Just when most students are preparing for summer break, the President has returned to school. He turned up on three campuses this week and I’m sure the professor in him enjoyed the outing with all those young people. The reason for his visit was one that his audiences could applaud: the extension of the current 3.4 percent interest rate on student loans.
Student debt is now greater than credit card debt and Obama wants to prevent GOP lawmakers from making it worse. Congress reduced the rate to 3.4% five years ago, but it will return to 6.8% in July unless Congress extends the lower amount. Polls show that 62% of Americans favor the extension, while 19% say the lower rate is unaffordable.
Majorities on both sides of the aisle say they favor keeping the rate low, too. But don’t count Missouri’s notoriously regressive Congressman Todd Aiken in that number. The wannabe senatorial candidate offered a moronic comment that caused the President to stutter in disbelief when recalling Aiken’s comparison of student loans to the “stage three cancer of socialism”—a faulty and poorly constructed analogy if ever I’ve seen one.
The good news for Obama comes from the recent poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics, showing the President leading Romney by 17 points among 18 to 29 year old voters. That sounds goods until you recall that he led McCain by 34 points in the same category four years ago.
Time will tell if the job market has lessened support for Obama among young people and whether he can re-energize this segment of the electorate that came out for him so overwhelmingly in 2008. Romney is hoping student have forget his earlier disdain for financial aid. Now that he has captured enough conservatives to sew up the GOP nomination, he is out to woo students and has given a belated thumbs up to Obama’s proposal.
Just as women, Latinos, seniors, and workers have a lots of good reasons to distrust Romney, so do student. That’s why it’s important for Obama to give them a refresher course on just what’s at stake in November.