Why No Nation Can Endure Half Fox News and Half Free: House GOP Believes Pell Grants Are Welfare

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.

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Wow, this even rivals the cuts in disability benefits for war veterans. The term "rapacious ass munch" is merely a mild euphemism when faced with this degree of putrescent ignominy.

The other villain(s) in the story are the for-profit "education" institutes. The ITT Techs, DeVry, Kaplan, U Phoenix etc., expend a great deal of effort to recruit Pell Grant recipients, and provide assistance to them navigating the paper trail. Of course all they want is the money, and they care little about providing real education. It is their drop-out rate that inflates the ugly numbers. Yes there is some Pell Grant fraud, every government largesse suffers from some graft. And in this case, the majority of it is aided and abetted by these institutions.

By Onkel Bob (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

It is clear at this point: Republicans are anti-American. They are actively working to hurt our nation's future, our military, our standing in the world, our economy and all but the wealthiest citizens. We need liberal candidates to stand up and start saying this during campaigns.

By Lynxreign (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

The real villains are supposed 'not for profit' institutions of "higher learning". That's where the vast majority of students are, and the fact that they average 55-65% graduation rates strikes me as a strong sign they've earned a "D" or an "F". And that's not even going into their graduation rates among pell grant recipients.

Furthermore, unlike the for-profits, the traditional universities are producing just enough token success stories that people can believe in class mobility. Ultimately, the universities keep the non-elites complacent, believing that if they can just get an education, they can pull themselves up from their bootstraps and succeed. Their role in society is to prevent the youth from rioting in the streets. Fear of youth revolt ala Egypt is motivating the democrats, not compassion for the poor.

If the US government wanted, it could require that any university that receives aid serve X% of students who are pell grant eligible, and then require that in order to actually receive maximum aid, they actually graduate X% of those students. The failure of the government to have done so should be a clear indication that the point of pell grants is not to provide an opportunity to lower income individuals, but to provide universities a subsidy to keep those individuals occupied.

I remember a discussion on healthcare at one point, which I think summed up the whole reason America is stuffed.

The Republicans in the discussion argued that single payer, although it was cheaper, more efficient, seemed to produce better results, was wrong because why should they have to pay for their neighbour's heart op?

In other words, you have a significant segment of the population that would rather pay twice as much for something, than have their neighbour benefit for free.

It was at about this point I realised that America is doomed. Not because of that singular issue, but because of the loathsome, scumbag idiocy that forms one half of its political paradigm.

This plays out on state politics. You have states which pay more into the fed than they get out, being whined at by the freeloading bums of the red states because they dare ask for some of that money to upgrade their infrastructure.

There is no fellow-feeling in that part of America. There are just sociopaths and, perhaps more sickeningly, people who want to be sociopaths trying to be the first ones to the carcass.

By Bruce Gorton (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

@ becca: creating a required % graduation will not make the students better, it will just make many insitutions award degrees to folks who should have flunked out.

By MIssouriMule (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

MissouriMule- if you cannot help your students better get better, you must get out of education

Posted by: becca | July 29, 2011 2:46 PM'

Passing is ultimately the responsibility of the student.

By Bruce Gorton (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

When it comes to the Reps fondness for spending "cuts, we might look no further than Wisconsin's own Mr Sneak Attack Walker. When questioned before the US Congress about whether his budget actually reduced spending, it took him two times dancing around the question before he answered "no." Reps like spending cuts for the social welfare of American citizens because it's funds that can be shifted to other "more important individuals."

By zukebreath (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

Well, at least the utter selfishness and greed is no longer held behind false pretenses. Of course that is about as comforting as when Hitler finally marched into France.

Still, it gives one hope that with the true colors finally flying that those hiding their heads in the sand will at last wake up and stand united against.

Wait, nevermind, the Duchess of Cambridge has bought a stunning new dress. News at 11!

If Republicans are cutting Pell grants, that means they want more people on welfare.

By Katharine (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

I't the slow creep of fascism (unless someone has a better word for it) This all stems from the same ideology rebranded time after time called free market, reaganomics, fascism or whatever...

cutting government revenue, spending more on military and wars, cutting education, healthcare, while increasing Corporate Welfare...

it's not just crazy it's a disaster!

By shroomduke (not verified) on 27 Apr 2012 #permalink

When it comes to the Reps fondness for spending "cuts, we might look no further than Wisconsin's own Mr Sneak Attack Walker. When questioned before the US Congress about whether his budget actually reduced spending, it took him two times dancing around the question before he answered "no." Reps like spending cuts for the social welfare of American citizens because it's funds that can be shifted to other "more important individuals."