Everyone knows there's no such thing as a free lunch — let alone a free college education, something socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders champions regularly. Realists know that a so-called free college education for millions of students would mean that taxpayers would foot the bill and the massive tab would get tacked onto our already sky-high national debt, which is hovering around $21 trillion.
Knowing that Sanders' proposal of "free" tuition for all at community colleges and "free" four-year degrees at state colleges and universities for households earning less than $125,000 would cost at least $47 billion annually, a better solution for making college more affordable and reducing student loan debt — which surpassed $1.5 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve — would be to continue the types of beneficial fiscal policies implemented by Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration, including cutting taxes and burdensome regulations. These policies have already resulted in a robust economic environment, allowing the free market to flourish. And now that the business sector is thriving thanks to Trumponomics, more U.S.-based corporations can lend a helping hand to their employees seeking higher education.
Enter Walmart. The retailing giant is currently saving billions because of lowered taxes, thanks to the Republican-championed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The act reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and this week, Walmart announced a new employee benefit. The 1.4 million employees of Walmart and Sam's Club here in the U.S. will be eligible to go to college tuition-free.
America's largest employer will begin offering a free college education to all of its full- and part-time employees who've worked for the retailer for at least 90 days, via three partner colleges. Its workers can choose to get a two- or four-year degree — for only $1 — provided they seek a degree in business or supply-chain management. Not unlike what happened with the GI Bill, which offered veterans a college education in exchange for military service, Walmart is offering tuition-free degrees in exchange for paid employment in an effort to attract more workers.
It's a smart move, given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are 723,000 unfilled retail jobs in America today.
Thanks to President Trump's economic leadership, we're experiencing the lowest unemployment rate, 3.9 percent, in decades, which means job creators need to increase worker benefits to remain competitive. Now what if other American businesses offered similar tuition benefits? Millions of young Americans would work their way through college — instead of increasing the national debt and burdening taxpayers — and they'd graduate debt-free.
So instead of what we saw during the Obama years — when nearly 40 percent of graduates returned home to live with their parents or other family members because of crushing student loan debt and few job prospects — America's offspring could earn degrees and live independently while building equity in their respective careers, without having to pay down student loans forever.
Which scenario do you think would work best, another massive entitlement program or Trumponomics?
Come November, voters will get to choose.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.