Dick Armey: Texas University System Has Not Been Made Better by Federal Money
The aptly named Dick Armey is a real piece of work. As Think Progress noted, the former Speaker of the House turned Freedom Works astroturf teabagger leader came on Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker's new show on CNN and lied about the state of Texas benefiting from federal funding for higher education.
At one point, Spitzer asked Armey a series of questions about what he thinks the government should and should not be involved in funding to try to “add texture” to what the FreedomWorks chairman believes. During this question period, the CNN host asked Armey if he would “have the federal government pay for higher education?” Armey bluntly responded, “No, I would not.” He then went on to say that the university system of his home state of Texas has “not been made any better by federal money involvement. [...]
Armey’s claim that the “federal government’s involvement in education” hasn’t “benefited the students of America” is wildly false. [...]
Texas students are major benificiaries of this spending. Students in the state actually utilize federal student loans at a level above that of the average U.S. student. During the 2006-2007 school year, 83 percent of Texans utilized federal student loans, compared to 71 percent of Americans.
Spitzer did a good job of getting Dick Armey to lay out just what programs he and his corporate funded "Tea Party" would like to eliminate or drastically cut from federal government funding. Naturally military spending wasn't on the list, but Social Security privatization among a lot of other cuts to social programs were. These people like Dick Armey and his ilk aren't going to be happy until they turn us into a third world country with nothing but rich and poor. It was nice to see him get forced to lay out some specifics instead of just platitudes for once as he was in this interview, not that he was short on his usual platitudes as well as he answered. Big 'gubmit is evil, unless of course you privatize everything so it's used to just funnel money to your corporate funders and we need the "freedom" to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
That works our pretty well for folks like Dick Armey who aren't living on a shoestring and have a lot of large corporate interests making sure he's never going to be hurting or worrying about how he's going to feed his family or pay his bills. For the rest of us, not so much. I wonder if Dick Armey knows what the minimum wage is? My bet is he either doesn't know, or doesn't care just like the rest of these Republicans who are trying to con the working class into thinking care about anything but the interests of big business. The only "freedoms" a Dick Armey cares about are the "freedoms" for corporations to force Americans to compete with slave wages overseas while funneling our tax dollars to the wealthiest among us who pay his bills to help spread their propaganda.
Transcript below the fold via CNN.
SPITZER: No, no, no, not the big words like that, but the specific policies you talk about. I want to see if we can get a better understanding of it and sort of see if we agree or disagree on some basic stuff.
You're talking about a radical redefinition of what government does and doesn't do. Fair to say?
PARKER: ... about what government...
PARKER: ... to be...
ARMEY: Perhaps there was a radical redefinition of what government does and doesn't do a couple hundred years ago. They called it the Constitution of the United States
SPITZER: Right. OK.
ARMEY: And it was a Constitution that limited government out of deference to the rights of the individual to his liberty
What we're trying to do is restore government back to the vision of our nation that made us the greatest blessing in history of the world
SPITZER: I understand you see it that way. I'm not disagreeing with that. I just want to see if we can add texture to what this means
SPITZER: Because when I read -- and I have read a lot of the documents. Let me give you some specific programs and say, would you fund them, all right, things that people can relate to? Would you have had the federal government build the interstate highway system?
ARMEY: Absolutely. And you can find that in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations."
SPITZER: OK. All right. OK. Would you have had -- would you have the federal government pay for higher education? You're a university professor.
ARMEY: No, I would not
SPITZER: You would not have any funding, no government funding?
ARMEY: No. I don't think the federal government's involvement in higher education has benefited the students of America
ARMEY: Would you...
PARKER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let him finish that thought, if you don't mind...
ARMEY: Well, the federal government has the military academies, and it's an important thing. They should continue to do that
But the education of our young people should be under the jurisdiction and under the auspices of the state governments. The state of Texas has a great university system that has not been made any better by federal government involvement
SPITZER: So, you would rip out all money that goes to the universities and say let the states increase their taxes to pay for it?
ARMEY: Let the states manage the education of their young people
SPITZER: Let's continue.
Centers for Disease Control to help make sure we...
ARMEY: Centers for Disease Control left in the hands of the scientists is probably a very important thing
SPITZER: So you would eliminate it, the Centers for Disease Control?
ARMEY: No, I did not. I would leave it in the hands of the scientists and I would tell the politicians to butt out. Let real who have real expertise make scientific decisions, medical decisions. Let's not have a bunch of political mandates issued by people who don't even understand..
SPITZER: I don't think that is what CDC does.
OK, how about NIH, National Institutes for Health, does all the research?
ARMEY: I think again that is probably acceptable opportunity to do some good with the federal government's taxpayer dollars, if they have the discipline to leave the agency to do its job on a professional basis, rather than corrupting it.
SPITZER: How about NASA? You going to fund NASA?
ARMEY: Oh, absolutely I would fund NASA. And I sure as heck would keep it focused on its initial mission
SPITZER: Now, in your book, and in all the Tea Party stuff, they say we're not cutting defense
ARMEY: I think, again, you can rationalize every agency. There are efficiencies to be made in defense, as there...
SPITZER: But you're saying we're not -- so, I'm just trying to figure out where you're cutting.
ARMEY: Defense is stipulated in the Constitution as a legitimate, necessary duty of the federal government
SPITZER: So, where are you cutting?
ARMEY: How about we cut out a lot of nonsense like National Endowment for the Humanities and Arts? And how about getting rid of AmeriCorps, which is just obnoxious?
SPITZER: AmeriCorps, OK.
ARMEY: Even intellectually, it's an insult to the American people
ARMEY: How about you get rid of the Corporation for National Broadcasting in that very nominal party of the budget which is called discretionary spending, which I would probably call indiscretionary spending?
Lyndon Johnson's Great Society transformed the budget of the United States government from 85 percent discretionary, 15 percent mandatory, to just the reverse. Now your ability to cut spending and to make the trims that are necessary to restore the government to service in the lives of the people is made very difficult because of the dominance of...
PARKER: One thing we should point out is that the congressman is also an economist. This is not just a political stump speech here.
ARMEY: This government cannot grow the private sector of the economy by itself, growing larger. It's like you have got a 200-pound jockey that thinks, if I just eat more and gain myself to 210, the horse will be able to win the race...
SPITZER: I like that metaphor...
PARKER: It seems pretty simple. I mean, we clearly can't afford everything we have got. We can't -- we have got to stop spending somewhere...
ARMEY: I will tell you what. I will give today's retirees and today's working youth a more hard, fast commitment for Social Security.
I will say to every child in America, every working man and woman in this country, I will guarantee you, you will have Social Security just as you know it today, with the only change being a cost of living adjustment that is commensurate with the consumer price index for the rest of your life, if you choose to stay in it.
ARMEY: But I will also give you the right to choose to leave it.
SPITZER: But you're saying something very important that I don't think most people are picking up on. What you're doing is changing the escalator in Social Security in a way that many people agree with.
ARMEY: That's right. And I'll tell you what.
SPITZER: I happen to agree with that.
ARMEY: I'm going to just say to the American people, if you choose to...
SPITZER: You already said you're going to do one of them.
ARMEY: If you, as a free-born individual person, choose to say, I want to leave this mandatory government program, you're free to leave. You're free to say no to the government.