The Obama-Romney Education Plan
By James Freeman
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE
Tuesday, 24 April 12
Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum warned that Mitt Romney might not present a "clear contrast" to President Obama in the general election. Judging by Monday's action on the campaign trail, Mr. Santorum had a point.
On a day when the White House urged Congress to increase student-loan subsidies, Mr. Romney had an opportunity to draw a sharp distinction between the expanding the Obama entitlement state and a plan focused on revival of the private economy. Mr. Romney rightly focused his attention on rising unemployment among recent college graduates, as well as the huge federal debt "they're going to have to pay off all their lives."
But instead of laying out plans to create jobs and reduce government spending, the former Massachusetts governor arrived at the same policy conclusion as Barack Obama. "Given the bleak job prospects that young Americans coming out of college face today," said Mr. Romney, "I encourage Congress to temporarily extend the current low rate on subsidized undergraduate Stafford loans. I also hope the president and Congress can pass the extension responsibly that offsets its cost in a way that doesn't harm the job prospects of young Americans."
House members who have been opposing the extension know it is anything but responsible. The Obama-Romney subsidy will keep rates as low as 3.4% for many student borrowers, not that far above the 3.1% rate that the Treasury pays to borrow for the long term. If interest rates spike, taxpayers could be losing on every single new loan, never mind the cost of defaults. And as for offsets, the White House and Senate Democrats favor a new tax on small businesses. If Mr. Romney can't provide a contrast to that idea, Republicans will know they're in for a very long campaign.