Politics

Biden pitches education subsidies to scared students, parents

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The White House has produced a new campaign-style video highlighting Vice President Joe Biden’s low-key education policy pitches in three swing states.

The video was principally shot at Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Florida, where Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan road-tested their 2012 message to parents and students worried about paying for college.

The faces in the video are mostly white middle-class mothers. They’re critical to Obama’s reelection plans, partly because they’re swing voters who have moved away from Obama since 2008.

“College education is almost an actual prerequisite for a ticket to the middle class… [and] the incredible cost of college education is crushing hundreds of thousands of parents,” Biden says in the video, most of which was taken from the Dec. 8 event.

Since then, he has given similar presentations to audiences and TV cameras in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are two of five swing states that he has said he will focus on during the 2012 race.

The topic may become a major theme of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

“This is a national conversation — they’re still a lot of hard work ahead of us,” Duncan says in the video.

Also, Biden hints at novel announcements by Obama, who has long cultivated a close relationship with high-status universities and their solidly Democratic employees. “We’re pushing colleges and universities to become more efficient… they need to do their part, and right now, they’re not doing enough,” Biden says in the video.

Watch:

Biden’s pitch skillfully uses three government-enabled crises to pressure parents into supporting even further government intervention in the education sector.

The crises are the federal-government-fueled rise in college costs, the federal-government-initiated real estate bubble that devastated parents’ wealth in 2007 and 2008, and the federal government’s workplace regulations that make a college degree the primary ticket to middle-class social status.

Each crisis makes a college degree harder to win — or more painful to forego — and all are caused by policies still favored by Biden and other Democrats.

Biden’s videotaped pitch initially emphasizes the cost-related issues that worry many status-conscious parents, but then reassures them that the administration is stepping up with more federal subsidies.

Duncan adds that “going to college, I think, has never been more important, and unfortunately, has never been more expensive. … The jobs of the future are going to go to knowledge workers.”

To seal the deal, Biden also lists subsidies and grants that Obama is directing toward the students. He doesn’t, however, remind his audience that students are also future taxpayers who will someday have to pay off today’s inflated education costs.

In his Florida school speech, Biden repeatedly portrayed Obama and himself, plus their wives, as the solution to the three crises. “Barack, Michelle, Jill [Biden] and I, we don’t forget: It’s not just about you guys, it’s about your parents,” he told the students,

That overdone passage was left on the cutting room floor, and was not included in the final video, which is only four minutes long.

Also cut from the video were Biden’s boasts about his own children’s credentials from prestigious universities and their combined college debt of $274,000.

In addition, the White House video doesn’t show Biden’s partisan efforts to blame Republicans for college costs. Lots of Americans, he says, “really don’t think public education is the key. … [GOP politicians] want to cut it by a third.”

That partisan segment may yet be used by Obama’s Chicago-based campaign team in a campaign-ad.

But Biden ends the video with a religious revival-style pitch to parents and students.

“I have a lot of faith, if we can give you a chance to get to school, that capacity locked inside of you has a chance to break out.”

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