With the selection of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday morning, presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney made federal spending — including on higher education — a major flash point of the coming presidential campaign.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chair of the House Budget Committee, is best-known as the architect of a House of Representatives budget plan to slash discretionary spending, including federal research funding, student loans and the Pell Grant program, over the next decade. The latest version of that budget plan, which many Republicans praised and the Obama administration has panned, would try to contain cost of Pell Grants by changing eligibility criteria to exclude more students from the program and limiting the maximum award.
President Obama, who has campaigned in part on his proposals to make college more affordable, has already used Romney’s support for Ryan’s budget to attack the former Massachusetts governor. Romney’s selection of Ryan means that debate is likely to continue — making the future of the Pell Grant, the bedrock financial aid program for poor students, a point of major contention between the two parties in the remaining three months of the campaign.
In contrast, Ryan has spoken (well before being considered for vice president) against more spending on student aid. In a video interview with Reason magazine, he said that Obama's spending on student aid imposed unreasonable costs on the public, and represented "new unfunded liabilities."
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