Right Hooks

Bush's College Plan Even Worse Than What He Recently Decried

Not the way to win over conservatives.

Jordan Candler · Aug. 27, 2015

If presidential contender Jeb Bush is looking to improve his standing among wary conservatives, his newest “idea” isn’t the way to do it. Let’s review: In January’s State of the Union, Barack Obama pitched a “free” community college plan, which Democrats quickly abandoned thanks to an upswell of negative feedback, including from Mr. Bush. During a visit to New Hampshire in April, Bush criticized the proposal, rightly opining, “The idea of giving something free — it’s political. It’s poll driven. Someone did a focus group. Free stuff. Free community colleges, it’s a great sound bite.”

So it’s a little strange — no, contradictory — that he embraced this week a plan that’s adopted straight from Obama’s “great sound bite.” The Hill reports, “Jeb Bush threw his support behind a Tennessee plan to give two years of community college to students tuition-free on Monday, the same plan that helped inspire President Obama’s similar proposal earlier this year.” Said the governor, “There are great programs around the country — one of the ones I most admire is a project called Tennessee Promise, where every student that participates gets their community college education, at least for the first two years, debt free, free of tuition.” The cherry on top? “If kids can’t graduate with a four-year degree in four years, there ought to be some payback to their families or to them, or there’s got to be some support for the loans they’ve taken out,” he continued (emphasis added). It’s one thing to flip-flop and side with Obama’s disastrous policies; it’s quite another to make them appear somewhat preferable in contrast.

Earlier this month Hillary Clinton unveiled her own plan to tackle sticker shock that — similar to the plans above —involves redistributing hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer revenue. Bush could learn a lesson or two from his Florida colleague and campaign rival Marco Rubio, who instead advocates a free market-based platform to lower tuition costs. “When Bush proposes policies like this, it’s no wonder why Republicans haven’t won a presidential election since 2004,” notes Hot Air’s Taylor Millard. Meanwhile, back in New Hampshire, Bush boasted of his “I’m-not-kidding conservative record.” He’s got to do better than embrace Big Government-sponsored boondoggles if wants to take the reins in the White House.

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