Political Animal


July 12, 2011 11:00 AM Obama rejects GOP call to ‘screw students’

By Steve Benen

Now that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is effectively negotiating on behalf of all Republican lawmakers, he’s taking the lead in recommending specific cuts during talks at the White House.

The House majority leader, who did most of the talking for the Republican side, said those taking out student loans should start paying interest right away, rather than being able to defer payments until after graduation. It is a big-ticket item that would save $40 billion over 10 years.

At one point, sources say, President Obama pushed back against the mounting menu of spending cuts while the tax column on the negotiating sheets remained blank. He asked the Republican leaders how they expected him to take their proposals seriously.

“I’m not going to do that,” Obama said. “I’m not going to take money from old people and screw students,” not without some compromise on the tax-increase side.

Some Republican senators have pushed to have these debt-reduction talks “in the light of day,” instead of behind closed doors, so the public can see what both parties are willing to fight for. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) said of the Democratic approach, “What they’re advocating for, I don’t think would be popular.”

Democrats should be so lucky as to have the country watch this process unfold and see exactly which priorities the parties are willing to fight for.

In this case, Zaid Jilani explained, “Cantor’s proposal comes at a time when American students are already overwhelmed by student loan debt. In 2008, the average debt that a college student graduated with was a whopping $23,000. American students continue to pay more than most of their developed world neighbors for a college education, and Cantor apparently wants to make it even more difficult for them while not touching the richest Americans.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Perspecticus on July 12, 2011 11:03 AM:

    And Hatch is still advocating increased taxes on the poor and lower middle class.


    Boy, the handicapped get all the good parking and the poor get to keep all that money they... um... "have".

  • Jamie on July 12, 2011 11:07 AM:

    Why doesn't anyone tell Boehner that 60-70% of the population would be OK with a tax hike for the upper incomes?

  • Brenna on July 12, 2011 11:08 AM:

    Dave Weigel reported Obama got in Cantor's face about shared sacrifice. This is where Peggy Noonan's assessment of Obama being a "cold fish" will serve dems well.

    Cantor's going to muck the deal up. Little twerp deserves it too.

  • jdog on July 12, 2011 11:08 AM:

    This is sort of surreal. The normal legislative process includes hearings, markups, and debates, in subcommittee, committee,and on the floor. These allow for mobilization, lobbying, and press and interest group observation. The changes to programs being discussed are not small tweaks but rather substantial. Yet the discussions are, as you note, all out of sight.

    This is amazing.

  • DJ on July 12, 2011 11:10 AM:

    So now Cantor (as opposed to the Speaker), a complete nitwit, negotiates for the Republicans? Could this be a result of the President's so-called "11th Dimensional chess"?

  • c u n d gulag on July 12, 2011 11:13 AM:

    I have the poster child for this.

    The youong man who caught Derek Jeters 3,000th hit, a Home Run, gave the ball to Jeter without asking for the thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even one millions the ball might have brought in the 'open market.'


    Meanwhile, that kid owes over $100,000 (some say almost $200,000) on his student loans, and works at a Verizon story for about $22,000 a year.

    And he asked fo $0.00!!!!!!!!

    Let's ask this kid how he would feel if Republicans want to start charging interest right away? How much more would he owe then?
    Probably enough to want to put that ball on e-Bay.

    Cantor is a heartless putz, and his buddy Ryan is a corrupt sociopathic prick.
    And yes, I do know what both words mean.

    Also, too,

  • DAY on July 12, 2011 11:16 AM:

    Earlier today Steve wrote that the GOP raised the debt ceiling a billion times during the Reagan-Bush Era. (That 'billion' was not intended to be a "fact")

    So, when is Obama goings to say- to their faces- "You always voted to raise the ceiling, without a murmur of decent. What is different today? Is it because I am black?"

    A few minutes ago, Boner said the debt ceiling is "Obama's problem." That's when I fell off my chair- thank LBJ for medicare!

  • DRF on July 12, 2011 11:22 AM:

    Besides being a heartless putz (thanks cund gulag) Cantor isn't too bright. The reason repayment of student loans is deferred until graduation is that they are unable to repay until then. While in school, they are not earning money (or if earning, the spare cash goes to help pay for school). Even asking that they pay interest alone is likely to be a real hardship for most studen loan borrowers and their families. This isn't likely to generate any meaningful increase in government revenue; what it's likely to do is deter students from taking needed loans and therefore from going to school.

    It's hard to imagine a less productive or more destructive suggestion.

  • MLJohnston on July 12, 2011 11:23 AM:

    Cantor, Boehner, McConnell answer to the fascist loving Billionaires. The Republican party has NO interest in propelling our Democracy, economy and lives forward. Fascism is the goal. Mcconnell expresses his racist atitude well when he says Obama will be a one term president. Mc Connell is also leading the Republicans to attain the fascist rule that includeds decimating the US Constitution and provide authoritarian rule without accountability.No Education, No medical coverage. No jobs. No unemployment benefits. Intrusive rule to determine if you can have sex this is what Republicans are standing for. This is what the media should be discussing. Not some stupid debt ceiling that increased revenues would lower.

  • steve duncan on July 12, 2011 11:27 AM:

    I don't know where Obama is taking this. I mean, if you can't screw students, old people, the sick and disabled, recent immigrants, the poor, widows, children & pensioners who can you screw?

  • Old Uncle Dave on July 12, 2011 11:34 AM:

    It is military spending that's bankrupting this once great nation, and neither Dims nor Repigs will do a damn thing about it. A pox on them both!

  • square1 on July 12, 2011 11:34 AM:

    It is all well and good to -- correctly -- point out that screwing students is a terrible, terrible idea.

    But one wonders where Benen thinks the spending cuts will come from in Obama's $4T/10-year proposal.

    Does Benen think that Democrats can identify $2-4T in spending cuts, with or without tax increases, that won't fuck students and old people?

    And what about the fact that students will still be graduating into a job-depleted market thanks to Barack "Hoover" Obama's anti-deficit crusade?

  • bigtuna on July 12, 2011 11:35 AM:

    Jeebus. What a cluster F.

    Reducing the long-term deficit is a multifaceting problem, that can, in fact, be solved. Like many problems that look insurmountable, cutting the mountain into smaller wedges makes it much more do-able.

    1. reduce defense spending. Say, 100 bn over 5-10 yrs. Last year the WaPo writers did a great story on the securitiy complex - billions of dollars going out, and the def. sec. didn't even know all of what he was spending money on.

    2. "loopholes", etc. See NYTimes today for ONE exa: commodity trades within one year are taxed at 23%, whereas ordinary trades are 35%. No reasons. How many other special, cutsie deals are there? Estimate - 100 bn / yr starting 2013.

    3. Begin to revise farm subidies. Cut ethanol subs. to zero asap. REvise all others. 100 bn/yr

    4. Let the so called bush era tax cuts expire for incomes over 250k. Ie, do nothing, since the default is set that way. 70-100 bn/yr

    5. Tax expenditures: sacred cows, I know. How about favorable tax benefits for pensions? Tax exemptions for employer-based health insurance?

    6. Delete variosu oicl, coal, and natural gas tax benefits. i work in this field. We are big boys and girls. Set us free. 25 bn/yr

    7. Various reductions in spending .... I dunno - 50 -100 bn / yr ...

    anyway, you get the picture. Why can't one dem senator articulate a sensible center /left proposal, which to many many people, will see very reasonable, to help highlight what a doofus Cantor is??

    what happened to the head of the democratic party? WHere is Howard Dean?

  • Severian on July 12, 2011 11:35 AM:

    Fox News headline:


  • CDW on July 12, 2011 11:55 AM:

    not without some compromise on the tax-increase side.

    The end of kurtz's quote doesn't have quotation marks. Did obama say this or is this editorializing on kurts's part? The addition to obama's words make him sound like he would screw students and senior if he got revenue increases. This wouldn't surprise me, but it wouldn't surprise me either if kurtz included it to stir up some trouble.

    Anyone know which it is?

  • Michael on July 12, 2011 12:14 PM:

    Square, you are beyond irrational, the president has masterfully screwed and turned republican talking points on their head, where they cannot claim the lie they do , so are now being reduced to the strange statements coming out of their mouths presently.

    You, being the hater you are , are see nothing but this big mean ol black man trying to become republican.

  • j on July 12, 2011 12:14 PM:

    I do not like the feeling of hate, but whenever I see Cantor's evil grin I hate, hate and hate some more, this weasel that runs away when he is in the Biden debt reduction negotiations keeps coming back like a big bully to call the shots - he is nothing but a sniveling coward when push comes to shove.

  • steve duncan on July 12, 2011 12:17 PM:

    square1 on July 12, 2011 11:34 AM:

    And what about the fact that students will still be graduating into a job-depleted market thanks to Barack "Hoover" Obama's anti-deficit crusade?
    Thank God we have Obama to advocate cutting the deficit! I've searched high and low, scoured the internet, Googled, read all the latest newspapers and magazines, yet can find nary one Republican in or out of office willing to go on record wanting to vigorously whittle down the federal deficit.

  • bdop4 on July 12, 2011 12:39 PM:

    Im not going to do that, Obama said. Im not going to take money from old people and screw students, not without some compromise on the tax-increase side.

    But he would do it, if the price is right. That should make our college students and recent graduates get the "warm and fuzzies." All without ANY plan to get them jobs. And who usually ends up having to make the payments while they are looking for a job? You guessed it. The PARENTS. Man, I'm just feeling so much love here!

  • bdop4 on July 12, 2011 12:52 PM:

    For all those lauding Obama's 11-dimensional chess playing, there's one thing to consider: it only works if it succeeds in turning public opinion against the GOP.

    Unfortunately, the complexity of Obama's brilliant strategy has gone over the heads of the MSM and most voters. It took Lawrence O'Donnell 15 minutes to explain it, and yet large numbers of incurious, uninformed voters are supposed to "get it."

    And the clincher is this: Unless Obama succeeds in working repubs back to a clean bill (what O'Donnell is contending), his "success" will be offering concessions ON THEIR TERMS which do nothing to fix the problem at hand. Again, how do spending cuts create jobs?

    I really hope Obama can work them back down to nothing, cuz the three options we've been given to date really suck.

  • zandru on July 12, 2011 1:33 PM:

    I imagine that all "serious" analysis of Mr. Obama's remarks will focus on the titillating, fainting-couch horror of him using the word "scr***" (BLEEEEEP!)

    "Wolf-Rayet entalh" ?!? No kidding?

  • msmolly on July 12, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Obama rejects GOP call to screw students

    Yeah, he'd much rather screw seniors.

  • MsJoanne on July 12, 2011 2:06 PM:


    I've said it before: fuck every one of these sick cocksucking, lying whore assholes.

  • shirley on July 12, 2011 3:47 PM:

    druge report obama threatens to hold up ss ck. see this is the prob with this whand dems. they should have been 2 steps ahead of rethugs and had their people all over the media with-thru bad faith or non negotions, rethugs are threatening to hold up seniors cks. one thing i say about the rethugs, they are masters at messaging, and win whether they are in the majority or the minority. not one jobs bill from rethug congress, but a bunch of nonsensse abortion laws. obama fall these people out

  • Devon Noll on July 12, 2011 6:47 PM:

    It is not just students who will get screwed if the GOP/Tea Party has its way. If the debt ceiling is not raised so will the elderly, the disabled, surviving children, military personnel, their families and survivors, military pensioners, children on lunch programs or food stamps, and the list of Americans who will suffer while these millionaire babies like Cantor draw full salary and benefits. When are Americans going to get smart enough to start protesting through confrontations at Congressional offices in home districts and DC, faxing and e-mailing every member of Congress and the White House, and when are people who will be most harmed going to forced to live on our streets because the rest of us have abandoned them by our inaction? It is up to us to decide - but at this point, I would willingly run for President and talk truth and common sense to the public rather than have to sit by and watch as my economic future is flushed down the toilet by millionaires and fools more interested in sound bites than in the public good!

  • Fred on July 12, 2011 8:41 PM:

    Eric Cantor is such a jackass that if he kept his mouth closed, he could pass for the Democrat mascot

  • cb on July 13, 2011 9:42 PM:

    Centrists need cartoonists, spokespeople, writers who
    can vividly and memorably communicate the insanely evil goals of tea party demagogues and timid Republican syncophants who want to wipe out what's left of the middle class, further enrich tax dodging overpaid corporate execs and trust fund multi-millionaires, and screw students, seniors and ordinary hard working Americans.
    Boehner, for God's sake LEAD and reap the rewards or
    suffer the consequences as the case may be. At worst
    you'll win a lot of respect either way.