Politics & Policy

Miller Not Answering Any More Personal Backround Questions

Joe Miller announced yesterday that he would no longer be answering questions about his personal background, reports ABC News.

Saying that he has “drawn a line in the sand,” Miller continued, “You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues — I’m not going to answer.”

Most of the recent criticism leveled at Miller has been about the fact that he campaigns against entitlement programs, yet has accepted government benefits in the past. Here’s a taste of how he’s being attacked as hypocrite, from a column by Elise Patkotak in the Anchorage Daily News:

Mr. Miller has seemingly not found a publicly funded program he doesn’t love to dip into for himself and his family, from Medicaid to Denali KidCare to student loans. But once he’s elected and secures the high-paid position of U. S. Senator with all its perks and healthcare benefits, he’ll do his best to see that those programs are eliminated so that you never have a chance to receive those same benefits …

Not only did Miller pay for law school with a student loan, but according to his disclosure, he still owes money on it.

So if I have this correct — and honestly, it’s so mind-boggling it’s hard not to picture his whole campaign as a huge “Punked” episode — this man who claims that the Constitution does not allow federal spending on education had his college education paid for by our tax dollars and his law school paid for by a student loan taken from our tax dollars which he still hasn’t paid back.

Is this a fair argument? Should anyone against entitlement programs never accept benefits from one? Entitlement programs don’t take place in a vacuum: they affect prices and other economic realities. Take the issue of government-sponsored student loans and financial aid. Some have argued that it’s been the driving cause of college tuitions rising astronomically. The person against entitlements can’t raise his hand, say he doesn’t favor this government assistance, and ask to only pay what tuition would be if the assistance didn’t exist. So then he’s faced with two choices: pay the higher cost out of his own pocket, even though he’s against the programs driving up the costs, or accept government assistance, and be on the same playing field as everyone else.

And there’s also the argument that all taxpayers, whether they’re for or against these various programs, are helping fund them. Is it fair that those against them see none of their money back in the form of benefits?

If there was a way to somehow create two economies, one for those against entitlement spending and one for supporters, I’d say Ms. Patkotak was absolutely right. But there isn’t — and if even conservatives have to live with the negative impact of entitlement programs, it seems unfair to brand them as hypocrites for sometimes taking advantage of the programs.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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