If young Americans play along with his priorities, they’ll get paid, Obama emphasized to compliant students at a Friday meeting in Scranton, Pa.
“You may choose a profession that doesn’t pay a lot of money … if you’re giving back to the community, we should help you do it,” he said.
“If you’re willing to commit to five years working in a place that doesn’t have a doctor and you’re studying to be a doctor, we’re going to forgive you a bunch of those loans,” he told a Binghamton graduate student seeking more federal cash.
There were no dissenting questions among the university-trained attendees in Binghamton.
“I’m going to shut up and listen to the wisdom that I hope you will bring to my question,” said one academic who was showed his eagerness to enlist in the president’s effort to redesign the nation’s energy sector.
During his speeches on the two-day tour, Obama conceded nothing to the free-market and conservative advocates who say ambitious government wrecks more than it can deliver.
“I’m a doctoral student here as well as a writing instructor at Syracuse University,” said one questioner. Federal funds “are going to for-profit colleges — or colleges I might even call predatory … so I’d like to hear your insight.”
“I’m not against for-profit institutions, generally,” Obama said.
“What you’re absolutely right about is, is that there have been some schools that are notorious for getting students in, getting a bunch of [federal] grant money, having those students take out a lot of loans, making big profits, but having really low graduation rates,” said Obama, who learned politics in Chicago, when the graduation rate in government schools was 44 percent.
Nationally, private sector and government-overseen colleges graduate only 58 percent of students by the sixth year of four-year courses.
Obama’s confidence in government even survives his own experience in Washington. His presidency has cost future taxpayers at least $7 trillion in new debt, yet average household income has fallen 4.4 percent since 2009, and the formal unemployment rate has fallen largely because millions of Americans have given up looking for jobs.
“The other party right now in Congress…. seem more interested in trying to placate their base or scoring political points,” complained Obama, the nation’s top Democrat.
“That can’t be how we run a country,” he said.
“That’s not responsible leadership.”