- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2020

Rep. Ilhan Omar caused a social-media stir this week by promoting an article in which “the ethos behind the original G.I. Bill” was applied to legislation for all Americans.

The Minnesota Democrat elicited the ire of veterans and free-market supporters after sharing an AlterNet piece by Will Fischer — a Marine veteran — titled “A veteran explains why we need a new version of the G.I. Bill — for everyone.”

“Imagine what it would do for our country and those who live here if we were to take the ethos behind the original G.I. Bill and apply it to everybody — canceling all student debt and making public colleges, universities, and vocational schools tuition-free,” she tweeted Thursday, a direct quote from the piece. 

Critics pointed out that underlying costs will always be paid by individuals despite public officials offering “free” resources.

Similarly, veterans noted that their “free” G.I. Bill came at the cost of service to the nation, often with the physical and emotional scars of war.

The news aggregation website Twitchy consolidated some of the nearly 3,000 responses to Ms. Omar’s tweet. 

Critics said the following:

  • Chris Manning (verified account): “I’m a recipient of the GI Bill. The GI Bill was earned by agreeing to serve my country for six years and to put my life at risk as an infantryman in Afghanistan. It wasn’t something just given to me with nothing expected in return. Don’t cheapen our sacrifice w/ this comparison.”
  • Dennis Davis: “The ‘ethos’ meaning the whole concept of signing a blank check payable to the United States govt for up to & including your life should it be called of you and in exchange said govt upholds their end of the contract with benefits EARNED like the GI Bill…that ‘ethos’?”
  • Kash Jackson (verified account): “Imagine if people stop sending their kids to useless overly expensive schools that are only leftist indoctrination camps. Too many kids have been told to school for whatever they want rather than what will gain them prosperity once they’re out of school.”
  • Danny Ellis: “It would bankrupt the country and hurt the lenders of the money.  But, that’s what you want, more government dependency.”

The piece’s author, however, did not see an economic downside to erasing over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and then promising the entire nation subsidized higher education.

“The results would be astounding,” he wrote. “For starters, in a report from 2018, the Levy Institute found that student debt cancellation would result in boosting real GDP by an average of $86 billion to $108 billion per year, lowering unemployment, and increasing home-buying potential.”

“Representatives Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, and Senator Bernie Sanders have introduced legislation to cancel all student debt and to make public colleges, universities, and vocational schools tuition-free. These pieces of legislation just make sense—for our society and for our economy — and I strongly support them.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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