Obama Touts Education Goals, Barrasso Criticizes Government Growth

Posted October 9, 2010 at 5:00am

President Barack Obama on Saturday called it “an economic imperative” to create the best education system possible and took a shot at Republicans for seeking cuts to education funding. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) responded by accusing Obama and Democrats of having “broken their promises” on policies relating to jobs, spending and health care.

During his weekly radio address, Obama highlighted steps he has taken to strengthen education, including the Skills for America’s Future program, which launched this week and connects students with businesses looking to hire. In addition, Democrats have taken steps to eliminate “tens of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies for banks” and use that money to make college more affordable, the president said.

“Yet, if Republicans in Congress had their way, we’d have a harder time” meeting the administration’s goal of graduating a higher proportion of students from college than any other country in the world by 2020, Obama said.

“They’d have us cut education by 20 percent: cuts that would reduce financial aid for eight million students, cuts that would leave our great and undervalued community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future,” he said.

Obama said while there are some “tough choices” to be made to rein in federal spending, “What I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education.”

Meanwhile, Barrasso said Democrats’ promises that “massive federal spending would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent” were a flop. “Instead, what taxpayers got was $800 billion in new debt and nearly 10 percent unemployment,” he said.

The Wyoming Republican said Obama also broke a promise that people could keep their existing health care plans under the health overhaul. Employers may be forced to stop offering insurance “because of the cost and the penalties” of reform, he said, and “millions of American seniors” could be forced out of Medicare Advantage plans.

“The president’s policies are irresponsible and unsustainable,” he said.

Barrasso pointed to the GOP’s “Pledge to America” as a roadmap for how Republicans will take the country in a better direction.

Through the pledge, Republicans commit to “prevent tax hikes, to reduce federal spending, and to work every day to repeal the massive new health care law and replace it with common-sense reforms that lower costs,” he said.