Clinton attacks GOP plans in 'back-to-school' blitz

September 12, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Launching a week of events designed to highlight the differences between the administration and the Republicans on education spending, President Clinton told several thousand students at Southern Illinois University here that the GOP majority wanted to rob them of their futures.

Mr. Clinton cited proposed reductions in the rate of spending on student loans, grants and work-study programs as evidence that the Republican majority in Congress was "short-cutting the future" in its efforts to balance the budget.

"Do not be fooled by the smoke screen of balancing the budget," Mr. Clinton told the students at an outdoor rally. "We don't have to cut education to balance the budget. We don't have to and we shouldn't."

He said that the Republican budget would cut $36 billion over seven years from spending on education and training, eliminate the Americorps volunteer program and raise the cost of student loans.

Republicans immediately responded, branding Mr. Clinton's assertions "a big lie" and "cheap politics" designed to scare students.

Mr. Clinton added little substantively new yesterday to previous attacks on Republican budget priorities, most recently a week ago.

Concurrently, 47 top administration officials left Washington for political appearances around the country this week to try to bolster Mr. Clinton's education message in a blitz dubbed "back-to-school week."

In the SIU appearance and in an earlier round table with a dozen students, Mr. Clinton laid particular stress on what he considers his most important educational innovation -- the 1993 creation of a direct student loan program, which bypasses commercial banks and other middlemen to speed disbursement of funds.

Mr. Clinton claimed that the program had lowered interest rates, cut red tape and saved taxpayers $6.8 million in administrative costs.

Republicans are trying to cap the direct loan program.

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