President Obama on Tuesday suggested that Mitt Romney doesn’t understand the plight of the average college student because, unlike most students, the former Massachusetts governor comes from a wealthy and privileged family.
“When a high school student in Youngstown asked him what he would do to make college more affordable for families like his, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that are critical to millions of students to get a college education; nothing about work-study programs, or rising college tuition; he didn't say a word about community colleges, or how important higher education is to America’s economic future,” the president said during a campaign stop at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. “He said the best thing you can do is shop around.”
Obviously, the president feels Romney's "shop around" reply was wholly unsatisfactory.
“That’s it -- that’s his plan. That’s his answer to young people who are trying to figure out to go to college and make sure they don't have a mountain of debt -- shop around and borrow money from your parents," President Obama repeated.
“Not everybody has parents who have the money to lend [emphasis ours]," he added.
But let’s go back for a moment and inspect the president’s anecdote about Romney and the high school you student. You see, it’s not entirely accurate.
At the aforementioned rally in Youngstown, Ohio, the supposed high school student said the following [emphasis added]:
I just started law school [some high school, right?], and they're doing away with unsubsidized loans for grad students, which makes it almost impossible to pay off our debts, have a house, have a car, have a family before we retire. What are you going to do for people like me?
“You know, I wish I could tell you that there's a place to find really cheap money or free money and we could pay for everyone's education. That's just not going to happen,” Romney replied. “I would like to have more competition between schools. I hope you shopped around and tried to find a school that has the lowest possible tuition.”
First, is that so unreasonable? Second, it should be noted that Romney is not the first to argue for more competition in education.
Nevertheless, and despite possibly having his anecdotes mixed up, the president soldiered on, making the case for more government investment in education and infrastructure.
“I am only standing before you today because of the chance my education gave me,” the president said. “So I can tell you with some experience that making higher education more affordable for our young people is something I’ve got a personal stake in ... I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families just doesn’t seem to be a big priority for my opponent.”
The Romney campaign was quick to respond and accused the Obama administration of being the opposite of helpful to college students.
“Just yesterday, President Obama told struggling college graduates to look at his ‘track record,’ but under this president, too many young Americans are suffering from higher college costs, more debt, and a lack of good jobs when they graduate,” said Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg in a statement.
“Today’s policies are just more of the same from a president who hasn’t fixed the economy or kept his promises to the young people who supported him four years ago. The Romney-Ryan plan will deliver 12 million new jobs to help recent graduates -- and all Americans -- enjoy a more prosperous future,” she added.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Front page photo source courtesy the AP.