For Obama, federal government reach has NO limit – Free college proposed

For years, I’ve been advocating the complete shutdown of the U.S. Department of Education. In the United States Constitution, funding of education is never mentioned or implied, but for 35 years federal government has been handing out cash to states and school systems in return for capitulating to prescribed standards and rules created by federal bureaucrats. Now President Obama wants to offer up “free” college education.

When I propose the U.S. Department of Education be shuttered, people first think I’m nuts. But I remind them every school in our communities has a school board, every town and city has their own Department of Education and if not, they have one at the county level. Those towns, cities and counties also have their own massive education budgets. In the town of Windsor, Connecticut, the top line of the budget is the Board of Education, and its budget is more than twice that of the town’s remaining operating budget.

Then we have the state’s Department of Education. Yup, there are 50 of those – or 57 depending on who you ask. In Connecticut they spend $3.5 billion dollars a year.

These state and local government departments are filled with education experts; teaching experts and administration experts. A significant number of the teachers have advanced degrees and many have doctorates. Why the heck do we need a group of federal bureaucrats – filled with their own collection of employees with advanced degrees and doctorates – to pick “winners and losers?” This group comes up with rules and regulations – think No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core – states and local governments must follow to “win” funding.

Are the federal bureaucrats so much smarter than those teachers and administrators at the local and state level? Of course not. The creation of the U.S. Department of Education was to incrementally move control of the education system away from the states and local communities to the federal government. Centralized planning ya know?

Now, Obama has proposed two free years of college to everyone in the country who completes high school.

President Barack Obama will need the approval of Congress to realize his proposal for making two years of community college free for students.

So far, that plan doesn’t have an official price tag — other than “significant,” according to White House officials. If all 50 states participate, the proposal could benefit 9 million students each year and save students an average of $3,800 in tuition, the White House said.

But administration officials insisted on a call with reporters Thursday evening that “this is a proposal with bipartisan appeal.”

Come now… how could you NOT support this? If you’re against the program, you must hate these kids who want to go to college, but just can’t afford it. I’m certain someone will call me racist for my strong stand against this program and the U.S. Department of Education. I still say NO.

Today, Obama and his entourage is heading to Tennessee to stump for his proposal. (He’s still on his never-ending campaign tour.) Why is the president heading to the Volunteer State?

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, whose brainchild Tennessee Promise program strongly influenced Obama’s proposal.

So if the state can do it, the federal government can do it better? Look, I have no issue with Tennessee coming up with and funding this program. We have 50 great states, and those state governments – and their people through the State Legislatures – have significantly more power to do this kind of stuff as compared to the federal government. The federal government’s role is explicitly limited by the Constitution, leaving all laws, regulations and powers not specifically enumerated to the states. Let me remind readers once again about the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

What could be more clear? Our states can be, and absolutely must be, great incubators of ideas when it comes to the operation and funding of government. This applies to everything from education to health care, to energy, to housing, to agriculture, to the environment. All federal departments that should be shuttered. In May of 2012 I referred to Mitt Romney’s presentation on health care.

You’d be surprised at how open I [Steve] would be to letting the states and the people – state legislatures – make decisions on how to approach the health care issue. As Romney points out in his presentation, the states can be laboratories of democracy (my terminology has been “incubators of ideas”) and the competition between the states would be a constant motivator to come up with the best solution possible.

Fifty states, all competing and working to find a great solutions for their own state while at the same time encouraging other states to do the same. What a concept … and quite honestly a founding goal of our Founding Fathers.

Update: Although the Obama administration would not put a price tag on this proposal, one estimate is $34 billion per year. Actual budget appropriations for U.S. Department of Education budget in 2012 and 2013 was about $40 billion per year. That would be an 85 percent increase in one year.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. PaulBartomioli on January 9, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Well as we have seen over the years, trough feeding politicians NEVER let a minor detail like the LAW OF THE LAND get in their way. The child of these actions is obama, Mr. “I have a pen and a phone.”

  2. ricbee on January 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Listening to the show,the last question posed was a very good one,
    Who called DCFU in on this Cassandra C. Chemo case?
    HH or one of its evil doctors? Is she under guard or cuffed to the bed?

  3. sammy22 on January 9, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    OK, I agree, let’s abolish the Dept. of Ed. Then what? How to undo the rest and make-up the “shortfall” for the local Boards of Ed? Do we simply take the money away or ask for more local taxes?

    • PaulBartomioli on January 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      There is no “shortfall.” Each state sends its tribute to the DoE. Once that tribute is no longer sent, it is used by the state as it was intended for local education needs. CT has never gotten a 100% return on its tribute. Some our money goes to “more deserving” states, as determined by the DoE.

    • johnboy111 on January 9, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Dept of ED [erectile dysfunction] another vehicle of the gov to control what our kids are forced fed??
      get them early and often..

    • Steve McGough on January 10, 2015 at 11:16 am

      It’s actually quite simple. The people of the state – through their state legislatures – and the local cities, towns and counties have some decisions to make. After the federal government cuts the department/departments from existence, those dollars are immediately returned to taxpayers through federal tax cuts. REAL CUTS at the federal level … an actual REDUCTION in spending. NO accounting games. Then the states and local communities simply raise taxes to cover what-ever they want to cover. They would have control, and would not be held hostage by the federal government, spending thousands of hours and thousands of dollars filling out applications in hope they will “win” funding from the feds. They would do what they need to do to improve the education system in their communities and states. Other states would do the same, since people make decisions on where to live and raise a family based on the success of the school systems. Competition breeds success. Families will be looking for a great education at a reasonable price.

    • sammy22 on January 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Apart from the non-trivial issue of “returning the dollars to the taxpayers”, I believe that the states and local communities already have control of their education systems and funding thereof. That said, some/most are doing a “poor job” at funding the education systems (so I hear in my state). So where is the upside other than the hope that this approach will bring the hoped for results?

    • Dimsdale on January 10, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      If the locals “already have control of their education systems and funding thereof”, then isn’t the DOE redundant? What do they do other than issue unfunded mandates and squander money that should actually be spent directly on the students? I find it amazing that a deep blue utopia like CT or MA, with all their temples of higher education, should have any issues with funding or effective education? They sure can’t blame Republicans.

      The upside is the fact that the DOE does more harm than good, both from sucking up funds and issuing “one size fits all” educational mandates, and its eradication will end that.

    • sammy22 on January 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Dims, read above: abolish the Dept of Ed. The “problems” with education do not go away. Take a look at what is happening in red states: underfunding of education budgets: lousy outcome for the students and the state educational system in general.

    • Dimsdale on January 12, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Sammy, the problems associated with the DOE absolutely go away, and the costs associated with its mandates do as well. Perhaps that might help to restore funding in “red states”. As an aside, I work in a state school in true blue MA, and there isn’t a minute when we aren’t dealing with budget cuts, restricted funding, hiring freezes, and tuition/fee increases. I note that “lousy” learning outcomes are not limited to red states by any means. To wit:!slide=989952

      Education should be above politics.

    • Dimsdale on January 12, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Heck, if homeschoolers can be successful teaching their children, why can’t the so called “professionals” in public schools?

    • ricbee on January 10, 2015 at 11:46 am

      We got along without it for many years & can do it again,cheaper & better.

  4. Plainvillian on January 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

    What a crock! The proposal to fund “free college” with a federal program is a win/win/win for the socialists. It destroys another facet of federalism while creating more dependency and the need for more bureaucracy. It is another wet dream for the politicians in Corrupticut, especially Dannel PEE Malloy.

  5. Dimsdale on January 10, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Anything that is “free”, education, housing, EBT cards, etc., is not respected and inevitably abused. Nobody respects what they didn’t work or pay for. Free is another way of saying “worthless”, and that is what ?bama will turn the community colleges into.

  6. JollyRoger on January 11, 2015 at 1:15 am

    If you think college is expensive now, just wait until it’s free! It’s amazing the irrational exuberance and flatulence associated with college degrees. The value of a degree and a college education ought to be tanking after what we’ve seen with the Obamas. Hail to the Chief should be replaced with Send in the Clowns!

  7. bien-pensant on January 11, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Something here bothers me. Not the post or the subsequent observations. They are valid. It is that they are logical responses to a political posit. Obama, love or hate him, is a political animal and he has advanced a truly political, and simplistic, emotional proposition. It appeals to many people on many levels.
    The democrats are masters at playing the emotional card to outmaneuver the Republicans. They have done it here with great effect. Argue against this and you are pegged as, well, you know, a Republican.
    It takes no effort to dismantle Obama’s proposal from the conservative/libertarian position. However, if the proposition gains traction, the conservatives in Congress — are there any? — need to be prepared to outflank the president and figure a way to do him one better. Once again, the democrats have gained the emotional high ground and have defined the opposition.

  8. Lynn on January 12, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Stop spending

    • Dimsdale on January 13, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      I agree: it should read on that poster on the mainpage for this post “Education is a human right; paying for it is a personal responsibility.”

    • bien-pensant on January 13, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      I like that.

    • Eric on January 14, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Nice reply Dims… but have you ever known a liberal to take responsibility for anything, much less your paycheck?

    • Dimsdale on January 14, 2015 at 9:47 am

      That was a rhetorical question, right? 😉

      Of course, they happily take responsibility for confiscating my money and spending it for me…..

    • bien-pensant on January 13, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Yes! Exactly. But, we are talking about democrats here… their objective is to grow the government and maintain — and increase — their power through: expanded government bureaucracy, increased regulation and associated rules, etc.
      “Free community college for all” is just another way to grow the government with an added bonus, which is, further legitimizing immigrants (legal or not), funneling money to them and, voil?, future democrat voters beholding to the democrat party.
      Trace it back and even the bureaucrats are beholding to the democrats.

  9. Lynn on January 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Was anyone else struck by the juxtiposition of European leaders marching in solidarity against fanatic Islamists, while the President was only concerned with his speech the next day about free Community College for all citizens. I know that Europe is responsible for their own PC attitude and allowed sections of their countries to be governed by sharia law. But, also realize that many of these countries offer free college tuition for their citizens. Heck, they offer free education to US citizens. This is just one of the reasons why they can’t afford a strong military to fight fanatic Islamist terrorists. So we had and still have little help in the”War on Terror”. So does POTUS learn from their mistakes, no instead we have to copy the decaying civilization of Europe. However, I do grieve for their loss, their fear is palpable even across the ocean. Maybe they have learned free education is useless against jihadists that want to kill you. BTW, I got my info on free college tuition in Europe from Wikipedia.

    • sammy22 on January 14, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Nothing is FREE, not even in Europe. Education is “paid for” through taxes, and most of the college costs are paid in such a manner. In the USA taxes form several sources pay for K-to-12, so what is the big difference?

    • Lynn on January 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Of course it is not free, it is paid with taxes. That is why France raised thetaxes so high on therich. They lost many citizens, now thay have reduced it and Gerard Depardou has returned. The difference is that it is in our own interest to pay for K-12. It is not for college. First off not everyone should go to college. We need tradsmen, farmers and tool & dye men and other skilled tradesmen
      Paying for college by the govt will only raise the cost astronomically. The darn colleges can stop paying their professors so much, especially the ones who have RAs teach, while they write books

    • sammy22 on January 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      I respectfully suggest that not everybody is competent to complete K-12, and that tradesmen, farmers etc. need not come from the ranks of the K-12 system. There are other ways to train young people for non-college careers. I find it ironic that we “tolerate” having a large population of college graduates w/ large debts and that in a capitalist system ways have not been found to drive down the cost of a college education by the law of supply and demand. Why does the law work in the electronics sector and not in the education sector?

    • Lynn on January 14, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      You answered your own question, it is supply and demand. People in the States are willing to pay exhorbitant tuitions. But don’t forget how many foreign students come to our best universities. Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, India, the rich and powerful come from foreign countries to become Drs, lawyers, researchers, hackers ( Bob Beckel’s favorite) etc. As long as there is a demand for our higher education, the colleges & universities will supply it. Oh and please tell me that the Government should “fix” this or I may vomit.

    • Dimsdale on January 15, 2015 at 11:42 am

      The bulk of local schools is paid for by local taxes. Go look at your tax bill. I get the distinct “honor” of paying twice, because I choose to send my children to a parochial school. Apparently, the public schools are soooo good, they need my money even though my child does not attend public schools. I will now hear that everyone pays school taxes, even if they don’t have kids in school, and that is fine, but why should anyone, particularly those with actual children, have to pay twice? If the true interest is in educating the children, the money should follow the child, wherever they attend school. But our fine teacher unions will have none of that, presumably because it is “for the children.” No, it is for the teachers and the unions.

    • Lynn on January 15, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Dims we are working on a different way of paying forEducation here rather than property taxes. The guy I worked for that is serving his second term as a St Senator is trying to find the best way. Believe it or not a Democrat strategist responsible for getting Courteney elected is working with him. I am staying in the mix to make sure this is a good thing, not another stupid give away. I know that doesn’t help you in MA, though.

  10. Eric on January 14, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Free college is not a human right. Most people know that, and most people understand when a politician is pandering to his base. In fact has a day ever gone by that this president hasn’t pandered to his base? There will always be a few who will actually believe what this man says to be true, but we all know how cheap his promises are and what usually happens to them after his campaigning is through.

  11. Lynn on January 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Eric, I regret to say my smart and Wesleyan, then Havard Divinity educated brother is one of the President’s base. A few years ago when he lived in MA he supported Elizabeth Warren and still does. Mostly because he has four children and his main concern on Facebook is cost of college and the loans. His cause today was the fact that Republicans are supporting Keystone Pipeline and Climate Change will destroy us all. My sister and I just don’t argue with him. He has already warned me I should not tell him I am Tea Party, so I don’t tell him.

    • ricbee on January 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      It still baffles me when smart people cannot escape the brainwashing they have been given. Tea Party on!

    • Dimsdale on January 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Education does not guarantee intelligence. Or common sense for that matter.

    • Lynn on January 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Well thanks, because I never graduated from college. I am self educated, and I know I did a better job, than any college could do for me. I think I have common sense, not on everything, that is for sure. But hearing that from an educator, does help. I have another friend same as me, we both never tell anyone about our lack of diploma. I am big on internships and two year schools for trades, most colleges and universities are nothing but a four year binge drinking party. Plus progressive brainwashing from day one until the four to five year ride to a diploma.

  12. bien-pensant on January 18, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I don’t hear or see anything in the Lame Stream Media about free college for everyone. Possibly this is not being taken seriously and it will be just another Obamanism? It will be interesting if he is just ignored. After all, he ignored going to Paris to show solidarity with the world against radical Islam and by extension to support the world media.

  13. Don Lombardo on January 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    No goose that laid the golden egg here. Socialism works the other way – it turns gold into manure.


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