During a town hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire today, Mitt Romney took a question from a St. Anselm junior who just took out her first loan. The student asked Romney to explain his plan for her generation, which is facing a student debt crisis of historic proportions.
Rather than propose a substantive plan to help college students afford their education, Romney offered a generalized critique of the economy without once mentioning the student debt crisis. Romney essentially told the young woman to get a job, cracking a joke about how the new American dream is “getting your kids out of the home you own.”
ROMNEY: The first thing I will do is to make sure we do not keep adding more and more debt you do not even know about. That’s number one. Number two, the next thing I will do for you is to make sure when you graduate, you can get a job. Half of the kids coming out of college this year, half can’t find a job or a job that is consistent with a college degree. It’s unacceptable. We have to make sure young people coming into the work force can get a job…Now I know it is very tempting as a politician to go out and say, you know what, I’ll just give you some money. The government’s just going to give you some money and pay back your loans for you. I’m not going to tell you something that’s not the truth. Because that is just taking money from your other pocket and giving it to the other pocket. I’m not going to go out and promise all sorts of free stuff that I know you’re going to end up paying for. What I want to do is give you a great job so you will be able to pay back yourself. And I want to get the government off your back so you can keep more of what you earned.
Two-thirds of American students go into debt in order to get a college degree, and some estimates have put the national student loan debt at $1 trillion. In the past, Romney has revealed his indifference toward rising tuition costs by blithely telling students to “get as much education as they can afford,” “borrow money if you have to from your parents,” or join the military. Meanwhile, Romney has chosen a running mate who wants to gut Pell grants for more than 1 million students in the next decade. Obama, on the other hand, recently signed a bill to keep student loan interest rates from doubling.