The Case for Tuition-Free Public Colleges and Universities

Debating the “sheer recklessness” of any real policy has become the mainstay of CNN and the Corporate Dems. Back when Bernie was running in the primary and they were forced to cover him, they spent all of their air time bashing his ideas as pie in the sky, featuring “experts” from conservative think tanks to explain how the policies ruin our system and never work. The idea that drew the most fire other than M4A was making public colleges and universities tuition-free. This is the idea that flew all over most people, especially corporate Dems. Let’s dive into why the plan and walk through the primary misunderstandings and benefits of the policy.

Perhaps it has always been this way, but attending college seems to become more and more political every year. By political I mean that not only are ideas and politics discussed there, it is becoming a difference of parties whether you are pro college or not. Many conservatives(anecdotally) seem to view college as an institution owned by the DNC that is made to brainwash and liberalize their kids. While this is certainly understandable, it is hard to say for sure that it is the college changing kids opinion as opposed to the fact that a child is moving out of their home and away from all of their childhood influences. While this isn’t an objective or rational argument, we need to be aware that the very mention of college can have negative implications to conservative, rural voters. This is where Bernie’s plan can begin to heal the issue by letting all people attend college regardless of income, as opposed to Bidens plan, which is going to further the wedge between us by offering a massive cash give away to college-educated liberals without letting the impoverished into college. Basically, if you are with us, here is some money, but for everyone else, kick rocks. 

Imagine if college attendance matched the real demographics and income distribution of real Americans, it wouldn’t be possible to have strong political leanings. This is where those who didn’t attend college are wrong, it isn’t that colleges are super liberal, they are filled with wealthy elite professors talking to wealthy elite students. It is just by chance that the Corporate Dems have also recently abandoned the working class for college-educated elites. If everyone in the country had the same opportunity to be educated without strangling debt, this would destroy one of the best gatekeepers to prosperity. 

Perhaps the most flak that the plan caught was from an economic perspective. CNN railed constantly from Lincoln Project talking points that the plan was way to expensive to ever happen. They argued that like all of Bernie’s plans it would make the deficit skyrocket. Oh, the deficit, the magical trump card for anything you don’t like, don’t mind spending billions on a fighter plane, but how dare you try to educate us and raise the deficit! Ironically we never hear someone mention the economic impact of a large swath of the country holding massive amounts of debt. As of today there is over $1.5 Trillion in student debt, with 65% of it being held by people under 40. So how does this impact our economy? Well according to one study a 10% rise in student debt decreases homeownership by 1.5%. See this economy is a pie and we all have a slice. Your money is finite, if you have student loans that is monthly payments that will never circulate in the economy. You won’t spend that $100-$500/month on a local restaurant, the stock market, rent, a home, or anything else. On top of the economic damage from not spending, carrying that debt makes it harder to get a loan, to buy a car or home, so no more borrowing to stimulate the economy. This is already a big deal, just imagine in the next 10-15 years as our generation is the bulk of the economy and 66% of us have lingering student loan debt, that does not bode well for us long term compared to countries like Germany where you can get your higher education like a masters tuition-free. 

The other argument that conservatives and corrupt Dems like Mayor Pete make is, why should we pay for some rich kids college? If you know history as a democrat you understand how disgustingly cynically it is for someone like Pete to try and twist this in voters’ minds. You might be familiar with the name Franklin D. Roosevelt or FDR, only the most popular democratic President of all time. See Roosevelt went head to head constantly with people like Pete, always slamming them for cynically seeking self-empowerment. When FDR was leading the charge to create social security, the same argument was used, “Why would we pass a plan that includes rich people?”. See people like Pete aren’t just magically pulling a Bernie and turning on their donors, this is just a ploy to kill the bill and make sure no one can receive the benefit. FDR and his administration knew Social Security would never work if any group was excluded, not to mention the most powerful group. See when you include everyone the argument of fairness is completely removed. If you start giving tuition-free college to everyone making less than $120,000/year, imagine the anger and hostility for everyone hovering right on that line for household income, you would be incentivizing them to stop working once they approached that number. Imagine you have 4 kids, once you earn that $120,000th dollar, on the absolute lowest end you’ve just lost $160,000 that you will pay intuition. See Pete’s argument is a double poison pill, on the front end it makes the policy much harder to pass, but it also implants future troubles that will doom the policy. 

While Biden’s plan to just eliminate all student debt, would be extremely divisive, it would create an economic explosion. Granted it would not be anywhere near the results we would see from UBI or from M4A. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the velocity of money, check out our post about it here. Essentially, the $1.5 Trillion would no longer be going to a small group of predatory lenders, and instead flow back into the economy. However, this would be going to a group that does contain some of the wealthiest most upwardly mobile people in the country. So to some degree, this is a Wildcat liberals way of giving tax cuts to the rich, they are finally helping the minorities who are more likely to carry student debt, and at the same time enriching their donors and constituents. 

This is why you must eliminate tuition and student debt together. Playing favorites with literal money is one of the most divisive political moves possible, at a time when the country has never been more divided. Or we can open the gates of upward mobility, reviving the American Dream. Imagine the spark of hope for so many impoverished students that if they work hard, they can go to college, regardless of money, and make a better life for their family. 

And finally, the main reason we have so much confidence in Bernie’s plan is that we have seen it work before, in America. See the most economically successful period in America was after WWII when every soldier was given free college tuition in the GI bill. We have seen free tuition pay dividends down the road, clearing roadblocks to an individual’s success in this economy.

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