Paul Ryan’s addition to the Republican presidential ticket unleashed a new back-and-forth over the future of Medicare. But Democrats believe Ryan also gives them an opening to talk about another seminal issue tied to the congressman’s controversial budget: education.
On Tuesday, President Obama will go on offense over education, an issue where the Romney-Ryan ticket is vulnerable because of the cuts to popular programs like Pell grants for college students under the Ryan budget.
Ryan’s education cuts will be central to Obama’s attacks Tuesday. Beginning with a speech at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, the president will hammer the massive cuts contained in Paul’s budget plan, including $115 billion cut from the Department of Education, and 2 million fewer children enrolled in Head Start, according to the Associated Press.
The president will also target the top of the ticket, highlighting Romney’s comments about shopping around for a cheap college and borrowing money from your parents.
“A few months ago, just up the road in Westerville, Gov. Romney said if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or start a business, you can just ‘borrow money if you have to from your parents,’” Obama will say in Columbus, according to prepared remarks. “That’s it — that’s his plan. That’s his answer for a young person hoping to go to college — shop around, borrow money from your parents if you have to — but if they don’t have it, you’re on your own.”
Obama and Ryan’s visions for the education system “couldn’t be more distinct,” Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, which endorsed Obama in July, told TPM last week. “On the other side, we have the Ryan budget that came out of the House. … In order to pay for those tax cuts to the very wealthiest people, we have to cut Medicaid, we have to cut education, we have to throw kids out of Head Start, we have to eliminate Pell grants for thousands of kids.”
Van Roekel said the campaigns differ in fundamental ways: One considers education a right; the other, a privilege.
“[Romney] believes that every student ought to have all the education they can afford,” Van Roekel said, alluding to a Romney speech from June in which the candidate said America was great because students “get as much education as they can afford.”
“I just disagree with that, and so does President Obama. We believe that every student should have all the education they deserve,” Van Roekel said.
The president addressed education in his weekly YouTube address over the weekend. Previewing Obama’s remarks Friday, senior administration officials pointed to the education spending Obama included in his last jobs bill, which stalled in the GOP-controlled House. It was another veiled jab at Ryan, who Obama has made the face of the Republican House on the trail.
As Democrats begin their full-court education press, Obama’s attacks in Ohio — which he’ll follow up on Tuesday and Wednesday in Nevada — are echoed in a media push attacking Romney’s comments on paying for college. A new ad called “Get Real, Mitt,” touts the work Obama has done on the education front and pillories Romney’s suggestion that young Americans “borrow money if you have to from your parents” to finance their education.
The DNC, meanwhile, released a brutal video featuring Romney’s suggestion to a college student in Ohio during the primary that he just “shop around” in order to afford college. An online calculator from the campaign compares Obama and Romney’s education plans. “Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved just for a privileged few,” it says, above a list of reforms put in place under President Obama. Above a list of Romney’s education policies, the website reads, “Shop around, get a good price.”