Senate Republicans have voiced adamant opposition to that payroll tax proposal, saying it would make it harder for those firms to hire workers. But their leaders said they backed the goal of freezing interest rates for a year and accused Obama of trying to turn an easily resolvable issue into a political cudgel.
"Let's be honest," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor. "The only reason Democrats have proposed this particular solution to the problem is to get Republicans to oppose it, to make us cast a vote they think will make us look bad to the voters they need to win the next election."
McConnell said the two sides' differences could be resolved if Obama would negotiate and "choose results over rallies."
House Democrats also introduced a bill keeping the interest rates from rising for a year and paid for by eliminating subsidies to large oil and gas companies.
Underscoring the free-swinging politics in play, Obama said before Boehner's remarks that House Republicans were indicating that they would only extend the rate by cutting other student aid, a path the GOP did not follow.
Without mentioning him by name, Obama also took a swipe at Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., a GOP Senate candidate who said the government shouldn't be involved in the student loan market and, Obama said, compared it to a "stage 3 cancer of socialism." Obama said, "I don't know where to start. What do you mean? What are you talking about?"
Akin used the cancer reference at an April 21 forum to describe the federal government's involvement in areas he said should be left alone. He also criticized Democrats for eliminating private student loans and having that lending taken over by the government.
Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.
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