Obama: Tax cuts for rich hurt schools

WASHINGTON -- President Obama criticized congressional Republicans on Tuesday for advocating tax cuts for the wealthy, saying that approach "doesn't make sense" and would undermine federal spending on education.

Obama told business leaders and educators at the first White House Summit on Community Colleges that though he shares Republican anxiety over the national debt, America could not "fund tax cuts for those who don't need it by slashing education for those who do."

In addition to tax cuts, House Republicans have proposed cutting $100 billion, about 20 percent of total discretionary spending, from the federal budget. Republicans did not specify whether they would cut education in their campaign-season "Pledge to America," issued Sept. 23.

At the summit, an event highlighting one of higher education's fastest-growing sectors, Obama said the GOP plan "just doesn't make sense -- not for students, not for our economy."

Reducing federal community college funding, Obama said, would represent "a huge waste of potential."

Jill Biden, a community college instructor and event host who is the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, underscored the president's point, saying, "Community colleges are uniquely American: places where anyone who walks through the door is one step closer to realizing the American Dream."

Obama added that 8 in 10 new jobs over the next decade will require some postsecondary education, making a well-educated work force essential.

"We are in a fight for the future -- a fight that depends on education," Obama said.