call them, you should email them, write on their Facebook page, Tweet them… teach your parents how to tweet,” he joked.
The president’s visit to the Washington-Lee High School in the D.C. suburbs was his first of two trips to the crucial swing state of Virginia in as many days.