Speaking at a high school graduation, President Barack Obama went political, telling the students to vote, and blasting Senate Republicans for failing to pass a bill to lower the rates on student loans.
“Today that idea was defeated by Republicans in Congress, which was frustrating,” Obama said giving the commencement address for Worcester Technical High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, prompting some students in the audience to boo the GOP vote.
“Well, don’t boo, just remember to vote,” Obama said. “This is frustrating to parents. Its frustrating to students who are working hard and doing everything right. There are too many politicians in Washington who don’t have the right priorities. We need to straighten them out.”
The Senate voted 58-38 Wednesday to bring the student loan bill to a vote, but that was short of the 60 votes needed for close debate.
“Maybe they forgot where they came from and who invested in them along the way,” Obama said. “When a bill to help you pay off your college doesn’t pass, it’s a disservice not only to your generation but to our history as a nation that strives to put quality education within the reach of every American. So we’re going to have to keep on putting pressure on Congress. But in the meantime, when Congress won’t act, I’m going to do whatever I can on my own.”
Republicans criticized the bill saying that it was an election year stunt that would do nothing to curb college costs.
Obama then talked about an executive order he signed Monday that would cap payments on student loans to 10 percent of a person’s income.
“It is not fair to students who do everything right to get saddled with debt that they have to pay off not just for years but in some cases decades,” Obama said. We can do better than that.”
Obama joked with the students about his own high school years, that he has been frank about in the past.
“I have to say, I do not remember my high school graduation speaker,” he told the students. “I have no idea who it was. I’m sure I was thinking about the party after graduation. I don’t remember the party either. I’m just telling the truth. You will remember the speaker at this graduation because there is a lot of Secret Service around, not because of anything I say that’s so inspiring.”