Jul 8, 2015 11:30 PM
Steinhauser: O'Malley tells NH1 college affordability 'a huge issue'; pushes back against Bush comments
NH1 News Political Unit
MANCHESTER – Martin O’Malley says paying for college is “a huge issue and every family’s going through this.”
The former two-term Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate made his comments in a one-on-one interview with NH1 New shortly after announcing his proposals on college affordability at a roundtable discussion at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
O’Malley highlighted two main goals, the first the ”need to set the goal as a nation of making debt-free college and a universal option for ever family that should choose it.”
“Goal number two is I would like to see us increase our completion rate by 25% over the next ten years,” O’Malley added.
NH1 News was the first to report word of O’Malley’s proposals in a report on NH1.com at 12:01am Wednesday.
Wednesday afternoon O’Malley told NH1 News that the issue really hits home for him.
“For my own personal story, my dad went to college on the GI bill, but for my own children, my wife and I have had to take out a lot of student loans just for them to do the right thing. And hey, they graduated in four years. But we’ll be paying off those loans for years and years. So college affordability is not only important for thousands and thousands of families, it’s important for our whole economy,” O’Malley said.
As for his plan, O’Malley said that “we have to incentivize universities and states to focus not on how long they can keep kids in seats and how much tuition they can charge them over a longer period of time, but how quickly can we help people achieve their degree.”
Asked how he would pay for his proposals, O’Malley said “we pay for it by making it a priority. There are loopholes we offer to hedge fund managers that make no sense and that do nothing to help our national interest. We could raise the tax on investment earnings.”
O’Malley, trailing far behind in the polls right now to Democratic nomination rivals Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, touted that “I am the only candidate in this race in either party that actually made college more affordable in his state as an executive.”
Around the same time that O’Malley was spelling out his plan in Goffstown, Jeb Bush was campaigning at a bakery and eatery in Dover. Asked by NH1 News what he thought of the idea of debt-free college, Bush said “just wipe the 1.2 trillion dollars of debt without reform of our higher education system, more free stuff. I think the focus ought to be on how we reform higher education so that full time students can get a four year degree in four years and they’ll be able to access a job because we’ll have a higher growth economy than the one that he’s probably proposing.”
The Democratic National Committee later criticized Bush over the “more free stuff’ comments. And O’Malley himself put out a statement, saying "Jeb Bush is wrong. Debt-free college isn't about ‘free stuff;’ it's about providing opportunity to every American.”