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Support for Lots of Immigration, Not Necessarily Altruistic

Funny how moral principle in politics seems so often to align with self interest.  Here’s Byron York in the Washington Examiner:

Why is Washington State mounting such a vigorous challenge to President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending non-American entry from seven terrorism-plagued countries? Of course there are several lawsuits against the president, and there are lots of motives among the various litigants. But Washington State’s is the suit that stopped the order, at least temporarily. And a look at the state’s case suggests that, behind high-minded rhetoric about religious liberty and constitutional protections, there is a lot of money at stake.

Judging by the briefs filed by Washington State, as well as statements made by its representatives, some of the state’s top priorities in challenging Trump are: 1) To ensure an uninterrupted supply of relatively low-wage H-1B foreign workers for Microsoft and other state businesses; 2) To ensure a continuing flow of high-tuition-paying foreign student visa holders; and 3) To preserve the flow of tax revenues that results from those and other sources.

And don’t forget Medicaid, SNAP, public education, and other federally subsidized welfare programs available to legal and (probably) illegal immigrants on the government plantation.

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Scoffing at Trump for his Ethical Approach

I’ve seen variations of this comment, captured here in a Wall Street Journal article by Jess Bravin, in multiple places:

“If Trump is hoping that Judge Gorsuch will be a rubber stamp for the Trump administration, he is woefully misguided,” said former clerk Jason Murray, a Denver attorney who later clerked for Justice Elena Kagan.

The president’s expressed preference for pulling back restrictions on church leaders’ ability to make political statements has raised similarly cynical responses.  In a tweet that flitted through my stream, somebody suggested that Trump should be careful what he wishes for because many churches would use their new latitude against him.

As such thoughts pile up, even people who dislike President Trump should start asking themselves how many actions he has to take that could arguably constrain him politically in the future before they reevaluate their assumptions.  I’m not saying that this is my solid assessment, right now, but maybe Trump is doing things that he believes are right (or perhaps that some among his allies believe are right) without regard to their political consequence for him.

Somehow, I suspect we learn more about the people who make such comments (and the media that promotes them) than we do about President Trump when they scoff at his actions because they think he doesn’t realize the political implications.  They seem to be implying that they, themselves, would not do the right thing if it looked likely to have political ramifications for them.

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Wanting Government Restrictions on Others’ Behalf

As far as arguments against a policy go, points like this are terrible: 

While some conservative Christians would like to see the rule [against religious organizations’ involvement in politics] abolished, others, especially the younger generation, support a clear separation of church and political endorsements. Many liberal churches are also active on policy issues, and could potentially get more involved in partisan politics.

Mayer noted that for some religious leaders, the IRS rule has given them a way to avoid political pressure for an endorsement.

“Now a church that wants to say no has an easy answer, it’s illegal,” Mayer said.

Really?  Those tasked with promoting and explaining a religion are timid about explaining why they might not want to endorse anybody, or even a particular candidate?  Nobody will be forced to express an opinion.  I suspect it’s more the truth that they don’t feel comfortable with it themselves and wish to restrain others from what they see as an unfair advantage.

Perhaps, too, those who object tend to be of the sort who are entirely on the same page as the secular culture, so they know their political work will get done, making it worth taking a slight hit in order to impede others whose Churches play a role to the secular culture.

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A Deliberate Spectrum of Protest, from Riots Up

Overall, a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Nicholas and Carol Lee doesn’t exactly paint the picture of a White House in disarray, but rather of an ambitious president mixing things up and having to make adjustments in the process.  Those are very different stories, mostly of interest to those addicted to political news.

The more broadly significant, in my view, is this passage:

[Randy Bryce, political director of the local ironworkers union,]  learned through labor contacts the Secret Service had done a security check at a Harley factory in Menomonee Falls, Wis. He began organizing car pools and buses to bring demonstrators to the middle-class suburb in heavily Republican Waukesha County. Also, “we put up phone numbers for the [Harley] public-relations department and pretty much anybody we could get hold of,” Mr. Bryce said.

At Harley, which never acknowledged Mr. Trump planned a visit, executives became nervous about demonstrators, said a person familiar with their thinking. As word spread of the mounting protest, Mr. Trump’s appearance was canceled—at whose behest neither side has said.

Let’s stipulate that the labor union was planning a more-or-less standard union protest, maybe with some tense moments, but generally with a sense of control.  Even controlled protests, however, are now happening in an environment of potential riots, as seen at the University of California in Berkeley.

The first layer of threat against a company that takes the unextraordinary step of welcoming the President of the United States is that it will face organized boycotts and vitriol on social media.  If that isn’t sufficient, progressives have ensured a looming threat of property destruction, too.

Somehow, I don’t see this having the long-term effect that the activists want, but we’ll see.

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Ah, the General Assembly’s Legislative Grant Program

Here’s a telling little tidbit that slipped through the strainer of Tiverton politics, from a not-online Newport Daily News article by Marcia Pobzeznik on January 30.

Town Council Member John Edwards the Fifth (son of Democrat State Representative John Edwards the Fourth) appears quietly to have planned a beach bonfire for Christmas trees, which left his fellow council members feeling like “the Town Council was the last to know,” per councilor Denise DeMedeiros.  They finally found out when they were called to a special meeting to decide whether to cancel the event because of gusty winds.

Here’s the telling part that makes the anecdote of statewide interest:

Firefighters and a fire engine would have been required at the beach, deMedeiros said, along with a police detail for crowd control.  She asked Edwards if he had considered the costs.

A legislative grant would take care of the costs of the firefighters and the police detail, said Edwards, son of Rep. John “Jay” Edwards, D-Tiverton.

There is no such grant on the House’s list, although it’s dated only through October 1.  The Senate’s list is more up to date and has some grants for Tiverton, but whether or not they’re associated isn’t possible to tell.

Think of the process, here, especially involving the son of the legislator who successfully pushed legislation to make it more difficult for individuals to participate in local politics, creating hurdles for them to jump in the name of “transparency.”  A Town Council member almost pulled off a public event involving town property and the use of town employees without the knowledge of at least some of his fellow councilors, and the whole thing was supposedly going to be funded through a General Assembly handout that, likewise, nobody else had any idea about.

Obviously, given the lack of transparency, there’s no way to know whether this is relevant, but as I’ve written before, the state Ethics Commission would find no problem with a member of the General Assembly pushing to use state taxpayer money to fund a politically helpful event secretly orchestrated by his son because everybody involved is acting in official government capacity.

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Political Football

Trump wins again.

On the largest sports and media stage in the world, several news outlets somehow got it into their heads that Brady’s sole responsibility wasn’t to concentrate on football and lead his team to a fifth Super Bowl title. No, he also had a moral responsibility to denounce his friend and golfing buddy, Donald Trump.

In their attempts to put Brady and the team on notice about their problematic friendship, the media somehow managed to convert former Patriots haters into fans. Because while few institutions are more hate-able than the Patriots, the media is definitely one of those institutions.

Obviously, we New Englanders don’t hate the Pats and it’s not our fault the rest of the country – or the NFL offices – can’t handle their success (but those of us who grew up as Yankee-haters do sorta get it!).

That being said, the week leading up to the Superbowl saw Brady, Belichick and Kraft join the ranks of other celebrities who have fallen afoul of the media moralizers.  “Spineless Feminist” Taylor Swift came in for criticism when she didn’t attend the Women’s March on Washington.  Fellow Diva Lady Gaga has now fallen afoul of the Progressive Prudes for not properly politicizing her Superbowl Halftime show. “[I]t’s disheartening to watch someone with so much heart (and guts and spleen) stare down a moment of this magnitude and blink.Twitter was full of lefty media types gloating over the Pats performance and correlating the blowout to their support for Trump.  Karma or something.  But then at least some of those tweets got deleted once the Pats won.

Here’s hoping things calm down soon. I don’t think we can take this amped up environment that politicizes everything.  Can we?

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Political Omissions in Worcester Story

For some reason the Providence Journal ran a minor story on a Worcester, Massachusetts, political incident.  In doing so, however, the paper spotlights a curious… let’s say… tic of the mainstream media:

Mayor Joseph M. Petty is now apologizing for remarks he made that, unbeknownst to him, were picked up by an open microphone at the beginning of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The remarks were unflattering observations about some of protesters attending the meeting. Earlier, there was a rally at City Hall attended by people unhappy with President Donald J. Trump’s immigration policy.

Funny — Don’t you think? — that the article doesn’t mention that Petty is a Democrat and the main voice speaking out against him, Michael T. Gaffney, although in a non-partisan seat, has been backed by Republicans.  Why do you suppose that is?  How do you suppose the reporting might have been different if it were a Republican mayor badmouthing a Tea Party group?

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And the Fake News Goes On and On

It looks like John Nolte has found a source of job security at The Daily Wire:

The original plan was to compile a list of the national media’s Fake News only as needed — but no more often than once a week. Unfortunately, our MSM has done so much lying in the last 5 days, I started to worry that I could lose track. Simply put, the last few days have been a fire hose of Fake News. Read everything below, and then try to make an argument that Steve Bannon isn’t 100% correct about the national media being the opposition party.

Locally, our ostensibly state-concerned major daily, The Providence Journal, has become like an anti-Trump pamphlet, not only in the wire stories it reprints, but also in the stories its own journalists pursue.  In doing so, the Projo is aiding local politicians in their strategy of putting Trump front and center as the latest reason Rhode Islanders shouldn’t look to closely at the mess our elected officials are making of the state.  Meanwhile, my impression mistaken, but it has seemed like the end of the anti-DePetro boycott of WPRO has caused a swing in the other direction, moving the station closer to being a platform for established interests.

We really need to develop a counter-balancing media environment.

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Moira Walsh: Crash-and-Burn? Or Shooting Star?

Walsh successfully ran for and won a RI House seat and subsequently received a glowing write up in The Atlantic for her waitress-fights-the-power story in which she detailed her single-mother, working-mom, working-class blues and activism as a union organizer. Honestly, she is a Progressive’s dream.

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Pundits Looking for Elusive Footing of Normalcy

Like everybody else who follows policy and politics, I’m still trying to figure out how to interpret the Trump administration.  I have to say, though, that I think a lot of established pundits on my side of the ideological field are getting something very wrong.  Here’s Jonah Goldberg, for example, writing about Trump’s executive order related to refugees:

If Trump had given agency professionals 30 days to review his order on refugees, he could have avoided the confusion at airports, not to mention the media hysteria and the protests. And if his communications team had been given time, they could have preempted some of the wild claims made by Democratic detractors.

I don’t believe this is accurate. If word of the deliberation had leaked — or if the policy had been discussed openly — we’d have had the same reaction, but without its being rooted to an actual order.  Opponents would have been able to warn of even more extreme possibilities, and moderation in the course of developing the policy would have been presented as hiding true, evil intentions, rather than error.

Then there’s John Podhoretz, talking during a Commentary podcast on Ricochet.  He warns that President Trump’s style and speed is galvanizing the Left, worrying, for instance, that no Democrats will be able to vote for Trump nominees, and the president won’t be able to peel Congressional Democrats away from their party for his policy initiatives.

Democrats may take that approach, but I’m not so sure it’s something that should frighten Republicans.  From where I stand in Rhode Island, waching the Far Left push the U.S. Senate’s most outrageous lefty, Sheldon Whitehouse, to be even more unreasonable, I don’t see how this can possibly be a majority-winner, especially this far out from an election

It seems like even conservative pundits want normality to apply in some way, but Obama, his party, and the news media have proven that the state of affairs we used to see as normality was just an illusion that served progressives’ ends.

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Governor Pitches Free College at High School 98% Not Proficient in Math

Ian Donnis of Rhode Island Public Radio noted, yesterday, that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo continues her inappropriate exploitation of government schools’ access to young Rhode Islanders for political purposes today.

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At Central Falls High School, a jaw-dropping 98% of students are not proficient in math and 93% are not proficient in reading, and Gina Raimondo is going there to pitch taking money from taxpayers to give away two years of free-to-students college.  She should be embarrassed, and if the public were adequately informed, she would meet an enraged auditorium rather than a laudatory one.

Will any journalists ask her about the apparent disconnect?

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Sleazy Raimondo Political Pitches to Under-Prepared Students Continue

Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo brought her gross pitching-politics-to-public-schoolers road show to Johnston Senior High School this week:

Gov. Gina Raimondo is out on the campaign trail, taking her pitch to high schools.

“You go from kindergarten to twelfth grade with public education. Why should it stop at twelfth grade?” Raimondo asked an auditorium of students at Johnston High School on Tuesday.

Afterward, she told reporters it is indeed a campaign to rally support for her plan to offer two free years of college tuition to Rhode Island high school graduates.

One wonders whether she believes it’s a positive or negative that the school has left her audience poorly equipped to assess the wisdom of her proposal.  More than 82% of Johnston Senior High School students are not proficient in math, and two-thirds miss the mark in reading.

Sadly, it isn’t clear that Rhode Island adults are very proficient in government ethics and simple good political taste.  Whether or not the governor’s political visits to government-run schools violate any campaign finance or ethics laws, this whole campaign is just unseemly.  The governor is using public schools to lobby our children on a politically charged policy proposal.  Just… yuck.

Shame on the school districts for allowing her to take advantage of their access like this, and shame on the parents for taking the abuse quietly.

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The Start of a Trail of Revelations About Obama Administration Deception

Surprise, surprise.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration used bad data to justify a policy attack on for-profit colleges:

In early January the department disclosed that it had discovered a “coding error” that incorrectly computed College Scorecard repayment rates—that is, the percentage of borrowers who haven’t defaulted and have repaid at least one dollar of their loan principal. The department says the error “led to the undercounting of some borrowers who had not reduced their loan balances by at least one dollar.”

The department played down the mistake, but the new average three-year repayment rate has declined by 20 percentage points to 46%.

Oops!  On the pretext of this information, the Obama administration forced only for-profit colleges to put warning notices on all of their promotional materials, while…

When proposing the regulation, the department claimed that its analysis of Scorecard data showed that a large number of for-profits have repayment rates below 50% while very few public or nonprofit schools do. The department said it would not be fair to “burden” public and nonprofit colleges with a regulation that would apply to so few. Yet based on the updated data, 60% of two-year public colleges and nearly all historically black institutions have repayment rates below 50%.

So was the bad data “alternative facts” or “fake news”?  Ah, never mind.  President Trump insists more people watched his inauguration than probably did.  That’s what’s important.

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We Should Want to Know What Elected Officials Really Think

Well, touché, Liberty RI!

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Considering whether to post this, I ultimately decided to do so partly for a chuckle, yes, but mostly to make the point that we shouldn’t want people in public office — particularly at the local and state levels — to feel as if every statement they make anywhere must be guarded and reviewed by a political consultant.

There’s no room for trust in a system in which there’s no chance people who disagree with you will tell you what they’re really thinking.  We can interact as human beings with whom we disagree when we give people some space for the slips of candor, but not when they can’t act like human beings.

Moreover, it’s to our benefit to know where people are coming from.  Along with the pervasive anti-man sentiment with which Representative Walsh peppers her Facebook posts are the outlines of an ideology.  Consider:

Yeah I’m single…but only because I can’t find a man who’s willing to spend all his free time lighting the fires of revolution that will burn capitalism to the ground.

Rhode Islanders looking for some understanding of legislators’ mindsets couldn’t find much better insight into at least one of them.  Walsh’s worldview appears to be that men are evil and that our electoral system (including the Electoral College) and economic system (capitalism) were explicitly designed to keep women down.  (Her appearance, today, on WPRO with Tara Granahan doesn’t do much, if anything, to mitigate this impression.)

I don’t see any dry land of sanity from which to begin arguing with an elected official who holds that view, but it’s definitely valuable to be aware of it.  It’s also valuable to have a system in which people who are willing to speak their minds don’t immediately dismiss the possibility of running for office.

By all means, respond to Sean Todd or Moira Walsh in public or in private, but I think we’ll find that running society on Outrage all the time lands us in a ditch.

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The Ideological MSM: Puff Pieces Versus Hit Jobs

Can we take a moment, during lunchtime to state the obvious for the benefit of those who might not see it?  If this article by Providence Journal reporter Kathy Gregg had been about a conservative grassroots movement, it would have been very different:

Groups locally and nationally are seeking to capitalize on the amalgam of energy, anger and fear that sent men and women by the thousands via car, bus, train and plane to Washington, D.C., and their home-state capitals to “make [their] voices heard.”

“Amalgam”?  If the politics were flipped, dark insinuations about funding would have played a major role in setting the tone.  As it is, Gregg doesn’t mention funding once.  A conservative-related article would also have included clearly dismissive statements attempting to make the whole thing seem like a partisan charade for the GOP.  In this case, Gregg doesn’t even bother to label far-left state Representative Aaron Regunberg as a Democrat.  The journalist would also have raised questions about how the talk of “love” and “tolerance” jibs with the vulgar and aggressive signs some were carrying.

But front and center would probably have been incidents at similar events across the country, like:

  • The man who hit a female conservative reporter in Canada.
  • The men who took signs from female pro-life marchers and mocked them while ripping them up.
  • The woman who lit a pro-Trump woman’s hair on fire in D.C.

The blatant double standard of discrediting people with whom journalists disagree, ideologically, while covering up for those who share their ideology is why people on the right don’t trust the news media.

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Surprise: Teachers’ Unions Are Just Political Activist Groups

I’ve written several times in the past that employee representation services are simply the fund raising mechanism for teachers’ unions’ real reason for being: progressive political activism.  Here’s Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner:

Promoting a “National Day of Action” on Thursday, the NEA said, “On Thursday, January 19, the day before Donald Trump assumes the presidency, thousands of students, parents, educators and community members from across the nation will hold rallies in front of school buildings to inclusively stand up for all students.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to represent their members enough to ensure that they stay members (with wide rivers of funding) at the expense of those whom progressives claim to support.  David Harsanyi in The Federalist:

… teachers unions are the only organizations in America that openly support segregated schools. In districts across the country — even ones in cities with some form of limited movement for kids — poor parents, most typically black or Hispanic, are forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools when there are good ones nearby, sometimes just blocks away.

The National Education Association spent $23 million last cycle alone working to elect politicians to keep low-income Americans right where they are. Public service unions use tax dollars to fund politicians who then turn around and vote for more funding. The worse the schools perform, the more money they demand. In the real world we call this racketeering.

It’s a travesty that teachers give these organizations a prominent, lucrative place in our government.

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Governor Takes Class Time from School with 10% Proficiency in Math to Pitch Free College

Not to belabor Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s free-tuition vote-buying scheme, but doesn’t this seem presumptuous and out of line:

Gov. Gina Raimondo brought her proposal to provide free tuition to students attending Rhode Island’s public colleges to a cheering crowd of juniors, seniors and faculty at Cranston High School East on Wednesday morning.

In keeping with every other news report I’ve seen, Providence Journal reporter G. Wayne Miller doesn’t say whether the governor made her remarks while appearing at the school for some other reason, and she shared the stage with a bunch of like-minded politicians, so it seems as if class time was simply being used for a political event and photo op.  Republican Mayor Allan Fung — a past and possibly future contender for governor — had to offer his views via press release.

One could see allowing the governor to explain her proposal in the context of a debate in front of the students, but something so even-handed and educational is apparently beyond the ken of Rhode Island public schools.  Instead, Rhode Islanders receive the spectacle of their governor sounding like a candidate for class president, promising that all grades will be on a curve and the cafeteria will bring back decent food.

In case you’re wondering, only 30% of Cranston East students are proficient in reading and 10% in math, which makes the event just about a perfect representation of the governor’s political strategy.  Her policies are geared toward and presented to people who stand to benefit directly, who lack the context or experience to understand the likely consequences, and many of whom can’t legally vote.

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An Administration That Looks Better After the Election

The ordinary course of events is for politicians and their campaign staffs to be all things to all people before the election and then, after they’ve won, to start disappointing people, typically those who most wanted them to do what they promised to do.  The Trump administration, in contrast, has been comforting those who worried that all pretense of policies to the right of political center were just for show.  William McGurn recently took the Wall Street Journal to point out more encouraging news from the Trump camp:

Kellyanne Conway has just upended another Washington convention. She did so when she agreed to speak at the annual March for Life, one week after Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

With this one gesture, Mrs. Conway steals some thunder from the celebrity-heavy Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration. She focuses attention on big changes ahead for abortion policy. She challenges the feminist trope that to be a woman is to be pro-choice.

Above all, she guarantees coverage of a march the press would prefer to ignore, and gets the New York Times to report that, having “made history” as “the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign,” Mrs. Conway will now make history again as “the first sitting White House official to address the annual march in person.”

I’ve seen multiple articles, from the Newport Daily News, the Providence Journal, and so on, about a handful of women from Rhode Island marching against Trump.  The presentation has been such that one would think they were traveling by the thousand to the Middle East to protest how women are treated there, rather than taking a brief trip south for a predictably fashionable cause.

It’d be nice if somebody at the state level would bring Conway-like attention to the pro-life march.  If only Rhode Island’s first female governor were Catholic or something.

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Obama’s Crocodile Tears for American Institutions

Kevin Williamson is must reading on Obama’s crocodile tears for American institutions:

If President Obama does not understand why our institutions and the common ground they once represented are in a shambles, he need not look very far for an explanation: He is a man of the Left, and the Left corrupts every institution it touches: the news media, the educational and academic institutions, the cultural institutions, professional organizations, government bureaucracies, everything from National Geographic to the English department at the University of Texas. This is not a case of “both sides do it” or an instance of a conservative polemicist simply fitting his political opponents for black hats. If you want to understand why Americans have so little faith in institutions that were once granite pillars of respectability, you must understand the Left’s coopting of them.

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Raimondo Insults Your Intelligence with College Plan

This morning, I noted that legislators are the only people in Rhode Island who can promise workers a 10% increase in pay without worrying about where the money will come from.  It just magically appears in their imaginations.  At noon, I suggested that Rhode Islanders should be embarrassed that their state is so dependent on federal government welfare.

The state government’s latest revenue and caseload conference estimated that the government’s revenue will fall $52 million from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2018.  And during the budget process, last year, the state expected that deficits would climb $40-60 million per year, hitting $333 million by 2021.

So how in the world does Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo state the following — and get away with it in G. Wayne Miller’s Providence Journal article — while promising the new $30 million expense of giving all Rhode Islanders two free years of college at a state institution?

We have the money. This is affordable. It’s a smart solution.

It’s a vote-buying giveaway pure and simple that counts on Rhode Islanders’ not noticing that they’re paying the bill.  It’s an insult to our intelligence.

Moreover, we should expect that the estimated cost is laughably low.  Given free tuition, more families will use the colleges and university, and the institutions will surely increase their tuition rates once the cost to the decision makers (students and their families) is zilch (or half-price, for four-year degrees).  And this doesn’t even get into the governor’s assumptions that people who have no financial skin in the game for their degrees will actually take their studies seriously and apply themselves and that those who do will stay in the state rather than taking their subsidized degrees to states that actually have healthy economies.

One can only hope that Rhode Islanders aren’t so far gone, at this point, that they fall for the governor’s snake oil sale.

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