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Last updated: August 23. 2013 6:53PM - 3781 Views
By - rdupuis@civitasmedia.com



A police cadet from Lackawanna College leads the Pledge of Allegiance to begin a program at which President Barack Obama will address the crowd at about 5 p.m. today. (Roger DuPuis | The Times Leader)
A police cadet from Lackawanna College leads the Pledge of Allegiance to begin a program at which President Barack Obama will address the crowd at about 5 p.m. today. (Roger DuPuis | The Times Leader)
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SCRANTON — President Barack Obama focused on the topic of an affordable college education for the middle class in his speech today at Lackawanna College.


The President called a good education “one of the cornerstones” of what it means to be middle class in America during the approximately half-hour speech — one of several he made on his bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania.


“We can’t just stand pat” as the Chinese and Indians pump more money into higher education, the President said.


“Colleges have never been more expensive, but it’s never been more necessary,” Obama says. He called cuts to education in Pennsylvania “brutal.”


The average student now borrows and graduates owing more than $26,000, Obama said. Many owe $100,000 or more in student loan debt.


He praised Lackawanna College for providing “a first-class education that doesn’t cost a fortune.”


Obama noted that “This country gave my grandfather chance to go to school free on the GI bill after World War II.”


The President, on the other hand, says he didn’t pay off his student loans until in his 40s, right before being elected to the U.S. Senate.


Obama called higher education a necessity, not a luxury. He hinted at a tough ride for reforms in Congress, given the reception granted Obamacare. And he took shots at Republicans who are opposed to Obamacare, noting it was a GOP governor in Massachusetts who came up with it — Mitt Romney. And he blasted the GOP for “threatening to shut down the government” over healthcare reform.


Getting back to education, the President said “We shouldn’t be subsidizing schools that aren’t getting good results for the young people that attend them.”


And, more colleges should be encouraged to innovate, such as providing online education, he said.


“I want to see schools and states get in the game, try new things,” Obama said. He also touted a “pay as you earn” premise.


“Even if we control costs, some of you will still have debt after you graduate,” the President said.


Obama said 2.5 million students have been helped by the “Pay As You Earn” program. He will launch a campaign to help borrowers learn more.


A protester of natural gas fracking, the method natural gas drilling companies use to extract gas from the shale deep below the earth’s surface that has been criticized for potentially harming water supplies, screamed at Obama during his speech, but cheers from the crowd to Obama’s speech drowned out the protester.


In his 32-minute speech, the president made no reference to fracking.


Read the complete story in The Times Leader on Saturday.


— — — — —


Posted at 4:54 p.m.


SCRANTON — President Barack Obama has taken the stage at Lackawanna College to thunderous applause.


The President gave shout-outs to Vice President and Scranton native Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, Lackawanna College students and the college’s Falcons football team.


He praised Lackawanna College for providing “a first-class education that doesn’t cost a fortune.”


— — — — —


Posted at 4:52 p.m.


SCRANTON — Vice President Joe Biden is speaking to the crowd at Lackawanna College in Scranton.


The Scranton native said his son, Beau, is doing well following a recent evaluation at a cancer center.


Biden is warming up the crowd for President Barack Obama, who is expected to speak soon.


Check back at timesleader.com often for updates on the President’s visit and read the complete story in The Times Leader on Saturday.


— — — — —


Posted 4:35 p.m.


Times Leader Staff Writers Andrew Seder and Roger Dupuis report that the White House press pool — reporters who travel with President Barack Obama — arrived at Lackawanna College in Scranton for the President’s visit and speech there today.


Vice President Joe Biden, a Scranton native, also is scheduled to speak.


A police cadet from the college has led the Pledge of Allegiance.


 
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