The Agenda

Josh Barro on Higher Education and the Virtues of Chris Christie

At The Daily, Josh Barro offers suggestions on how to encourage cost containment at U.S. colleges and universities:

Colleges and universities should take greater advantage of technological advances that could finally improve productivity in the education sector, such as distance learning and video instruction.

Congress should, as well, revisit the special protection that student loans get from discharge in bankruptcy. Making student lenders take on more default risk would encourage them to better underwrite student borrowers, preferring to lend against the degrees that are most likely to be marketable. This would make it hard to hike tuition for degrees of marginal value.

And at Forbes, he makes a convincing case that Mitt Romney should pick Chris Christie as his running mate. I was particularly intrigued by Josh’s argument that Christie could help Romney forge legislative coalitions. He points to the New Jersey governor’s success at securing Democratic support for his core initiatives. One potential rejoinder is that George W. Bush succeeded in winning over Democrats in the Texas Legislature as governor, yet he wasn’t able to replicate this success with Democrats in Congress at president. Moreover, Christie has benefited from the staunch support of leading Democrats in southern New Jersey, who really are highly idiosyncratic figures. But I’m nevertheless inclined to think that Christie could do some good in this domain.

Another friend, however, has suggested that while Christie’s confrontational and rather blunt affect goes down well in the northeastern United States, it might not go down as well in the country at large. That remains to be seen.  

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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