As I write this column, it is
Sunday, November 5. Kerry Healey is in Haverhill battling
for her political life; Mitt Romney is in Arkansas.
Whether she wins or loses, I wonder how she will feel
about Mitts absence throughout her campaign. How
much would it have cost him to let her shine a little? To
make a deal with Christy Mihos? To make a few public
appearances on her behalf? It speaks to the character of
Romney that he cares so little about his own supporters
that he would abandon them to the Democratic partys
political agenda- just like Mitt abandoned his job to go
campaigning on their dime. But his admirers are legion.
And they just love to love him- no matter what he does.
Youve heard of a Jeffersonian Democrat; Mitts
a Clintonian Republican. His duped devotees remind
me of Marlon Brando from On the Waterfront. Mitt,
you get a title shot in a ballpark
What do we get?
A one-way ticket to Palookaville
You was our brother
Mitt, you shoulda looked out for us
good example of smoke and mirrors politics is
the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. Established in
2004 by Romney, it provides free tuition at a state
college or university to any Massachusetts high school
student who scores in the top 25% on the MCAS. It sounds
wonderful, but its not. Heres why:
Most people dont realize that state colleges and
universities are heavily subsidized, and they couldnt
last a year without financial assistance from the state,
which accounts for the wide disparity between the tuition
costs of public higher education and private colleges.
The system of financing public education in Massachusetts
operates with an odd loophole. The tuition that schools
collect every semester must be sent in to Boston, while
the schools get to keep the fees they charge. Remember
that under Romney, Massachusetts ranked 47th in
state spending per capita on higher education and was the
only state spending less on higher education than it was
ten years ago. With shrinking budgets the schools had to
do something, so they realized that if tuition isnt
called tuition, then it isnt tuition. They started
calling it a fee, a stratagem which has produced
Heres an example of how this plays out: A young
woman told me the following story: Being eligible for
free tuition, she applied to take an online course at
Bunker Hill Community College. The cost of the course was
$300, not including textbooks. After registering, she was
presented with a bill of $276. When she reminded them
that the bill must be a mistake because she qualified for
free tuition, they informed her that the
tuition for the course was $24, but the fees were $276.
(remember, the schools keep fees, but not tuition) The
cost of the course was $300, only $24 of which was
tuition. So she got 24 bucks from the Romney plan, which
paid for a half tank of gas and a cup of coffee.
For full-time college students, Mitts scholarship
is a band aid- with conditions attached. For example, the
average tuition in the University of Massachusetts system
is $1575. At UMass Amherst, students pay $7400 in fees
and $6200 for room and board. Figure about $1000 for
books and Romneys scholarship covers less than 10%
of an annual bill of 16 grand
and only for four
consecutive years and only if the students GPA
stays above 3.0. And Mitts piddling scholarship
doesnt count at Massachusetts College of Art or the
Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
So the problem is not rising tuition costs, but
skyrocketing fees, which Romney never addressed. Two
years ago, a bipartisan group that included business and
community leaders- the Massachusetts Senate Task Force on
Public Higher Education- found student charges
consistently among the highest in the country because of
insufficient funding. Who fills in the gaps in
funding? The students and their parents of course. No
wonder then, that an increasing number of Massachusetts
residents cant afford a college education, even at
a state college. Which brings us back to the Orwellian
question, so apropos for the Romney administration: Since
when is a fee not a tax?
Theres one good thing that comes from all this, but
it belongs to Romney: he can tell the nation of his
triumph in providing free tuition scholarships to college
students. No mention need be made of fees; the public wont
know any better. Mitt has already referred publicly to
his scholarship as unprecedented in the nation.
Mitt dances away from the messes he has made,
flip-flopping, casting platitudes, talking out of both
sides of his mouth. Hell be anything you want him
to be-until hes elected. Mitt Romney: a Clintonian
Republican for our times.
*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The November, 2006
Edition of the Valley Patriot
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