— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on January 19, Monday.
In an environment where U.S. consumer prices overall remain historically low, tuition is one of the fastest growing expenses.By extension, it means the $1.2 trillion collective mountain of education debt is likely to grow bigger.
The bleak numbers speak for themselves: the graduating class of 2014 left the ivory tower with the most debt ever. In 2013, the 42.2 million student borrowers had an average balance of more than $25,000, according to data from the New York Federal Reserve.
On the other hand, Barack Obama enters the final two years of his presidency with a blemish on his legacy that looks impossible to erase: the decline of the middle class he has promised to rescue.
The revival of middle-class jobs has been one of Obama's mantras since he took office in 2009 fighting the worst economic crisis in generations. It was a major theme of his last State of the Union address and is expected to feature in the one scheduled for Tuesday.
Administration officials said on Saturday the president would propose higher capital gains taxes, new fees on large financial firms, and other measures to raise $320 billion for programs and tax breaks aimed at the middle class, along with several measures to help students with their loans, including a free 2-year community college program.
CNBC Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.