President Barack Obama today suggested that’s he’ll pressure Congress to to reduce voters’ student-loan payments before the November elections.
“We’ve got to make it easier to repay student loans,” he told a subdued and unresponsive audience at Bladensburg High School, in Prince George’s County, Md.
He used the same student-loan pitch in the run-up to the 2012 election, which helped him improve his support among younger voters, many of whom are having difficulty earning enough in the Obama economy to pay off their college debts.
In June 2012, Congress voted to delay a planned increase in student-loan interest rates, after much public pressure from Obama.
Throughout the election year, Obama used the issue to promote himself during speeches in colleges and schools.
The nation’s collective student-loan debt zoomed past $1 trillion late 2011.
It grew rapidly in the last few years, partly because many young people dropped out of the lousy job-market to win new credentials and skills.
The debt also rose because college prices have been rising, partly because many students can get low-cost government loans. Costs rose 8.5 percent in 2011, by 4.5 percent in 2012, and by 2.9 percent in 2013.
Obama won control over the student-loan market in 2010, when the Obamacare law was passed. The law effectively pushed private banks out of the sector because it allowed the government to offer cheaper loans than banks. That means the federal government can raise or lower interest-rates to suit its political priorities — such as reelection.
Obama used today’s campaign-like speech to tout his administration’s efforts to increase technical and vocational education in schools, including at the high school, whose student body is evenly split between Latinos and African-Americans.