BINGHAMTON — President Barack Obama, spending an hour of his stop at the Binghamton University campus Friday taking questions from students and faculty members, called for reduced reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source, and rebuked congressional Republicans for “manufacturing” a crisis over the federal government’s budget deficit.
During a town-hall style meeting, the second-term president showed that even though his last election is behind him, he is willing to punch back at his GOP critics.
He criticized Republican recommendations to slice spending for science and education programs, contending such cuts would harm the nation over the long term.
“That’s like eating your corn seed, you know?” Obama said. “It’s like being penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
Before taking questions from the audience, Obama gave a prepared speech focusing on his vision to make college education more affordable for families, repeating many of the points he had underscored one day earlier at the University at Buffalo.
It was during the question-and-answer session when Obama loosened up, cracking a joke when he took a question from one woman who was clad in an Obama T-shirt.
“If you want to get called on, wear the president’s face on a shirt,” he said to a burst of laughter.
With his motorcade greeted on campus roads by demonstrators on both sides of the hydrofracking debate — there were far more anti-frackers in the crowd — Obama took a question inside the hall about funding for the “green economy.”
The president called for stronger energy-conservation measures, described natural gas as a “finite resource,” even as he noted domestic gas and oil production has helped make the nation less dependent on foreign sources of fuel.
“We know that if we design our schools, homes, hospitals more efficiently, that as a country we could cut our power usage by 20, 25, 30 percent with existing technologies and we can put a bunch of folks to work,” he said.