“Two years of college will become as free and universal as high school is today.” – Barack Obama
What is free? According to Google, “free” is defined as “being without cost.” But what is without cost? Everything costs something. There’s a reason that the phrase “there’s no free lunch” is part of our general vernacular, and that’s because it’s true. Nothing is free. Some things are free for somepeople, but those allegedly free things are not being provided out of thin air, they are being financed by something else, or someone else.
On Friday, Obama announced that he wants to make community college free for all Americans. According to Fox News:
“The president formally announced the $60 billion plan during a speech in Tennessee, after initially unveiling it in a video posted on Facebook. Describing a quality education as a ‘right’ for those willing to work for it, Obama called on Congress to support his ‘ambitious’ program to bring the cost of community college ‘down to zero‘…”
During the course of his speech, the president also said that “a college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class.”
There are multiple problems with Obama’s initiative, not the least of which is the cost. The White House estimates that the program will cost $60 billion over the next ten years, but as we’ve been shown time and time again, estimates relating to the costs of government programs are rarely accurate. Back in 2009, Obama claimed during a pitch that Obamacare would cost about $900 million over the course of its first ten years. This was a parlor trick, however. According to the Washington Examiner:
“It’s true that at the time of passage, the CBO said the gross cost of the law’s provisions to expand insurance coverage would be $940 billion over a decade. But as many critics of the health care law pointed out at the time, this number was deceptive because it estimated spending from 2010 through 2019 even though the program’s major spending provisions weren’t scheduled to go into effect until 2014. Effectively, the original estimate measured the cost of six years of Obamacare instead of 10. Now, as implementation approaches, CBO has released projections for the 2014 to 2023 budget window — the first actual decade of Obamacare — and the gross cost projection is $1.8 trillion.”
My guess is that the alleged $60 billion price tag is an extremely low estimate. Next on the list of what’s wrong with this initiative is Obama’s claim that he wants community college to be “as free and universal as high school is today.” But is high school free? Public high school is paid for by the American tax payer, so it is certainly not free. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
“States are one of the main funders of the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools, which some 50 million students — nine out of ten enrolled school-age children — attend. One-fourth of state spending on average, or about $270 billion, goes toward public education.”
$270 billion doesn’t come from the trees (though if it did, I’m sure Obama would have the EPA protect it), it comes from taxes. That money represents approximately 25% of state spending. Public school isn’t free. Given that, college would not be free either. That $60 billion (likely much, much higher) would be sucked out of the veins of the already overburdened taxpayers.
Then there’s the issue brought up by Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation:
“The administration’s proposal is another step toward the White House’s goal of a ‘cradle-to-career’ education system, starting with free preschool and now free community college…Once again, the administration is pursuing initiatives to subsidize rising costs, instead of working with Congress on policies that actually would address the driver of college cost increases: the open spigot of federal student aid.”
Burke also brings up the fact that many students entering college from public high schools have to be re-educated, taking remedial English, math, and science to catch up. The elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools that we already fund with our tax dollars are failing to properly educate our children, and now Obama wants us to subsidize their college education? I’m sorry, but no. Enough of our money already goes to partially subsidize poorly educated college students. Must we pay for it all?
Lastly, as Burke mentioned, this is simply one more step in a nanny-state initiative, in which the government will subsidize everything in our lives that it deems “necessary.” Obama claims that a college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class–funny, I though hard work, and general aptitude would rank up there above a degree–but if that’s the case, what else is to be paid for by the taxpayer? What else is to be made “free?”
For the college students who can’t get to class because they don’t have a car, we should give them a car. It’s necessary! What about housing? Students shouldn’t be homeless. Let’s pay their rent. It’s necessary! Food? Obviously. It’s necessary that they be healthy!
Where will the subsidies end? Where will the line be drawn? What is a right, and what is not? And once college is over, why not continue to subsidize? If subsidizing college is an investment in our national future (as the left claims), I could write a volume containing arguments for other subsidies that could also be considered an investment.
While we’re on the subject of subsidizing education, the average GPA a student would have to maintain in order to receive federal funding for community college under Obama’s plan is a 2.5—a 2.5 is a C+/B- average. If you want to foster your best, and brightest, a 2.5 GPA isn’t going to cut it. If we’re paying for students to attend college, shouldn’t we expect something better than a C+ in remedial English?
This is utter nonsense, and simply an excuse to continue the surreptitious march toward a nanny-nation.