House GOP Identity Crisis

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

On higher education, as on a host of issues, U. S. House Republicans offer unique criticisms, then wind up proposing solutions to crises that resemble those of the Democratic Party. Before he became House Speaker, U. S. Representative John Boehner, R-Ohio, signed onto a 2003 study on The College Cost Crisis.

Boehner was chairman of the U. S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce at the time. Among the report’s findings:

  • “The facts show tuition increases have persisted regardless of circumstances such as the economy or state funding, and have far outpaced inflation year after year, regardless of whether the economy has been stumbling or thriving;”
  • “Though funding for the Pell Grant program has increased dramatically over the past three decades, tuition increases at institutions across America have been regularly outpacing the rate of inflation by three to four times—and often more;”
  • “Americans believe wasteful spending by college and university management is the number one reason for skyrocketing college costs;” and
  • “Americans do not believe a dramatic increase in federal funding is the answer to the college cost crisis.”

(It should be noted that the report, once available online, is no longer. Access to it has been disabled. We have a hard copy that we found in the course of moving our offices.)  But what did the House GOP of a decade ago plan to do about it? Well, their proposals would easily fit on a White House teleprompter today.

They recommended:

  • “Holding colleges accountable for cost increases—without overburdensome federal intrusion;”
  • “Removing barriers for non-traditional students;”
  • “Improving quality and innovation by empowering consumers;” and finally
  • “Realigning student aid programs to ensure fairness for America’s neediest students and families.”

They then go on to brag about increasing spending on Pell grants. “Republicans are pleased that the FY 2002 appropriation signed by President Bush included another record increase for the maximum Pell Grant to $4,000,” the House GOP announced in 2003.  Nevertheless, every dollar raised through student aid seems to result in more administrative spending—bigger buildings, more land.  In fact, some Pell Grants never made it out of university administration offices to the students they were designed for.

Interestingly, the above proclamation seems to have resulted in some “bipartisan” legislation, co-sponsored by U. S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-California, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.. Emanuel, of course, went on to serve in the Obama White House and currently presides over the city of Chicago.


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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