Throughout the Republican Primary campaign Mitt Romney’s opponents attacked him as being a flip-flopper. Now that he’s all but sealed up the nomination, he is already moving away from his positions stated during the primary campaign.
On Monday, Romney changed his tune and came out in support of President Obama’s proposal to extend the reduced student loan interest rates.
“There’s one thing I want to mention that I forgot to mention at the very beginning and that was that particularly with the mention of the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney said.
He added that there was “some concern” that the low interest rates would expire halfway through the year, and emphasized that “I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students as a result of – as a result of student loans, obviously – in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.”
In his Weekly Address President Obama called on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1000 to their debt. Having a college education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive. While the Obama administration has taken historic steps to provide Americans with a fair shot at an affordable college education, Republicans in Congress have instead prioritized huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.
“In America, higher education cannot be a luxury. It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford. That’s why next week I’ll be visiting colleges across the country, talking to students about how we can make higher education more affordable – and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it. You see, if Congress doesn’t act, on July 1st interest rates on some student loans will double. Nearly seven and half million students will end up owing more on their loan payments. That would be a tremendous blow. And it’s completely preventable.
This issue didn’t come out of nowhere. For some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable – to prevent these interest rates from doubling, to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, and to double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.
Instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, and voted for huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires – tax cuts that would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.
We cannot just cut our way to prosperity. Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education and earn their degrees is nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees. Congress needs to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.” — President Barack Obama, 4-21-2012
Former Governor Mitt Romney has endorsed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal that would cut funding for student loans and double the interest rates paid by students on their student loans.
The Ryan Budget Would Allow The Interest Rate For Student Loans To Double. “There was wide agreement among members of Congress Wednesday that loans and grants are important, but there were questions about the $6 billion Obama proposal that would hold interest rates constant next year. Ryan’s budget would allow the rate to double as planned.” [Inside Higher Ed, 3/29/12]
Romney: “I’m Very Supportive Of The Ryan Budget Plan” Which “Is Very Similar To The One That I Put Out. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier. I think it’s amazing that we have a president who three and a half years in still hasn’t put a proposal out that deals with entitlements. This president’s dealing with entitlement reform — excuse me — this budget deals with entitlement reform, tax policy, which as you know is very similar to the one that I put out and efforts to reign in excessive spending. I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.” [Politico, 3/20/12]
Romney: “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch… I’d Love To Help More Kids Go To School That Want To Go To School, But I’m Not Going To Get Up And Promise More And More Spending In Virtually Every Area People Think Is Important.” Romney said, “You know, um, it is—it has been the, um, the approach of people running for college to promise more more more to every constituency. And to say, ‘I’m going to give more to every group. I’m going to give you more money and you more money and you more money.’ And that’s what’s gotten us into the mess we’re in. And I’d love to say, ‘Look, we’re going to give you money for your kids going to college. And we’re going to give you money for every program that you might think of.’ And if I did that, I might be having better political prospects, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth. And, frankly, we can’t keep on spending more than we take in. And if we raise taxes on people, then those people will have a harder time buying things, which will make our economy worse and put more people out of work. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. I’d love to do more to help people who are sending kids to college. But I—and I’m happy to look at the programs that we have and see if we can make them more efficient and more effective. You know, we have college loan programs. Some of them are working well and some probably need improvement. I look to make government as efficient and as effective as possible. I’d love to help more kids go to school that want to go to school, but I’m not going to get up and promise more and more spending in virtually every area people think is important.” [WMUR, 7/14/11]
Given the evidence that Mitt Romney cannot even hold a consistent position on funding for higher education and student loans for more than two months, how can anyone believe he means what he is saying now?
AS GOVERNOR, ROMNEY CUT HIGHER EDUCATION BY MILLIONS AS TUITION AND FEES INCREASED
Romney Cut $140 Million – 14 Percent – Of The Higher Education Budget During His Tenure. “Another shift hit students at state colleges and universities, where fees soared 63 percent during Romney’s tenure, from an average of $2,959 in 2003 to $4,836 in 2007, according to the state Board of Higher Education. The fee hikes were enacted by each campus to offset deep budget cuts of about $140 million, or about 14 percent, during the fiscal crisis.” [Boston Globe, 6/29/07]
His record as a Governor would seem to indicate where he really stands on higher education.