Decoding Democrats’ Spin of Obama’s Veto ThreatApril 29, 2012
But Obama’s momentum with young adults hit a brick wall on Friday when Obama’s reelection politics trumped his policy pandering. This CNN headline says it all: “White House: Obama Would Veto GOP Student Loan Plan.”
Despite saying multiple times that he supported extending lower interest rates for student loans, Obama just couldn’t let the GOP-led House take the lead.
Why? Because he sees the veto threat as a political win-win.
You see, the House version of the bill to extend lower interest rates is deficit neutral by design, an effort by Republicans to keep college graduates from facing enormous debt payments in a down economy while also keeping some semblance of fiscal responsibility. The cut Republicans settled on was to the “Prevention and Public Health Fund,” which, despite the important sounding name, has acted as little more than a slush fund for Obama to spend on his health care priorities.
On the one hand Democrats could kill the bill and then blame Republicans or a “do nothing Congress” for allowing interest rates to go up. Or, Democrats could demagogue Republicans’ choice for an off-set, despite prior bipartisan agreement that it should be cut.
The Obamacare prevention fund has been labeled a “profligate program” by the Citizens Against Government Waste because it awarded grants for such things as “increas[ing] the number of farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods, boost[ing] amounts of locally-produced food, and mandat[ing] certain types of foods in daycare centers.” In other cases the Fund has actually been used to lobby for higher taxes on certain foods like soda and potato chips.
If you didn’t catch the sad irony there – our tax dollars are being used to lobby for higher taxes!
The Fund is so ridiculous that even President Obama and Congressional Democrats have supported cutting it. Obama’s “American Jobs Act” proposal included a $3.5 billion cut to the Fund, going to far as to say “there should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation.”
Although Obama’s budget didn’t pass, Congressional Democrats have actually voted to cut the Fund. In February, to pay for a bill to ensure Medicare payments to physicians didn’t face a dramatic cut, 147 House Democrats supported a $5 billion cut to the Obamacare prevention fund.
Apparently cuts to the Fund can only be made by Democrats when they want to find offsets to pay for their priorities. The economic well-being of young adults must not fit the bill.
Despite that backstory Obama has counseled Democrats to seize on the cut as a means of continuing the wrongheaded theme that Republicans are waging a war on women. Apparently, women are the only ones who would have used the preventative care, had the Prevention and Public Health fund ever actually gotten around to living up to its name.
Sensing that politics were once again getting in the way of actual governance, House Speaker John Boehner went nuts. “Do we have to fight about everything,” Boehner asked, banging his fist on the podium.”
“Nobody wants to see student interest rates go up, especially when you got recent college graduates – 50 percent are either unemployed or underemployed as a result of the president’s economic policies,” Boehner said. “There is absolutely no fight. People want to politicize this because it’s an election year, but my God do we have to fight about everything?”
Sorry, fellow college students, the answer is apparently “yes.” And that signals that we are no longer the focus of this debate.
A bill is out there, ready for the Senate to approve and Obama to sign that would keep student interest rates from doubling. But the president can’t let a good opportunity to demagogue Republicans go to waste. So, young adults remain in peril of watching helplessly as their debt burden skyrockets without any economic improvements to offset it. And Obama, for all his wooing of young adults, is apparently ready to let that happen, all in the name of good politics.