A vote to resolve the debt ceiling political crisis failed last night because House Republicans–who hold a majority in the House of Representatives–opposed the bill. Here’s a major reason why–Pell Grants, which are federal scholarships for low- and lower-middle income students:
House conservatives who have stalled legislation to raise the national debt limit are angry that it includes $17 billion in supplemental spending for Pell Grants, which some compare to welfare.
Legislation crafted by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to raise the debt limit by $900 billion would directly appropriate $9 billion for Pell Grants in 2012 and another $8 billion in 2013.
This has shocked some conservative House freshmen who say they were elected to cut spending, not increase it. Some House Republicans think of it as being akin to welfare.
That’s the polite version. A couple weeks ago, a Republican congressman explained the imaginary construct in the GOP’s collective psyche that enables such cruelty:
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) has compared Pell Grants to “welfare”.
“So you can go to college on Pell Grants — maybe I should not be telling anybody this because it’s turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century,” Rehberg told Blog Talk Radio in April. “You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, Section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.”
There was a time when such delusional justifications for greed, avarice, and cruelty were considered embarrassing, even beyond the pale. I never thought aspiring college students would become the new ‘welfare queens.’
Given the cost of tuition, not to mention ‘student fees’ and housing, even at the least expensive schools, Pell Grants don’t cover the full cost of college, which is one reason why lower-income students graduate at lower rates: they can’t afford to remain in school. The maximum grant award is $5,550 per year, which, on average, only covers one-third of the cost.
The good news is that Democrats, for once, held the line. Apparently, there are depths of moral degeneracy to which even they will not sink. If they had any brains (nope), they would be pounding the Republicans over this. (and note to President Obama: you do not negotiate with people who believe college scholarships are welfare).
This is what happens when a destructive self-reinforcing ideology is allowed to fester–intentionally so.
We can not endure half Fox News and half free.