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The REALLY ANNOYING Don’t-Wanna-Subsidize-Wealthy-Kids’-College-Tuition Canard [With fun update!]

Hillary Clinton’s performance wasn’t as clean or as crisp as her last one. Among other things, she invoked 9/11 in order to dodge a question about her campaign donors. But she effectively made the case that, though Sanders speaks about important questions, his solutions are ultimately simplistic and hers are better. Instead of railing about breaking up the big banks, focus on identifying and moderating the biggest risks to the financial system. Instead of making college free for everyone, increase access to those who need it and decline to subsidize wealthy kids’ tuition.

Can anyone really imagine Bernie Sanders in the White House?, Stephen Stromberg, Washington Post, Nov. 15

Stromberg, a Washington Post editorial writer who also blogs there, is an all-but-official Clinton campaign mouthpiece who last month, in a blog post and (unforgivably) a Post editorial (i.e., commentary with no byline, published on behalf of the Post’s editorial board) baldly misrepresented what Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon on Tuesday misrepresented about Sanders’ single-payer healthcare insurance plan, but from a different angle: Stromberg said that the cost of the single-payer plan would be in addition to the cost of healthcare now.  Actual healthcare, not just insurance premiums.

According to Stomberg and the Post’s editorial board then, hospitals, physicians and other healthcare provides would receive full payment from private insurers and also full payment from the government.  And employers, employees and individual-market policyholders would continue to pay premiums to private insurers while they also paid taxes to the federal government for single-payer—double-payer?—insurance.

A nice deal for some but not, let’s say, for others.  Also, a preposterous misrepresentation of Sanders’ plan.

Fast-forward a month and Stromberg, this time speaking only for himself (as far as I know; I don’t read all the Post’s editorials) and for the Clinton campaign, picks up on Clinton’s invocation of the horror of the public paying college tuition for Donald Trump’s kids.  But since he probably knows that Trump’s kids no more went to public colleges than did Clinton’s kid, he broadens it.

Instead of making college free for everyone, increase access to those who need it and decline to subsidize wealthy kids’ tuition.  Good line!  At least for the ears of voters who are unaware that public universities, like private ones, quietly skew their admissions processes to favor the kids of parents who likely can pay full tuition simply by switching the funds from a CD or other savings account into a checking account at the beginning of each semester, thus removing the need for the school to dig into its endowment fund to provide financial assistance.  Or to worry about whether the student will have that loan money ready at the beginning of each semester.

Which is why Jennifer Gratz, salutatorian at her working-class Detroit suburb’s high school, whose extracurriculars included cheerleading but probably not a summer in Honduras assisting the poor, was denied admission to the University of Michigan back in 1995.  And why she sued the University in what eventually became a landmark Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality under the equal protection clause of UM’s affirmative action program.

She did not challenge the constitutionality of the U’s almost-certain, but unstated, admissions policy that would ensure that the freshman class had a substantial percentage of students from families wealthy enough to pay the full tuition.

Y’know, the ones wealthy enough to pay for SAT tutoring, SAT practice course and if necessary more than one SAT exam.

What especially angers me about this let’s-not-subsidize-wealthy-kids’-college-canard is that it uses disparities in ability to pay the tuition as a clever way to ensure the admissions status quo.  Or something close to the status quo.

In her and her campaign spokesman’s statements in the last several days—most notably her “Read My Lips; No New Taxes on the Middle Class, Even $1.35/wk to Pay for Family and Medical Leave” declaration, but other statements too—she’s overtly declaring herself a triangulator.  And some progressive political pundits are noticing it.  Yes!*  They!**  Are!***  And Sanders needs to start quoting these articles, in speaking and in web and television ads.

I said here yesterday that Clinton is running a Republican-style campaign.  But it’s not only its style–its tactics–that are Republican. Watch her edge ever closer on substance as well.  Which is the way she began her campaign last spring and early summer, until it became clear that Sanders’ campaign was catching on.

——

*Hillary Clinton Attacks Bernie Sanders’ Progressive Agenda: Why is she talking like a Republican?, Jonathan Cohn, Senior National Correspondent, Huffington Post, Nov. 17

**Hillary Clinton Hits Bernie Sanders on Taxes, Paul Waldman, Washington Post, Nov. 17

***Under attack at the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton plays EVERY POSSIBLE CARD, Alexandra Petri, The Washington Post, Nov. 14

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Edited for clarity, typo-correction–and the addition of the last sentence.  11/19 at 8:23 pm.  [Oh, dear.  That’s addition, not edition. Can’t seem to avoid the typos.  I need an editor!]  Corrected 11/20 at 9:52 a.m, after Naked Capitalism linked to the post.  Damn!  

Oh, well.

FUN UPDATE: Yves Smith was kind enough to republish this post on Naked Capital this morning, and there are a few terrific comments to it there.  But I can’t resist reprinting this one, from rusti, as an update the post here at AB:

rusti November 20, 2015 at 5:07 am

We can’t, in good conscience, continue to pay for public works projects knowing that The Donald’s kids are driving on these roads, getting their electrical power from these lines, sourcing water from the same pipes and so forth. A few (moderate) tax rebates to impoverished families to allow them to build out their own infrastructure ought to do the trick.

Perfect.  Question to self, though: Why didn’t YOU think of that, Beverly??

Added 11/20 at 10:18 a.m. 

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Is all of this LEGAL? — Specifics added, 2/16

By “this,” I mean this.  I don’t know, but it sounds to me like some of it is not.  

Wish I could ask Chris Christie, a former (very high-profile) U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (2001-2008).  He would know.  

—-
UPDATE:  In light of the comments to this post, saying that Florida law allows the type of influence-peddling that Rubio has engaged in (presumably, unless there’s some overt quid pro quo)–something that the article I linked to does make clear–I want to clarify what I think may be illegal (i.e., violate federal law, thus my reference to Chris Christie). From the article:

For Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, more government did indeed create more opportunities. As the Tampa Bay Times reported during his U.S. Senate run in 2010, it’s hard to determine with Rubio where politics stops and the private begins:

As Rubio climbed the ranks, he began to use little-noticed political committees to fund his travel and other expenses and later had a Republican Party of Florida credit card.

What emerged, records show, is a pattern of blending personal and political spending. Over and over again Rubio proved sloppy, at best, in complying with disclosure requirements.

Virtually broke, the 31-year-old lawmaker began campaigning to be House speaker in 2003 and created a political committee — Floridians for Conservative Leadership — to help elect other Republican candidates and curry their support.

With his wife serving as treasurer, Rubio did not wait for the state to authorize the committee before accepting campaign donations.

The committee listed its address as Rubio’s home, a modest place he and his wife bought in West Miami in 2002, but reported spending nearly $85,000 in office and operating costs and $65,000 for administrative costs.

Over 18 months, nearly $90,000 went for political consultants, $51,000 went for credit card payments and $4,000 went to other candidates. That’s less than the $5,700 that went to his wife, Jeanette, much of it for “gas and meals.” (Mrs. Rubio does not work and the couple file joint tax returns.)

Virtually broke, the 31-year-old lawmaker began campaigning to be House speaker in 2003 and created a political committee — Floridians for Conservative Leadership — to help elect other Republican candidates and curry their support.

With his wife serving as treasurer, Rubio did not wait for the state to authorize the committee before accepting campaign donations.

The committee listed its address as Rubio’s home, a modest place he and his wife bought in West Miami in 2002, but reported spending nearly $85,000 in office and operating costs and $65,000 for administrative costs.

Over 18 months, nearly $90,000 went for political consultants, $51,000 went for credit card payments and $4,000 went to other candidates. That’s less than the $5,700 that went to his wife, Jeanette, much of it for “gas and meals.” (Mrs. Rubio does not work and the couple file joint tax returns.)

Some of this sounds to me like taxable (but probably undeclared) income for him and his wife, beyond just his wife’s salary and actual expenses related to the PAC.  The PAC also sounds like it was largely a fraud; its stated purpose was to help elect other Republicans to the state legislature, and I guess some of the consulting was used by or for other candidates, although the article doesn’t make that clear, but just a tiny percentage of the donations were given to other candidates.

But also, two other things the article mentions sound like they violate federal law:

  • Rubio earmarked money to Florida International University and later got an unadvertised job as a part-time professor at the school. The former school president, Mitch Maidique, said Rubio was “worth every penny.”

  • After appropriating millions of dollars to Miami Children’s and Jackson Memorial Hospitals, Rubio formed a lobby shop and got contracts with the hospitals.

Some of these things sound like things that Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife were formally charged with yesterday, albeit on a much quieter scale, and some of the other things sound similar in nature, if not scale, to what former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted of.  

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Romney Says Two Current Republican Governors Support Obama’s Reelection! Really.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney escalated his attacks on President Barack Obama’s welfare waivers Monday, suggesting that welfare recipients make up President Barack Obama’s political “base.”

In an interview with USA Today, Romney defended his much-criticized ads, which falsely accuse the president of removing the work requirement in welfare. He insisted that the spots were accurate and that Obama had pursued his policy as part of an electoral calculation.

“There’s no question in my mind that the president’s action was calculated to… shore up his base,” Romney said, according to an extended quote that USA Today provided to The Huffington Post. “Weakening the work requirement in welfare is an enormous mistake.”

Mitt Romney Suggests Obama Welfare Waivers Are A Tactic To ‘Shore UpHis Base’, Luke Johnson, Sam Stein, Huffington Post, today

Two current Republican governors support Obama’s reelection?  Wow. That’s a very big political story! And apparently it’s true!  Since two of the five governors who requested the waiver that Obama granted in order to fire up his base are Republicans (presumably expecting that Obama would grant the waiver requests in order to fire his base), those two Republican governors must be in cahoots with Obama. 

And since virtually no one—members of Obama’s now-fired-up base, included—even knew of the waiver requests and the waiver grants until the Romney campaign made sure they and everyone else (including Romney’s base) did, it seems that the Romney campaign also wants to fire up Obama’s base.  Not to mention their own.

Didn’t know that Obama’s “base,” er, base, had been clamoring for welfare waivers. Then again, I didn’t know that Utah’s and Nevada’s Republican governors were part of that base.  I mean, who knew?
Oh, brother.  

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