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Obama accuses Congress of 'playing chicken' with student-loan rates

With less than two weeks to go before student-loan interest rates are slated to double, President Obama urged his frequent foil, the “do-nothing Congress,” to extend the low rates before the July 1st deadline.

Addressing a group of college students in the East Room of the White House, the president said despite his efforts, Congress has remained obstinate on the issue.

“We've been stuck watching Congress play chicken with another deadline,” he said. 

Susan Walsh / AP

President Barack Obama greets students after he called on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling next month during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

But earlier, during Thursday’s daily briefing, press secretary Jay Carney suggested the administration is bridging the gap with Republicans over how to pay for the extension. While Democrats want to cut subsidies for oil-and-gas companies, Republicans have suggested raising the amount federal employees contribute to their retirement accounts or adjusting state Medicaid payments.

“We’re getting to a point where we can hopefully reach an agreement that everybody can sign onto,” he said during the daily White House briefing.

But Carney refused to specify the congressional Republicans with whom the administration is working, even as one reporter noted that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) say the White House hasn’t reached out to them.

“I don't have specific names for you to provide," Carney said. "It is irrelevant whether or not I have a roster of names.”

But, he continued, a deal would, in fact, be the result of bipartisan -- if nameless at first -- work.  

“It will not be a miraculous conception," Carney said. "It will be the result of negotiations between this administration and Congress."