Three years after Mitt Romney condemned public benefits as “free stuff,” Republican strategists have advised 2016 candidates to be more thoughtful with their choice of words. It’s not going well.
Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Bobby Jindal have each taken a turn recently, blasting progressive governance for offering “free stuff” – a list of luxuries that includes access to affordable medical care and a college education.
But leave it to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to take this entire line of thought to a new level. BuzzFeed reported today:
Rand Paul says young people should treat offers of free college like heroin.The Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky senator made the comments on Friday to Iowa radio host Jeff Angelos, arguing that America’s youth should think about “what is free and what is a drug, an addicting drug like heroin.”
It’s admittedly hard to believe, but the audio is pretty clear. “If someone offers you something for free, treat it as if they’re offering you heroin and think about the repercussions of what is free and what is a drug, an addicting drug like heroin and the ramifications of that,” the Kentucky senator said. “There’s nothing free. It just means somebody else is gonna pay for it, you don’t see them. So the plumber, the welder, the carpenter, the people who don’t go to college are being asked to pay for your education.”
Maybe in some future debate, someone can press the GOP lawmaker on the scope of this approach to policymaking. For example, would Rand Paul draw a parallel between local police/fire/rescue and heroin, too?
Sure, these emergency services seem free – a benefit offered to all Americans, just as part of modern society – but “there’s nothing free” and “somebody is gonna pay” for those police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs.
Are public highways like heroin? How about public libraries?
Which public services, common in Western societies around the planet, are akin to illicit drugs from Rand Paul’s perspective?