With a July 1 rate increase on education loans approaching, President Obama told about 2,500 students at the University of Las Vegas on Thursday that it is Congress's job to move swiftly to prevent the rise, even as Republicans accused him of ignoring their most recent proposals.
The president delivered a new broadside against Congress for not passing key pieces of his job creation plan and warned of the consequences of congressional inaction on the student loan issue: an increase of $1,000 on the average federally subsidized Stafford loan for more than 7 million people. He urged students to call, email and tweet lawmakers to force action.
"How many people can afford to pay an extra $1,000 when you're student, just because Congress can't get its act together?" Obama said. "This is a no-brainer. ... Get it done."
Obama sought to spread the word that his administration is speeding a change in a 2009 law that will allow people who remain current on repaying their federal Stafford loans to have their repayments capped at 10 percent of their disposable income, down from 15 percent, so borrowers can more easily manage their debt. The change is to take effect in 2014, but the administration wants the cap effective for new loans after this year.
Leaders in both parties insist that they want to find a way to prevent subsidized Stafford loan rates from jumping from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent next month. But they've been unable to agree on how to pay for the $6 billion cost of extending the lowered rates for another year.
Arguing that the growing government control of the economy threatens the nation's freedom, Mitt Romney on Thursday said President Obama is trying to transform the nation into one at odds with its founding.
"America is on the cusp of having a government-run economy. That's where he's taking us. President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity and we know where that transformation leads," he told several hundred supporters at a St. Louis factory that produces equipment for the military that protects soldiers from chemical, biological and nuclear threats. "There are other nations that have chosen that path. It leads to high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages, and, yeah, Greece. I don't want to transform America. I want to restore to America the principles that made us the hope of the Earth."