Obama's background is college. He probably feels more at home at a university than anywhere else in the universe. Four years as an undergrad. Three more getting his JD. Twelve more teaching law at the University of Chicago. And this week he's going back to college campuses to campaign.
I could rant and rave about how he's using your tax money to do so. This trip to the Universities of North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa is being called "official," and not political. Which means you're paying for it. It's a weird coincidence that all three of these states will be hotly contested in November. I could discourse about such expenditures being paid for by taxpayers being akin to Big Banks using Bailout money to fund "business trips" to Las Vegas. But that would be too easy. It would be an emotionally based tirade. And since Obama is barnstorming college campuses across the country, I'm going to try to keep things intellectual in this post.
Every week, the Obama Campaign Machine mobilizes on a new issue and attacks Mitt Romney and the Right. Remember that Phony War on Women a few weeks ago. How about Romney's car elevator. Last week it was the Buffett Rule. This week it's student loans. It's classic divide and conquer campaigning. Group people together, then point out how much you're on the side of their group, and how much your opponent is against that group.
Recent college grads are finding themselves in a very tough job market. 53.6% of recently graduated bachelor's degree holders are either unemployed or underemployed (Source). And these people are also burdened with massive amounts of student loan debt. The interest on which might increase from 3.4% to 6.8% in a few months.
A college education is less likely to result in a job. Yet the cost of that education has increased dramatically. How is it possible for the value of something to decrease at the same time that its price increases? Well that conversation is for another time. Part of the reason is that the price of college is artificially inflated by how easy it is to get a student loan. Which means it's easier for families to pay for college no matter what the actual price. Which means colleges can spend millions on new buildings and send out thousands of brochures that have pictures of students from 5 different ethnic groups on the cover.
Both Obama and Romney are in favor of legislation that would prevent student loan interest from doubling to 6.8%. And that makes sense. I think raising the rate would only raise the number of defaults. And politically, it's smart for both candidates to support college students that are struggling to pay off their debt. Students were part of Obama's base in 2008. And while Romney will never claim an outright victory in the 18-34 demographic, if he can convert a few of them, and avoid enraging the rest of them with higher interest rates, then he drastically improves his chances of victory in November.
Both Obama and Romney agree that recent college grads are facing enormous challenges. Where Obama and Romney differ is in the philosophy of how those problems should be fixed. Obama is focused on making it easier for them to survive in this harsh economic climate. He wants to give out umbrellas on a rainy day.
Romney, on the other hand, is focused on the climate. He wants a Government that taxes less and spends less. He wants policies that foster economic growth and to remove policies that hinder it, so jobs are created and recent college grads can afford to buy their own umbrellas.
So the question is, do people want a President who will take care of them when it rains. Or a President that will give them a chance to take care of themselves. Do you want to be taken care of, or take care of yourself? Do you want Dependence or Independence?