Education Montana Politics

Perfectly Rehbergian Response to Pell Grants

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You certainly have to love the Montana media and Montana’s Congressman. The former never felt it necessary to cover the national news that Rehberg called Pell Grants welfare but decided he should get an op-ed in every newspaper defending his position, while the latter is pretending to be reforming Pell Grants when all he is doing is working to cut them, increasing college costs for students and families.

[pullquote]Rehberg’s not only “cash poor.” He’s sense deficient.[/pullquote]

Rehberg today in the IR, and all over the state in the past week:

That’s why I said that like welfare programs in the 1990s, the Pell Grant program itself is expanding so quickly it’s moving beyond the federal government’s ability to pay for it. And like welfare, it’s punishing good behavior, like getting good grades or a degree. This isn’t a problem caused by students, but it’s one that will hurt students if we don’t get it fixed.
It’s precisely because I support Pell Grants that I’m working so hard to address the real challenge of keeping them around. If we don’t act, the program will fail. In the face of a perfect storm of increasing tuition prices and expanded eligibility, we’ve got to make common-sense changes today, or face bigger challenges tomorrow.

If it wouldn’t be an incredible slight to good old George, I’d have to call that paragraph Orwellian. Rehberg’s not working to reform eligibility or ensure accountability in Pell grants; he is simply advocating reducing them because he thinks recipients are abusing the system. This may be surprising to the cash-poor Congressman, but not every Montana family can afford to save enough for college and Pell grants have been a historically powerful tool for helping people break out of poverty and into opportunity.

Don’t let Mr. Rehberg fool you. He’s working against Montana families, over 20,000 of them annually—at the same time he’s voting for subsidizing oil companies that recorded billion dollar profits last quarter alone. In Mr. Rehberg’s world, poor Exxon, who recorded $10.7 billion in profits last quarter alone, is less deserving of scrutiny and cutbacks than a college kid trying to make a better life for herself and her family.

Rehberg’s not only “cash poor.” He’s sense deficient.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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