Bernie Sanders Wins Big by Proposing Free Public Higher Education
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants all public higher education to be free of charge.
Do You Want Free Public Higher Education?
In January, president Barack Obama proposed free community college for all. While the news was met with both cheers and skepticism, it heralded a watershed moment in higher education funding. Though Obama's proposal will take considerable time to implement, especially since it lacked details, I have no doubt that someday, in some form, it will come to fruition. It may take five years. It may take twenty-five years. But, someday, community college will be tuition-free, at least for qualified students.
The free community college proposal was big news. Now, however, an even bolder proposal should propel its maker to the top of the news cycle: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the socialist-leaning Democrat who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, wants to make all public higher education free, reports Market Watch. The bill is estimated to cost some $70 billion to enact, which is a hefty but not insurmountable amount. Thus far, Sanders has been the most aggressive Democrat when it comes to combating the rising costs of college.
The bill, and the issue of rising college costs, is a big winner for Bernie Sanders. While free public higher education is unlikely to occur any time soon, it is an important and refreshing political discussion to have. While Clinton is playing her cards close to the vest and keeping mum, Sanders is playing aggressively...and thrilling the audience. Young voters and voters with children approaching college age are likely to leap on the Bernie bandwagon if Clinton does not step up her game.
The proposal of free public higher education is a powerful combo with Sanders' existing goal of universal health care. If everyone had free health care, and qualified students got free higher education, then working- and middle-class families could finally have some real breathing room in their budgets. This would allow consumers to spend more money in the market and allow firms, both big and small, to flourish. Right now, our economy is burdened by excessive college and health care costs. When consumers must overpay for these services, they have no choice but to reduce their spending elsewhere. Sanders understands this and is being bold about speaking these truths aloud.
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is sticking to her husband's '90s-era moderacy, which will win fewer votes in today's weaker economy. If she does not act soon, she could be permanently tainted as a big-money "limousine liberal" throughout the 2016 election cycle, giving her Republican challengers plenty of ammunition. While Sanders' extreme views make him more of an ideological target for the countless Republicans running for president, they certainly cannot accuse him of hypocrisy! He is an honest politician, a rarity, and his honesty gives his big ideas credibility. We know he means them and will not shirk from them.
As a moderate and independent voter, I am willing to back this socialist candidate. As an educator, I believe that higher education should be tuition free to students who are hardworking and deserving. As a husband, father, taxpayer, and citizen, I believe that health care should be free to all. As an economics teacher, I know that freeing up consumer funds from the health care and education sectors will boost the success rate of the paragons of Republican values: Small businesses. Even Republicans can find something to love about Bernie's "radical" economic ideals.