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Saturday, February 17, 2018
BEREA COLLEGE: Opinion: Trumpism for thee and not for me - firstname.lastname@example.org - Gmail
My column today is about a recurring phenomenon: Trumpism for thee and not for me.
President Trump and his congressional allies keep trying to protect their own constituents and allies from the agenda they’re putting in place for the rest of the country. It’s happened on offshore drilling, health care and taxes. And it’s a sign that Trump and congressional leaders know how unpopular their agenda is. They’re trying to protect their own supporters from it.
One of the stories I tell in the column is about Berea College, a small college in Kentucky that was the beneficiary of a special carve-out in last week’s spending bill. The carve-out exempts Berea from a tax on colleges with substantial endowments. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, went out of his way to protect Berea, the only college in Kentucky — the state he represents — that would have been subject to the tax.
I find this episode especially unfortunate because Congress could have used Berea’s example to pass a positive piece of education policy.
Berea is an inspiring place. It admits only lower-income students — more than 70 percent from Kentucky or greater Appalachia — and doesn’t charge them tuition. It requires that every student works at least 10 hours a week. The income from this work helps cover the students’ living expenses, and the average Berea graduate leaves with only about $6,700 in loans, the college president, Lyle Roelofs, told me.
Congressional Republicans protected Berea by adding a provision that said the tax applied only to tuition-charging institutions. (McConnell admitted that the purpose was to help Berea.) That makes for a nice bit of political advertising, but it’s actually false advertising. Even with the carve-out, the tax doesn’t help low-income students.
It hurts them — because it leaves the other colleges affected by the tax with less money to pay for financial aid. And those other colleges together enroll many times the number of low-income students that Berea does.
There was a better approach. Congress could have exempted from the tax any portion of an endowment that paid for financial aid. Doing so would have given Harvard, Stanford and other universities an incentive to enroll more middle-class and poor students — and would have spared Berea in the process. As an extra bonus for Republicans who enjoy angering liberals at elite universities, the kind of tax I’m describing still would have angered those universities. They don’t like being told how to spend their endowment.
Instead, Congress passed a sloppy tax bill that has no purpose other than punishing generously endowed universities that happen not to be located in the state of Kentucky. It’s just the latest step that Congress has taken to make college more expensive. And it’s another example of Trumpism-for-thee-and-not-for-me. You can read the column — and the other examples — here.
Speaking of hypocrisy ... The president lamenting a lack of due process for men accused of wrongdoing is certainly risible, as severalcommentatorsnoted. It also reflects a misunderstanding of due process, writes Christine Emba in The Washington Post. “The obligations of due process are that the government give the accused fair notice and a fair hearing, not that a person credibly accused of a crime should be allowed to keep their preferred employment for as long as they would like,” she writes.
Justice Department departure. My first reaction to the resignation of the No. 3 official at the Justice Department — Rachel Brand — was to wonder what she knew that the rest of us didn’t. In particular, was it a sign that Trump was thinking of firing Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 official, and then ordering Brand to fire Robert Mueller?
But Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall argues that there is no need for conspiracy theorizing. “She thinks the best thing for her career is to get out now. As a matter of self-interest, who can blame her,” he writes. Even if Brand doesn’t know much more than the public does, she may simply want to avoid the risk of being dragged into a constitutional crisis.