Come Fly With Me: Obama’s Political Travels

New Hampshire Union Leader

It is disturbing to hear the President of the United States claim his whirlwind tour of college campuses promoting legislation to hold down student loan rates was not political. His position is insulting to taxpayers and voters.

Even supporters recognize the trip was to three battleground states considered key to his re-election. The constituency was college students, a group that gave the President critical support in 2008 and who are considered decidedly cooler to his re-election bid.

The issue involves the split between Obama and Republicans over how to pay the tab for continuing the lower interest rates on the subsidized student loans, which are little more than another entitlement program.

Each of those factors is political. They make the trip political. And that means the President’s campaign has an obligation to pick up the tab.

At an estimated $179,000 an hour just for Air Force One, the cost of the President’s campus excursion was enormous.

The legislation to prevent interest rates on millions of student loans from doubling already has an enormous price tag: $5.9 billion — at a time when the federal government continues to run incomprehensible budget deficits. The President has no business adding to the taxpayer burden.

The dispute between Republicans and Democrats (the Obama position) is simple — and indisputably political. The Republicans would cut spending for Obama’s health care overhaul law to pay the tab, while House Democrats want to eliminate oil and gas subsidies and Democrats in the Senate want to hike payroll taxes on owners of some private corporations to finance the subsidy.

The fight ISN’T about the subsidized loans. Both sides agree on keeping the 3.4% interest rate. Their fight is on how to pay for it.

But even that isn’t the most important issue: What obligation do American taxpayers have to fund purely political events staged by and for the President during a re-election campaign? The cost is significant. It adds up fast. It is understandable the President does not want to pay for it, and certainly the Democrats don’t want to pick up the tab — voluntarily.

This President already has demonstrated his disregard for the burden his spending practices are creating for present and future generations. A line needs to be drawn. And demanding payment from his campaign for purely political events aimed at enhancing his re-election chances would be a good place to begin.

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