Campus Reform | AOC attacks Betsy DeVos for calling free college a 'socialist takeover of higher education;' conservatives react

AOC attacks Betsy DeVos for calling free college a 'socialist takeover of higher education;' conservatives react

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called free college policy a “socialist takeover of higher education."

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized DeVos, saying that the “far superior capitalist takeover of higher ed” instead graduates Americans “into low paying jobs without good healthcare.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called free college proposals a “socialist takeover of higher education,” drawing criticism from the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

During remarks at the 2020 Federal Student Aid virtual training conference, DeVos said that “too many politicians today” support policies that entice students into greater debt and put taxpayer dollars at greater risk.

She decried the notion of student debt cancellation as “government gift-giving.”

“The campaign for ‘free college’ is a matter of total government control,” DeVos asserted. “Make no mistake: it is a socialist takeover of higher education.”

In addressing school counselors, she explained that their jobs would become “rationing state-approved higher education options,” since “government doesn’t control anything only halfway.”

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DeVos explained that after the government has effectively monopolized student lending, $1.5 trillion of student debt has not made students or taxpayers better off.

She said that the American education system is still a “competitive marketplace that drives innovation and produces high-quality outcomes.” However, if free college programs are passed, DeVos said that universities would “begin to resemble a failing K-12 school, with the customer service of the DMV to boot.”

DeVos also asserted that it is unfair to ask the two-thirds of Americans who choose not to attend college, as well as the Americans who paid their student loan balances, to subsidize those who did not pay off their loans.

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DeVos's comments drew criticism from Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Tuition-free public college is a dangerous socialist takeover of higher ed, as opposed to the far superior capitalist takeover of higher ed, which reliably buries millions of Americans in trillions of dollars in debt & graduates them into low paying jobs without good healthcare,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

When asked whether higher education in the United States could be characterized as “capitalistic,” Harvard University Professor Harvey Mansfield told Campus Reform that “higher education in the United States, both public and private, is a product of the wealth and freedom of capitalism, but now, unhappily, much of it is devoted to promoting socialism.”

Charles Blahous of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center likewise told Campus Reform that “along with health care, the United States education system is among the markets most distorted by government policies shown to drive costs upward.”

He pointed Campus Reform toward an analysis indicating that “the principal effect of federal government policies over the last several decades has been to spur tuition increases and loan defaults.”

“This is not a story of capitalism run amok; it’s a story of counterproductive government interventions,” Blahous added.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft