The Corner

Politics & Policy

Betsy DeVos to Bernie Sanders: Free College Is Not Actually ‘Free’

Education secretary-designate Betsy DeVos had a critical economics lesson to offer Bernie Sanders during her confirmation hearing. Hearkening back to his presidential-campaign message, the Vermont senator asked, “Will you work with me and others to make public colleges and universities tuition-free through federal and state efforts?”

Granting that it is an “interesting idea,” DeVos said, “I think we also have to consider the fact that there’s nothing in life that is truly free — somebody is going to pay for it.” Sanders responded with an elongated “Oh,” followed by “Yes, you’re right, you’re right, somebody will pay for it, but that takes us to another issue.”

He moved to the topic of how to tax enough to pay for this “free college” scheme, but taxation, of course, falls outside the purview of the Education Department.

Sanders quickly veered off-course again and rambled about government-provided child care, forcing DeVos to calmly say, “I’m not sure that is a part of the Education Department.” Sanders, however, cut her off in order to talk about raising the minimum wage, Republican opposition, and child care.

From his opening question about America becoming an oligarchic state to his off-topic pontificating, Sanders’s interrogation made for interesting TV. But it looks like a win for limited government that DeVos realizes what the responsibilities of the education secretary actually are.

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