If one thing is clear about the over-crowded but quickly thinning Democratic presidential field, it is that everyone and their mother wants to give America all the free stuff possible. Among the policies proposed, there is to be free healthcare, free education, free housing, government-mandated incomes, and even free childcare.
And it all sounds great, right? Here is a whole party who wants to give us free things. No longer will we have to stress about paying for ghastly doctor’s bills, outrageous college tuitions, or monthly rent/housing fees that dwindle our savings and increases the amount of gray in our hair.
At least that how it looks at the outset. For all the world, it seems like these candidates actually care about us and want to make our lives a little easier.
But the problem lies in the application of these policies. Yeah, sure they sound good, and I’m sure these candidates have the best intentions for America. But what if they don’t work? All of these plans require some significant changes to be made to our country and our economy. What if those changes are made and no one really benefits? Or worse yet, what if the price of these plans isn’t worth benefits?
That is precisely what is being determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research or NBER.
First up, the free college tuition plans of frontrunners Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And it’s not looking good.
Both Warren and Sanders have proposed plans that would make college more affordable, if not entirely free, for all Americans.
However, a new study completed by NBER found that if those plans were to be implemented, over 86 percent of American households would not only not benefit but would incur losses.
It said, “free-public-college policies, mandatory or subsidized, would decrease state expenditures on and hence the quality of public education.”
As the study says, “The idea of ‘free’ public college is politically seductive. But of course, a college education can’t actually be free – someone must pay for it.” And if the government is implementing the plan, then the government is also paying for it.
So how does a government, who already has an extensive national deficit, get the trillions of dollars needed to pay for free college tuition?
There are two options. The federal government could make the plan mandatory, forcing states to participate, which would cause the state government to help with costs. States would be forced to come up with the money in an already tight budget. State taxes would be raised first of all. But in addition, funds would have to be diverted from early education needs like teacher salaries, new and much-needed school equipment, and even curriculum costs.
Essentially, education standards in every state would be lowered so they could pay for “free college.”
So what’s the other option? Well, instead of states paying, it would be Washington. The federal government would subsidize the states to “encourage” them to give free tuition, which is pretty much a nicer way to say mandatory.
While this would take such high demands off of the state, the federal government would still need lots of money to make it happen. This means raising taxes for citizens. So instead of paying the college or university for your education, you are paying the government.
In either case, Americans end up paying higher taxes and have education standards lowered.
Yuichiro Kakutani from the Free Beacon said, “Warren’s plan would force state governments to withdraw resources from public K-12 education to fund the free college program, worsening the overall quality of education students receive before college.”
“The lower education quality, along with higher tax rates, would contribute to a decline in welfare for U.S. households.”
But more people would get degrees, right?
However, even that isn’t certain. Research completed by Harvard University on an existing free college program in Massachusetts for high-performing students found that fewer students ended up finishing their education. And the NBER study confirmed this with their research.
They found that in public four-year schools, drop-out rates would fall from 62 percent to 58 percent. And in addition, the number of students enrolling in a two or four-year degree program would only increase slightly from today’s statistics.
The study concluded, “Over 86% of all households would lose while about 60% of the lowest income quintile would gain from such policies.” Just to be clear, that means only the lowest 14% of America will benefit.