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August 23, 2013 10:09 AM Marco Rubio’s Slippery Slope

By Ed Kilgore

Looking through the initial Republican objections to the president’s college cost initiative, I was amused to see this quote from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), via The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann:

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said: “I’m strongly opposed to his plan to impose new federal standards on higher education institutions. This is a slippery slope, and one that ends with the private sector inevitably giving up more of its freedom to innovate and take risks. The U.S. did not create the best higher education system in the world by using standards set by Washington bureaucrats.”

This is an interesting take in general, insofar as it conflates data with “standards” and shifts the issue from accountability for use of federal subsidies to some sort of vague “freedom to innovate and take risks.” But while “slippery slope” arguments are a familiar part of the the conservative rhetorical arsenal, users and abusers of this tactic do not typically announce it by using the phrase “a slippery slope,” alerting you to their efforts to change the focus from the subject at hand to its theoretically lurid long-term consequences if this or that happens or doesn’t happen down the road.

Betcha Ted Cruz wouldn’t make this mistake.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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