Fox News host Andrea Tantaros accused President Obama of trying to "bribe" college students by pushing lawmakers to extend lower interest rates on student loans -- even as she acknowledged Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supports the plan.
It's unclear why Tantaros would even bother making this accusation when, as she noted during the segment, Romney said on Monday: "I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans." He went on to tell reporters:
"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."
President Obama's proposal to urge Congress to extend the lower interest rates for federally subsidized student loans is especially important considering student-loan debt is "reaching crisis proportions." As the Associated Press reported:
Surging above $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto-loan debt. This debt explosion jeopardizes the fragile recovery, increases the burden on taxpayers and possibly sets the stage for a new economic crisis.
With a still-wobbly jobs market, these loans are increasingly hard to pay off. Unable to find work, many students have returned to school, further driving up their indebtedness.
Average student loan debt recently topped $25,000, up 25 per cent in 10 years. And the mushrooming debt has direct implications for taxpayers, since 8 in 10 of these loans are government-issued or guaranteed.
Obama's proposal would extend the lower rates that were put in effect in 2007:
President Obama used his weekly video address to launch what will be a weeklong push on the issue of college affordability, pressing lawmakers to act to prevent a sharp increase in interest rates for student loans.
Legislation passed in 2007 temporarily halved the interest rates for Stafford Loans from 6.8% to 3.2%. If Congress does not act to extend the lower rates by July 1, as many as 7 million families could face higher payments, the White House estimates.
Tantaros' uninspired criticism of Obama's latest effort to help ease the burden of student loan debts isn't new. After the president unveiled a plan last October to provide some student loan relief, several Fox hosts similarly accused Obama of trying to buy votes.