Free Tuition?

Why is Romney bragging on education policies a Democrat would love?

The following struck me from last night’s debate (and not because it was a domestic policy issue in a foreign policy debate, although there is that as well):

MR. ROMNEY: The first — the first — and we kept our schools number one in the nation. They’re still number one today. And the principles that we’ve put in place — we also gave kids not just a graduation exam that — that determined whether they were up to the skills needed to — to be able to compete, but also, if they graduated in the top quarter of their class, they got a four-year tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.

(I think, by the way, that this came up in the previous debate in a portion I did not see).

Now, this strikes me as a profoundly weird thing for Romney to bring up because such a program is nothing but the government subsidizing higher education for a substantial amount of students.

Now, I suspect his response would be the same as his federalism dodge on RomneyCare:  i.e., that if states want to do that kind of thing, great, but it has nothing to do with his general governing philosophy and nor is it something that the federal government should be involved in.

I can acknowledge the philosophical position, and even the constitutional theory, that says that funding higher education is a state level issue, but one would think that if Romney is, indeed, the deficit-cutting, debt-reducing, fiscally responsible advocate for individual responsibility and accountability that he wouldn’t be supportive of a give-away program.

Indeed, all of his bragging on Massachusetts public education is made all the more profoundly weird by the fact that the state is one of the states that spends the most on K-12.

In other words:  he is touting policy successes from his state that we would, in the context of US politics, associate with liberals/the Democratic Party.  It is one thing to make a federalism argument, it is another to basically endorse one set of policies/philosophies at the state level, but then utterly reject them at the national level (which is exactly what he has done with health care, for example).

And no:  this is not surprising given Romney’s debate performances (and general approach to campaigning) but it is still pretty audacious.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. The program only covers tuition at state-funded institutions. Students would still be responsible for fees which, at some institutions, can be quite substantial. So, it’s really not “free college”

    A quick Google search seems to indicate that many states have some form of merit based tuition waiver programs. Massachusetts is not unique

  2. @Doug Mataconis: Ok: free tuition. Fair enough, but that doesn’t alter my critique.

  3. I changed the title for accuracy’s sake.

  4. @Steven L. Taylor:

    And I think the federalism argument is the response here. States have the authority to many things that the Federal Government does not. I don’t see anything wrong with that, or any reason to argue that everything “good” that a state does must be adopted by the Federal Government.

  5. @Doug Mataconis: I disagree, because the issue is not simply which level of government does what, but a deep philosophical argument about government in general.

    At a minimum one should not run on state-level policy successes when running for federal office if one believes that said policy is not the domain of the federal government,

    Beyond that: are you suggesting that free tuition at the state-level is the small government, fiscally conservative position?

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And no: this is not surprising given Romney’s debate performances (and general approach to campaigning) but it is still pretty audacious.

    He is going after the Chutzpah vote.

  7. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Again, there are things that states can do that the Federal Government cannot do. I simply don’t see the contradiction here unless one is positing a version of Republican limited government-ism that has quite simply never existed. There’s no hypocrisy here because the ideal being pointed to never existed, especially at the state levell

  8. john personna says:

    I was shocked when it came up in the first debate. I am surprised that people adjust the curtains (Doug style, above) rather than deal with the audacity of a free market conservative touting free tuition.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    In the first debate, Romney made clear his view that (a) states have the primary responsibility for eduction, but there are a few things the federal government can do to help the states (hint: Doug probably likes them), and (b) he was using the Massachusetts record on education to defend against Obama’s claim that Romney doesn’t value education (its an argument on values, not policy)

    I think most people these days don’t understand arguments premised on federalism.

  10. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis:“Again, there are things that states can do that the Federal Government cannot do.”

    What is the point, either politically or logically, to bring up a policy that you will not pursue nor think is even Constitutional? Mitt Romney – “Vote for me because I WON’T repeat the successes I had as Governor or Massachusetts!” How does that make any sense?

    Mike

  11. @john personna:

    There are many Republicans who support merit-based scholarship programs. Trying to create a charge of hypocrisy here ignores the fact that education policy at the state level has always been a mixed bag in this regard no matter which party is in charge. Whether that’s a wise policy choice is a different question.

  12. john personna says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I think Romney plays a frequent game, and he did it in that segment. What happens is Obama or whoever talks about national policy. Romney answers “here is what we did in Mass,” which might lead the casual listener to think it is his national plan.

    You have to be a cynic, an insider to the game, to understand that he’s talking about something (as you suggest) that he’d never do as president.

    That more than borders on dishonesty.

  13. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    How does “we did free tuition” really match up to “shut down the department of education?”

    Is it simply bait and switch, as PD suggests?

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Federalism is utter horse malarky. It’s a stupid idea, a leftover from the 18th century that is ridiculous in the 21st. The idea that Rhode Island is a state and so is California is absurd on its face. Here we have 1 million people crammed into Massachusetts’s armpit and over there we have 38 million people with an economy the size of France. And they’re both states. In much the same way that a Matchbox car is an SUV.

    The only real use for federalism is as a cover for bigotry and cruelty – Jim Crow laws, anti-gay laws, or my own state’s three-strikes law.

  15. @Doug Mataconis: Yes, but it is still a government subsidy, merit-based or not.

    Look, I have not problem with the policy. I also agree that a lot of Republicans support such policies, But I think it is part of a general cognitive dissonance that a lot of Republicans have when it comes to public policy in general: government spending is awful, except when it isn’t. I think that an honest assessment would be helpful. Romney, however, is not engaging in an honest assessment, but is rather feeding the dissonance machine.

  16. @john personna:

    I think Romney plays a frequent game, and he did it in that segment. What happens is Obama or whoever talks about national policy. Romney answers “here is what we did in Mass,” which might lead the casual listener to think it is his national plan.

    You have to be a cynic, an insider to the game, to understand that he’s talking about something (as you suggest) that he’d never do as president.

    That more than borders on dishonesty.

    Exactly.

  17. @michael reynolds:

    Federalism is utter horse malarky. It’s a stupid idea, a leftover from the 18th century that is ridiculous in the 21st.

    I would say that federalism makes sense as a way of organizing daily governance in a country the size of the US. There are reasons to need local government (and there are any number of other federal states in the world, and they tend to be geographically large: e.g., India and Canada).

    What you are remarking on, actually, is the 18th century understanding of what the textbooks call “dual federalism” (which some reactionaries seek to restore) in which there were clear divisions of policy between the states and feds in a rather stark fashion. This was, of course, a model from the pre-Industrial Revolution.

  18. Steven,

    Based on last night, both candidates have been rather dishonest I think.

    But, again, I would just humbly suggest that you are holding this policy up to an ideal that does not exist, at least not at the state level.

  19. Doug says:

    The cost to attend University of Massachusetts Amherst is $13,230 – consisting of $1,714 in tuition and $11,516 in required fees. AFAIK Mitt’s program only overs the $1,714 in ‘tuition’.

    http://www.umass.edu/oapa/publications/factsheets/student_charges/FS_chg_01.pdf

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/18/1146370/-Romney-s-big-four-years-tuition-free-scholarship-covered-just-a-small-fraction-of-college-costs

  20. @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on last night, both candidates have been rather dishonest I think.

    Well, politicians and all. Some utterances are more striking than others, however.

    But, again, I would just humbly suggest that you are holding this policy up to an ideal that does not exist, at least not at the state level.

    I am not holding the policy to a given standard. I am holding Romney’s usage of it as a pro-Romney argument to a given standard.

  21. mantis says:

    “As a result of the expanding entitlement mentality, the Pell Grant program — the foundation of the federal investment in student financial aid — is on unsure financial footing. To keep up with the program’s massive increases, the government has been forced to take steps such as eliminating subsidized loans for graduate students. A Romney Administration will refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”

    This is from Romney’s education policy paper. It basically promises to cut Pell grants.

    Paul Ryan’s budget would dramatically cut Pell grants, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    So just so you know, Romney may brag about providing more financial aid to Massachusetts students, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as support for federal financial aid, which he wants to cut. So basically, he’s full of shit.

  22. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In this case, what PD and Doug are really suggesting, in a pragmatic sense, is that net transfers from rich states to poor states for the purpose of education should halt.

    The odd thing is that the poor states generally support that. Their main goal is to avoid teaching on evolution, etc.

    Advance a generation or two and you’ll want a coastal doctor, and you’ll hope to heaven you don’t get a president from a fly-over state.

  23. Franklin says:

    @michael reynolds: I see your point, but I’m going to have to be in rare disagreement. Federalism is simply one tool (perhaps a slightly clumsy one) to help divide responsibilities between non-local and local governments. And having different levels of government, from your local municipality all the way up to the UN, is more efficient than having one world government control everything.

    NOW, where you think education should fit here and to what extent is certainly arguable. And that’s what you’re saying about the Jim Crow laws, so I can partly agree there.

    I think the better argument here, mentioned by others above, is that Romney is misleading people into thinking that his state-level program might become a federal-level program. Or maybe he’s really suggesting that, we just don’t know.

  24. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on last night, both candidates have been rather dishonest I think.

    So you wave your hands around a bunch to shield Romney from charges of dishonesty, and then when you fail at that you fall back on both sides do it? Sad.

  25. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    For what it’s worth, I think we over-emphasize college and under-emphasize pre-school in this country.

    Planet Money Episode 411: Why Preschool Can Save The World

  26. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    “both sides do it” is a ward against all evil. Very Potteresque.

  27. C. Clavin says:

    The whole states rights argument makes some sense…until you look deeper and see that Romney supports a Federal Marriage Amendment…and then you realize it is only about providing political cover.
    The fact that Doug buys it hook-line-and-sinker is not suprising at all.

  28. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    For what it’s worth, I think we over-emphasize college and under-emphasize pre-school in this country.

    I agree.

  29. JKB says:

    @mantis: It basically promises to cut Pell grants.

    Increases in Pell grants are simply consumed by the university via higher tuition. One exception, at least 5 years ago, is in-state public school tuition. So Pell grants should be cut except for in-state public school tuition to avoid simply feeding the higher education inflation.

    For private universities, though, increases in Pell grants appear to be matched nearly one for one by increases in list (and net) tuition. Results for out-of- state tuition for public universities are similar to those for private universities, suggesting that they behave more like private ones in setting out-of-state tuition. Institutional responses in these latter cases appear at odds with federal grants-in-aid policy.

  30. C. Clavin says:

    “…Based on last night, both candidates have been rather dishonest I think…”

    BOTH SIDES DO IT!!!!
    Doug once again claims for himself the position of “ultimate arbiter of all issues”…a position for which he is uniquely dis-qualified.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna: I heard the “This American Life” part of that on Saturday. Blew my mind when it came up that Oklahoma has guaranteed preschool for all who want it…. Also that the very conservative person responsible for the legislation for it basically lied to get his colleagues to vote for it.

  32. john personna says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I didn’t listen to that one .. I’ll try to find time.

  33. mantis says:

    @JKB:

    Increases in Pell grants are simply consumed by the university via higher tuition. One exception, at least 5 years ago, is in-state public school tuition.

    That’s a huge exception, chuckles. About 2/3 of college students attend public colleges.

    So Pell grants should be cut except for in-state public school tuition to avoid simply feeding the higher education inflation.

    Your argument doesn’t follow. If you argued that they should be increased for this reason, it might make sense. However, you don’t. Also, the focus is usually to get more students on Pell grants, not to increase their size in line with tuition increases.

  34. bk says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on last night, both candidates have been rather dishonest I think

    Please list instances where Obama was “rather dishonest” last night.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna: It is worth it.

  36. rudderpedals says:

    @michael reynolds puts it better than I could ever hope to. Radical federalism if imported to us in the 21st century would be an extreme and revolutionary upset. Not at all measured and conservative. For the turmoil it would cause what would be gained by today’s federalist utopian’s vision of a newly straightjacketed Federal government leashed up to a tree as some in the 18th century would have it? I don’t see what we get in return besides the 50 blown up democracy labs.

  37. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    An audacious candidate would drop Pells and offer free broadband for any student of any age that enrolls in and keeps pace with a MOOC.

    (I’m in my first week of a couple MOOCs right now, taken to learn a couple things and to see how they work. So far I find them interesting and rewarding. It could be that you need some “self-starter” in you to make it work. Perhaps high schools could offer a senior class in “take a MOOC, any MOOC” to get that going. On the other hand, I see from one class that started yesterday, quite a few students are a week ahead and did the week in a day.)

  38. john personna says:

    @bk:

    “both sides do it” is a general spell.

  39. cd6 says:

    I agree with Doug.

    Romney’s complete 180 degree reversal on every major foriegn policy position he’s taken in the past 2 years, including rejecting pretty much everything ever thought by his advisor John Bolton, may have struck some people as bordering on possibly not being 100% factual.

    But Obama also said we have less horses and bayonets than 100 years ago, and as Sean Hannity was quick to point out, we still use bayonets, so this was completely dishonest.

    Ergo, both sides are dishonest to an extent
    Vote Romney.

  40. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah, because 1 size fits all….

  41. jan says:

    @bk:

    Please list instances where Obama was “rather dishonest” last night.

    There are too many to list. But, here are a few:

    1) GM attack — Romney’s own op-ed piece lays out what he would do, and it did not suggest liquidation of GM as the course to take, but laid out managed bankruptcy, as determined by the courts, not the government, as was ‘unfairly’ done under Obama’s plan (hence the nickname ‘Government Motors). It also recommended government guarantees to assure car warranties were not in jeopardy of not being honored.

    2) The Russia slam was correctly corrected as being stated as a major geopolitical foe, not how Obama tried to distort it, leading to his rant about Romney’s supposed out-of-touch foreign policy vision of world enemies.

    3) Obama lied about the Status of Forces Agreement. Biden was put in charge of reaching one, and couldn’t do it.

    4) Obama lied about claiming he did not propose the sequester plan. It is assumed his chief-of-staff (part of the WH) did that. But, it can’t be laid at the feet of Congress, which Obama tried to do last night (and when Obama referes to Congress, it is always directed at the ‘obstructing’ House Republicans, and not the Senate Democrats — funny little angle there). Bob Woodward addressed this in his very recent book sorting through inside WH politics — The Price of Politics.

    Also, Obama’s team is walking back Obama’s ad lib comment about sequestration not happening. Obama has already deliberately passed the deadline for sequestration perimeters, as it was too hot of a button for his campaign. The same goes for putting out those 60-day lay-off notices to defense contractors, because it might effect the VA vote negatively.

    For more fact-check of erroneous statements made by Obama……..

  42. David M says:

    @jan:

    1) GM attack — Romney’s own op-ed piece lays out what he would do, and it did not suggest liquidation of GM as the course to take, but laid out managed bankruptcy, as determined by the courts, not the government, as was ‘unfairly’ done under Obama’s plan

    Romney opposed the government taking steps to prevent GM and Chrysler from being liquidated, and no lie from him or his bootlickers can change that.

  43. john personna says:

    BTW, this one might match our natures, in the comment threads:

    https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain

    enjoy.

  44. C. Clavin says:

    JHC Jan…you link to some right wing nutcase no one has ever heard of…and the first link she provides proves her own point wrong.
    As Dan Akroyd said…”Jan, you ignorant…..”

  45. jan says:

    The Telegraph had it’s own take on the debate, offering yet another reaction to Obama’s tutorial on “horses and bayonets,’ as they related to Romney’s comment about the Navy.

    Twitter immediately lit up with examples of how the US Army does still use horses and bayonets (horses were used during the invasion of Afghanistan). More importantly, this was one example of many in which the President insulted, patronised and mocked his opponent rather than put across a constructive argument.

    This morning a military analyst, Maj General Bob Scales, said that even Lenin was quoted as saying that ‘bigger was better’ in being able to have the upper hand in patroling the world. If the Navy was brought down to 200 vessels, that would basically leave around 70 vessels left to do this job, when it comes down to some kind of ratio the Navy uses for this mission. He went on to say that not having enough military infrastructure leaves the men/women in the military more vulnerable and without adequate resources, such as was the case after Viet Nam and right after 911.

    At the end of the piece, the writer offered an observation that has been quoted by a multitude of others, including Chris Wallace:

    Romney now looks like the President and Obama looks like the challenger.

  46. jan says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The real nut case is yourself, who blasts anything that doesn’t pass your own liberal smell test. The site was conservative but linked to credible citations making her point. Get a life outside your own progressive bubble, for a change!

  47. David M says:

    @jan:

    No one is proposing to reduce the size of the Navy to 200 ships other than you. Why do you hate America?

  48. john personna says:

    @jan:

    Us dudes enjoyed the movie The Final Countdown. It explains succinctly why one aircraft carrier is worth a merely 40 years older fleet.

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I simply don’t see the contradiction here unless one is positing a version of Republican limited government-ism that has quite simply never existed.

    You mean, an intellectually and philosophically consistent version?

    There’s no hypocrisy here because the ideal being pointed to never existed, especially at the state levell [sic]

    This is an interesting defense — you can’t call us hypocrites because we’ve always been hypocrites, so our current hypocrisy is merely in line with our earlier and long-standing tendency to abandon our stated principles whenever expedient to do so in the pursuit of power. So there.

  50. C. Clavin says:

    Read what I said Jan…her citations undercut her points. She, like you, is making shit up.

  51. john personna says:

    Today the USS Ronald Reagan could defeat most countries on earth (literally). In 1917 there was no ship that could defeat any nation on earth. Well, with the possible exception of a dreadnought against an atoll, but that’s about it.

    If we assume that Romney and his campaign are not dumb, we are forced to believe yet again that they are making an argument for dumb people. It should be embarrassing to step up and defend such a thing.

  52. C. Clavin says:

    “…The site was conservative but linked to credible citations…”

    Her site is not Conservative…it is Republican…but I’m glad you understand the difference between Republican and credible.

  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    Romney answers “here is what we did in Mass,” which might lead the casual listener to think it is his national plan.

    Actually, if you notice, Romney never, ever says “here is what we did in Massachusetts.” It’s always ” here is what we did in the state I was governor of.”

    The word “Massachusetts” almost never crosses his lips — he knows that state is unloved by our wingnut brethren, and so pretends that it was not the Commonwealth of Soviet Socialist Massachusetts that he governed.

  54. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on last night, both candidates have been rather dishonest I think.

    More intellectual cowardice, and a pathetic retreat to the “both sides do it!” defense of the hack. When he can’t defend a policy, he falls back on the “hey, look over there, that other guy’s doin’ somethin’ too!” dodge. It would be sad if it wasn’t so expected.

  55. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @jan:

    laid out managed bankruptcy, as determined by the courts, not the government,

    …its almost as though the judicial system is not one of the three coequal branches of government…

    Further proof that natural-born citizens should have to take the same written citizenship test that naturalized citizens do in order to allowed to register to vote.

  56. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Romney’s own op-ed piece lays out what he would do, and it did not suggest liquidation of GM as the course to take, but laid out managed bankruptcy

    Bankruptcy with no financial support, which was nonexistent at the time except for the government, would have absolutely meant liquidation. Romney’s lie, not Obama’s.

    as determined by the courts, not the government

    Good to know the courts aren’t part of the government.

    The Russia slam was correctly corrected as being stated as a major geopolitical foe, not how Obama tried to distort it

    Hilarious. “Foe” is different from “enemy” how, exactly?

    Obama lied about the Status of Forces Agreement. Biden was put in charge of reaching one, and couldn’t do it.

    How did he lie about that? He never said they didn’t pursue such an agreement. They did, but the Iraqis did not want us there. Romney thinks that, despite the Iraqis wishes, we should still have at least 10,000 troops there. That is true.

    Obama lied about claiming he did not propose the sequester plan. It is assumed his chief-of-staff (part of the WH) did that.

    Oh, well it’s assumed. Well, I assume Romney thinks we should dismantle Social Security and Medicare. It must be true then, right? After all, I assumed it!

    But, it can’t be laid at the feet of Congress

    Really? Who passed the Budget Control Act, then? Obama, all by himself, as the executive? That’s a neat trick.

    Obama has already deliberately passed the deadline for sequestration perimeters

    Again you forget what the branches of government each do. You think the courts aren’t part of the government, you think the president passes bills, and you think Congress, well, who knows what you think Congress does?

    So, no examples of lies there. Good try, though.

  57. Septimius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “But I think it is part of a general cognitive dissonance that a lot of Republicans have when it comes to public policy in general: government spending is awful, except when it isn’t. I think that an honest assessment would be helpful. Romney, however, is not engaging in an honest assessment, but is rather feeding the dissonance machine.”

    That is not an example of cognitive dissonance. It is a caricature. Republicans aren’t anarchists. Hell, we’re not even libertarians. Republicans believe in government, just like Democrats. It’s the degree and the priorities that differ. This tired tripe that “Republicans are hypocrites” because they favor some government and oppose other government is so lame, and coming from a PhD in political science is really sad.

  58. Andre Kenji says:

    I never understood Romney´s idea that Socialism is OK, but only at state level.

  59. jan says:

    Obama offended bayonet companies, saying they are still relevant.

    According to the official U.S. Marine Corps website, every Marine is STILL required to complete a bayonet training program … because “the weapon becomes just as effective [as a rifle] in close combat situations.”

    It’s amazing how some of the smallest stuff will bring out ‘issues’ with people. I guess Obama may be the one, though, who needs a little more military schooling.

  60. David M says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I’m pretty sure Romney wasn’t trying to do anything more than convince voters to ignore his stated plans to cut eduction spending by saying how much he likes education spending.

  61. mantis says:

    @Septimius:

    Republicans believe in government, just like Democrats.

    Bullshit. Republicans constant refrain is to dishonestly quote Reagan: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” They always leave out the first part, “In this present crisis….”

    The message is very, very clear. Government solves no problems, is the source of all problems. Government should be shrunk and then drowned in a tub.

    It’s the degree and the priorities that differ.

    Not really. It’s that Republicans are liars.

    This tired tripe that “Republicans are hypocrites” because they favor some government and oppose other government is so lame

    You idiots made your bed, and now you must lie in it.

  62. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Obama offended bayonet companies, saying they are still relevant.

    No, they found a wingnut at one of them who clearly hates the president to dishonestly claim he said something he didn’t.

    Are you claiming that we have more bayonets than we did in 1916?

  63. jan says:

    @mantis:

    Parsing doesn’t take away distorted words…..I’m not going to go over your retorts point by point, but they are simply frivolous and inane.

  64. jan says:

    @mantis:

    Are you claiming that we have more bayonets than we did in 1916?

    A little edgy today, Mantis? Who knows. Why don’t you go out there and count them.

  65. Andre Kenji says:

    @Franklin:

    I see your point, but I’m going to have to be in rare disagreement. Federalism is simply one tool (perhaps a slightly clumsy one) to help divide responsibilities between non-local and local governments.

    More or less, Federalism is mostly a compromise. It´s hard to keep all the different regions of a large country together. You may recourse to force, but even that´s it´s difficult. In Mexico, Yucatan and most of the Northeastern region of the country almost managed to secede. in Brazil they had to hire European mercenaries so that provinces could not manage to secede from the central government. In cases of countries like Germany and the United States it´s was necessary to convince local governments to cede power to the federal government. The local elites won´t cede power for free, and slavery in the United States is an illustrative example.

    In part that´s why even authoritarian regimes like China and Russia try to give some autonomy to places like Tibet or Dagestan. The problem is that allowing states to do stupid things because they are states is stupid. A state that goes broke is going to affect all the other states.

  66. @Septimius:

    That is not an example of cognitive dissonance. It is a caricature. Republicans aren’t anarchists.

    You are missing the point. I am not saying that Republicans are anarchists, or even libertarians. I am pointing out the the rhetoric of Republicans is often very much anti-government in a way that does not line up with their policy preferences.

    This is what I mean by “an honest assessment”–but such an honest assessment requires a discussion of paying for things, which is not a conversation that Romney wants to have.

    Witness a great deal of talk about debts and deficits with one breath and then talk of increased military spending in the other.

  67. Andre Kenji says:

    @David M:

    I’m pretty sure Romney wasn’t trying to do anything more than convince voters to ignore his stated plans to cut eduction spending by saying how much he likes education spending.

    Maybe. But I remember what Romney said about health care. I don´t understand why something that works so well at state level is so bad at federal level.

  68. jan says:

    @David M:

    “No one is proposing to reduce the size of the Navy to 200 ships other than you. Why do you hate America? “

    Where in my comment was this my proposal? It was an example number given by the military analyst I was referencing — the nuance being that might be the number should sequstration cut into the Navy budget.

  69. @Doug Mataconis:

    unless one is positing a version of Republican limited government-ism that has quite simply never existed

    I’m pretty sure that not giving free tuition to a quarter of the students in each graduating class is a version of limited governmentism that has existed quite frequently.

  70. David M says:

    @jan:

    It [200 ships] was an example number given by the military analyst I was referencing — the nuance being that might be the number should sequstration cut into the Navy budget.

    And that seemed reasonable?

  71. @jan:

    They bayonet training in boot camp is for the purpose of teaching aggressiveness, not because it’s something still done in actual combat. In fact, if you tried to actually bayonet someone with a modern M-4, there’s a good chance you’d end up bending your barrel and rendering the rifle useless.

  72. David M says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    But I remember what Romney said about health care. I don´t understand why something that works so well at state level is so bad at federal level.

    Because Barack Obama proposed it at the federal level. It really is that simple, and the GOP has no shame about opposing their own policies.

  73. @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s the same as the army making trainees hit each other with those giant padded q-tips. It’s not done because they anticipate infantry ever being issued pugil sticks on the battlefield.

  74. Rafer Janders says:

    @jan:

    Where in my comment was this my proposal?

    Oh, I’m sorry, are you objecting to people taking your words out of context and twisting their meaning? What a horrible feeling that must be!

  75. David M says:

    @jan:

    my proposal was given by the military analyst, that [200 ships] is the ideal number..[for]..the Navy

    Romney-ized for your reading amusement.

  76. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Parsing doesn’t take away distorted words…..I’m not going to go over your retorts point by point, but they are simply frivolous and inane.

    In other words, you concede. Thank you.

    Why don’t you go out there and count them.

    Ok, I counted. The president is correct. We have far fewer bayonets than we did in 1916.

  77. matt says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Indeed the M4 is a very plastic thing that doesn’t feel remotely sturdy compared to say an akm..

  78. Franklin says:

    @Andre Kenji: We could use an example from one step lower, which is Michigan’s emergency manager law for cities that do stupid stuff. (And yes, Detroit is proof of why such a law is needed.) So what I’m suggesting here is a federal emergency manager law intended for states that can’t get their s**t together.

  79. john personna says:

    Only paying slight attention to this sub-argument, does any deployment really use bayonets?

    I think nowadays we prefer ammunition.

  80. grumpy realist says:

    @jan: You don’t know much about bankruptcy, do you?

    Nor about what actually happened with the whole GM/Chrysler bailout. The courts signed off on all the agreements.

    Therefore….?

  81. @john personna:

    They get bayonets, but they’re really used more as a generic utility knife than as something you afix to a rifle. The last recorded US bayonet charge was during the Korean War in 1951.

  82. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    as determined by the courts, not the government

    It’s been a while since high school civics, but I am relatively certain the court system is a branch of the government.

  83. @anjin-san: Perhaps it is not part of the government the same way that soldiers aren’t public employees?

  84. anirprof says:

    Doug,

    Are you really suggesting that the animating idea in conservative politics these days is not “small government”, but “federalism”? Really? In other words, Paul Ryan would have no problem with spending all free college or single-payer health care so long as done by states? The average Tea Party rally would give a “huzzah” for state-level investments in green energy, or state-based housing assistance for the poor? Grover Norquist would be fine with increases in state income taxes, so long as federal taxes are cut?

    It sure seems to me that ‘small government’ is a _more_ consistent theme in the conservative movement, and even in the Collected Positions of Mitt Romney[tm], than is federalism. I have no idea where you’re coming from.

  85. steve says:

    jan- Stop it. You are sounding stupid on the bayonet thing. Of course we still have them. We rarely use them, or horses, in warfare anymore. Not never, but rarely. Less was the correct term.

    Stormy- C.J. Chivers in his book on the AK-47 documented soldiers in View Nam having to use bayonets when their M-16s failed. They actually affixed bayonets before ambushes knowing that their guns might fail. Book is called The Gun and is excellent.

    Steve

  86. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    Maj General Bob Scales,

    You mean the Maj General Bob Scales that works for Fox News? No chance of bias there…

  87. anjin-san says:

    not having enough military infrastructure leaves the men/women in the military more vulnerable and without adequate resources, such as was the case after Viet Nam and right after 911.

    Hmm. Right after 9.11 the “inadequate” military accomplished something in Afghanistan in a few weeks that the Soviets were not able to do in a decade. It was a stunning accomplishment. Political mistakes have pretty much pissed that away, but that is a different story.

  88. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    If you actually look at NAEP test scores, white students in Texas do better than white students IN Mass. Hispanic students in Texas do better than Hispanic students in Mass. Black students in Texas do better than hispanic students in Mass.

    The only difference between the rich states (Mass., Conn., New Hampshire is that they are whiters than the red states in the South. What make Mass. better if the output of the private schools but that has nothing to do with public spending.

  89. john personna says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I just decided to go off and be caustic on “everybody but California.”

    Texas is a big petro-engineering state though, that makes them atypical of “poor.” In fact, they aren’t really poor, are they?

  90. john personna says:
  91. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    The science scores for Whites in California schools are well below the scores for whites in Texas. If anyone believes that the California public schools are capable of producing educated people who can compete in a global economy should be considered a fool.

    In reality, the public school system in the U.S. seems intent to making sure as few people as possible are educated and trained to compete in the global marketplace.

  92. john personna says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I think it takes a pretty big racist to (a) bend the conversation to whites, (b) capitalize Whites, and (c) talk crap without links.

  93. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    IF you are going to claim that Blue State schools are really better than red state schools, then you should have provided some links. Of course, Paul Krugman tried to make the same argument and was shown to not understand basic education statistics.

    If you are going to claim one state is better than another, then you have to compare the same demograpic group. There is no point in comparing Wisconsin to Texas like Paul Krugman did without understanding that Wisconsin schools are 90% white and Texas schools are 40$ white.

    I have always assumed that progressives are smart enough to look up the statistics on their own but maybe that is too big of an assumption.

  94. john personna says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Don’t you have a sheet to cut up?

    (for Halloween, of course.)