In the second debate of the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday sparred on education reform and hydraulic fracturing — two issues important both to Cornellians and to Ithacans.
“We have to make sure that we make it easier for kids to afford college and also make sure that when they get out of college, there’s a job,” Romney said, responding to a question from a Hofstra University student worried about his future job prospects.
“I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program so that people are able to afford school,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
Obama, meanwhile, touted the actions his administration has taken to make college more affordable.
“We’ve got to make sure that young people like yourself are able to afford a college education,” he said. “We’ve expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country. We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program and we said, let’s just cut out the middleman. Let’s give the money directly to students. And as a consequence, we’ve seen millions of young people be able to afford college.”
Both candidates also repeated their support for hydraulic fracturing — a controversial practice where chemicals and water are injected into the ground at high velocity to extract natural gas. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is currently under pressure to decide whether “fracking,” as it is commonly called, should be banned in the state because of potential health risks.
“It a priority for us to go after natural gas,” Obama said. “We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and a hundred years’ worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas. And we can do it in an environmentally sound way.”
Romney, however, said the president’s actions have not matched his rhetoric, claiming that Obama has prevented companies from drilling for natural gas on federal lands.
“What we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas,” Romney said. This has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal ... I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas.”