Why the Washington Post’s Attack on Bernie Sanders is Bunk

The Washington Post just ran an attack on Bernie Sanders that distorts not only what he’s
saying and seeking but also the basic choices that lie before the nation.  Sanders, writes the Post’s David Fahrenthold,
“is not just a big-spending liberal. And his agenda is not just about money. It’s
also about control.”

Fahrenthold claims Sanders’s plan for paying
for college with a tax on Wall Street trades would mean “colleges would run by
government rules.” 

Apparently Fahrenthold is unaware that three-quarters of
college students today attend public universities financed largely by state governments.
And even those who attend elite private universities benefit from federal tax
subsidies flowing to wealthy donors. (Meg Whitman’s recent $30 million donation
to Princeton, for example, is really $20 million from her plus an estimated $10
million she deducted from her taxable income.) Notwithstanding all this
government largesse, colleges aren’t “run by government rules.”

The real problem is too many young people still can’t afford a
college education. The move toward free public higher education that began in
the 1950s with the G.I. Bill and was extended in the 1960s by leading public
universities was reversed starting in the 1980s because of shrinking state
budgets. Tuition has skyrocketed in recent years as states slashed education spending. It’s time to resurrect that earlier goal.

Besides, the biggest threats to academic
freedom these days aren’t coming from government. They’re coming as conditions
attached to funding from billionaires and big corporations that’s increasing as public funding drops. 

When the Charles Koch
Foundation pledged $1.5 million to Florida State University’s economics
department, for example, it stipulated that
a Koch-appointed advisory committee would select professors and undertake
annual evaluations.  The Koch brothers now fund 350 programs at over 250
colleges and universities across America. You can bet that funding doesn’t
underwrite research on inequality and

Originally appeared at: http://robertreich.org/post/130312224165