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Let Them Skip College!

Reported by Ellen - January 31, 2010 -

Co-authored by Brian

Yesterday (1/20/10), Forbes on Fox, the same crew that argued that poor people would be better off with more corporate tax cuts instead of food stamps, that there’s no need for health care reform because anyone can go to an emergency room and purchase prescriptions at Wal-Mart for $4.00, now presented President Obama’s proposal for student loan ceilings and debt forgiveness as some kind of welfare for deadbeats. With video.

As he laid it out in his State of the Union address last week, President Obama’s plan limits student loan payments to 10% of one’s income and forgives debt after 20 years or 10 years to students who spend 10 years in public service careers. The president said he wants to give a break for the middle class and make an investment in the skills and education of Americans. But rather than have a truly fair and balanced debate about merits of the proposal, Fox News presented the initiative with a panel overweighted with critics and a blaring banner on the screen “asking,” “OBAMA’S STUDENT LOAN PLAN, IS IT REALLY COLLEGE WELFARE?”

Panelist Neil Weinberg said, "This is wrong on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start… Why doesn't he call it what it is, the ‘Deadbeat Student and Socialization of Higher Education Program.’ …What it says is you take out a loan, and then, guess what? You don't have to pay it back… It's going to encourage people to go to college when they can't afford it, and they have no intention of paying for it. It's going to increase costs because there will be more students wanting to go. It's just wrong."

Quentin Hardy, one of two progressives on the six-person panel said, "This isn’t about underwriting beer bashes. This is about an investment in the future of the American economy. If you educate better, they will be able to earn more, they will have more flexibility in their jobs… I think helping people get more education is not just interesting and important, it is essential for the future of the world economy. We want to be players there."

Mike Ozanian was another conservative voice. "Less than half the people that get government-subsidized education ever end up graduating. This program, let’s put it in baseball terms. It’s a strikeout. Strike one, it’s a government-mandated transfer of wealth. Strike two, it forces college costs up because you get increase in demand, without an increase in supply. And strike three is you're going to get more debt."

Host David Asman announced that the program would be expensive, then reported the results of a poll that found that “most want to either cut or freeze spending." In case viewers didn't get the message, a large graphic on the screen read, “COLLEGE WELFARE? The new student loan plan could cost taxpayers up to $1 billion over five years.”

Elizabeth MacDonald complained that the program would “underwrite” colleges that are “behaving like hotel barons” with “fatcat behavior.” She added, “You don’t have to buy an expensive college degree to think you can get a better education.”

David Asman didn’t even make a pretense of neutrality. "What about the morality of this plan? …We don't want to be a deadbeat society. We don't want to reward people who don't pay off their debts."

Steve Forbes was the fifth person on the panel to criticize the program. He acknowledged that, “We do need people to get higher education. But… the more the government aid there is, the higher the tuitions go and the more the administrative costs of colleges and universities go.”

“What kind of value does this present to society?” Asman asked, his voice full of skepticism.

Mike Maiello was the other progressive. "Here's a value. You come out of college, you come out of law school. And you want to practice criminal defense or public interest law, right? But no, you can't because your payments are too high. You’ve got to go and practice at corporate law or something that’s more lucrative instead. "

Asman said, "If people cut back on things, they can pay off their debts."

Sure they can. Just let them eat cake.