In his national address last week, President Joe Biden touted the virtues of making universal pre-K and two years of community college available to families. Evidently, one of his Senate Republican detractors flubbed the details of the White House’s plan.
Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn tried Wednesday to portray President Joe Biden’s new $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal as an “anti-family” initiative that would reduce Americans’ control over their own lives. “Three-year-old pre-K: they’re going to mandate this. Two years of college whether you like it or not. These are the things that take away choices from the American people,” Blackburn said in an interview on Fox Business.
Just so we’re clear, the senator’s claims were the opposite the truth. The White House’s proposal is to make these educational benefits available, but not to make them mandatory. Under the president’s plan, young adults who want to go to a community college for two years would be able to, without having to worry about tuition costs, but no one would be required to enroll.
The Tennessee Republican’s office told CNN, “As happens on live TV, she misspoke.” As someone who’s garbled a few lines during television appearances, I’m sympathetic to such verbal missteps.
But as a rule, people misspeak when they say “million,” when they meant “billion.” Or perhaps referencing “Iran,” when they meant “Iraq.” It’s a little tougher to say it was a slip of the tongue when a senator tells a national television audience, “Three-year-old pre-K: they’re going to mandate this. Two years of college whether you like it or not. These are the things that take away choices from the American people.”
That seems like more of a false argument than an example of misspeaking.
Complicating matters a bit, Blackburn published a tweet featuring her on-air appearance, including the false claim, and as of this morning, that tweet has not been removed.
Nevertheless, I’m glad the senator’s office has acknowledged the error. But if you get an email from your angry uncle who consumes conservative media all day, claiming that Biden plans to impose new, mandatory educational opportunities, alongside his made-up plans to ban hamburgers and buy a thousands of copies of Kamala Harris’ children’s book, at least you’ll know why.