In a speech today, President Obama misquoted tea-party congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), omitting certain words of a comment she made to give a very different impression of what she had said.
Obama did not name Foxx, referring to her as “one Republican congresswoman.”
“She said she had ‘very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that,’” Obama told the students at UNC Chapel Hill. “I’m just quoting here, I’m just quoting.”
“She said students who rack up student loan debt are just ‘sitting on their butts having opportunity dumped in your lap,” he added. “I’m reading it here. So I didn’t make this up.”
But the full Foxx quote is very different.
“I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that,” Foxx said last week, per the Huffington Post. (Emphasis mine.)
According to a recent study by the New York Fed, 94 percent of student-loan debtors owe $75,000 or less. (Forty-three percent owe $10,000 or less.) So, Foxx was talking about a very small percentage — 6 percent! — of the student-loan debtor population, not all students.
But by omitting that crucial phrase — and Obama did not acknowledge he had omitted any of the quote — the president made Foxx appear to to be lambasting all students who graduate with debt, not the small percentage who graduate with $80,000 or more.