It’s one thing for conservative pundits to question the Obama Administration’s latest higher education subsidy. It’s quite another for a writer in The Atlantic to start asking inconvenient questions.
“President Obama wants to provide free tuition at community colleges, a proposal that could benefit as many as 9 million students, according to a White House outline of the plan released Thursday,” Fawn Johnson wrote on the Atlantic blog. “But there’s one big caveat in the proposal: There isn’t plan to fund it, other than to ask Congress for the money.”
“Without that crucial piece of the program, which would be available to students as long as they maintain a 2.5 GPA, the idea is little more than a pipe dream. It resembles Obama’s proposal in 2013 for a universal pre-k program for 4-year-olds. To provide free public pre-k for low-income families alone would cost $75 billion over 10 years, according to some analyses. Early-education lobbyists are struggling to figure out how to persuade lawmakers to pony up for that small part of a larger pre-k proposal. (A cigarette tax is among the items they are bandying about.)”
Although the Obama Administration has, contrary to its claims, shown itself able to work with the Republican leadership in Congress, much to the consternation of the latter’s base voters, Republican governors are another story. And the way the Obama plan is designed, they would come into play.
“Even if this latest White House proposal were to gain approval from the Republican-controlled Congress (an unlikely scenario), states would still need to cooperate with the administration,” Johnson writes. “Obama is proposing a split responsibility between states and the federal government in which the feds would offer 75 percent of the money to send students to community colleges, while the states would put up the rest.”
“The design is, in part, a nod to states, which run the public college system—but it also could be read by some Republicans as a federal intrusion into states’ turf.” Johnson is a correspondent for the National Journal, also not a right-wing mouthpiece.