President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney are slugging it out now about college costs. The presidential candidates have centered on a new policy topic: college affordability.

Obama, campaigning in Nevada, chastised Romney for his weak policy plans with regard to college costs. According to an article by Mark Landler in the New York Times;

Campaigning here and in Ohio, Mr. Obama presented himself as the lucky product of affordable education and his opponent as the enemy of it. Mr. Romney, he said, would cut student loans and grants, and do nothing to curb the tuition increases that threaten to put higher education out of reach of millions of middle-class Americans.

The president said his policies, from a $10,000 tuition tax credit to a doubling of Pell grant scholarships, had helped an additional three million students afford college. Mr. Romney’s proposals, he said, would cut investments in education, leaving one million students without scholarships and reducing financial aid to nearly 10 million.

Romney, who in March said that he planned to provide no more federal money for college students and that people should “shop around” in order to make college cheaper, countered that Obama’s higher education policies weren’t helping much either.

While he reiterated that he planned to offer no help to debt-soaked college graduates, and he planned to reduce the amount of federal money now available for education, he also, through a spokesman, pointed out something interesting:

“Under President Obama, the costs of college have skyrocketed — making it more difficult for students to attend college — and his economic policies have made it harder for graduates to get jobs,” said Amanda Henneberg, Romney campaign spokesperson.

His economic policies haven’t made it harder for college graduates to get jobs. The unemployment rate, while high, is about the same as it was when he took office.

The problem with Obama’s particular line of argument with regard to college costs is that he has actually been president since 2009, and tuition has continued to escalate. He has done nothing to fix this problem (granted, tuition has also increased until all prior presidents).

It’s true that Mitt Romney’s policies will almost certainly do nothing to address college tuition, indeed his policies with regard to Pell Grants will certainly push more low-income Americans out of college, but come on. No one’s doing much to fix this problem. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer