Today, President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 into law. He called it, as well as last week's health care reform package, "two major victories in one week that will improve the lives of people for generations to come... We mark an important milestone on the road to health insurance reform and higher education reform. But more broadly, this day affirms our ability to overcome the challenges of our politics and meet the challenges of our time.”
What's the HCER Act? According to the Washington Post, it "overhauls higher education financing, doubling funding for Pell grants, allowing students to borrow directly from the government and easing payment structures once they graduate. Loan repayments will be capped at 10 percent of a graduate's salary, down from the current 15 percent cap, starting in 2014." The president says it will save $68 billion that would have otherwise been directed to "middle men"—the private banks that managed the loans.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized the bill, "Today the president will sign not one, but two job-killing government takeovers that are already hurting our economy," (the Caucus suggests it's not totally a job killer). Earlier today, the Today Show aired an interview with Obama, where he address the Republican rancor:
What’s interesting is that if you actually break down the specifics of the bill, you will see that this, historically, has had a lot of Republican support. I think what happened is that they made a calculation, which if you are thinking in terms of short-term politics, you can see the argument. Their attitude is, look, if we stop this bill and we stop this president here, then that will give us a lot of political benefit in November. What I’ve tried to say throughout is, I will continue to reach out to Republicans. I will continue to incorporate their ideas even when they don’t vote for the ideas that I’ve presented. But what I’m not going to be dissuaded from is us going ahead taking on these big challenges that are critical in terms of America’s long-term economic health.
Obama signed the bill at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Vice President Joe Biden's wife Jill teaches there and she introduced Obama before his speech, leading him to say, "Thank you, Dr. Biden, for that outstanding introduction—and for putting up with Joe."