Saratoga Springs, Utah mayor and current Congressional candidate Mia Love netted a prime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa two weeks ago, raising her profile to a national level. But her unscripted appearance on Fox News Sunday indicates that her policy chops are not quite ready for prime time, even under host Chris Wallace's gentle questioning.
First, Wallace asked her about her spending plan, which includes halving nutritional assistance for the poor ($53 billion, according to Wallace), ending all college tuition assistance, including Pell grants and subsidized student loans ($33 billion, according to Wallace), ending federal spending on K-12 education ($53 billion, according to Wallace, and even ending block grants to local police departments. Her response was, initially, to edge away from her own plan by saying, "First of all, that program I put out so that we can start a discussion, I haven't set anything in stone."
But in response to a follow-up questions for Wallace about ending all federal college assistance, she stated, "We're trying to see how much debt we can actually give people and the option I'd like to look at is bringing the cost of tuition down, so that we give more people the opportunity for higher education."
When asked to explain how the federal government could force colleges to lower tuition costs, Love had few practical answers. "Well," she said, "because federal government has just drowned out the private sector, we've got to do everything that we can because the price of tuition has gone up over 500 percent since the eighties. If you think about it now, there are people that can't go to college today because the price of tuition is way to high unless they are completely indebted. And so what we have to do is, we can bring some of these things to the state level, we can start letting the private sector come in and compete, and I think that those will help drive the price of tuition down."
Research shows that for-profit colleges charge on average more than non-profit schools with significantly poorer results for their student populations. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found in a July 2012 report that students who took out colleges loans from for-profit lenders paid higher interest rates and had fewer repayment options -- and yet many did not even max out their federal student loan eligibility before taking on private loans.
In response to questions from Wallace on the perception that her party is waging a war on women, Love suggested that it's Obama who is the main culprit. "Well, think about this," she told Wallace, "Under President Obama I think women have suffered a little bit more. If you think about, 5.7 woman are out of work, we've gone for 7 percent unemployment to 7.8 percent unemployment." To illustrate her point about unemployment, she followed up with, "I would like federal government to let me keep a little bit of my own money so I can pay for my own contraceptives if I want to."
The contraception mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act now referred to even by Democrats as Obamacare, requires private insurers to offer contraceptive coverage without a co-pay.
Asked to explain her position on the contraceptive mandate more thoroughly, Love struggled to reconcile her ideology of less government interference with a federal ban on abortion. "Well, again, to me it's about choice," she said. "And I want more free choice, more liberties than anything else. And so I think that federal government trying to bring this so-called 'war on women,' I think it's just a way to distract from the fact that they're not talking about their failed policies."
Getting more specific on abortion, Love told Wallace, "Well, the role that government does play is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I think that we should be protecting life. I am a pro-life person."
But then she had difficulty when she tried to get more specific. "I believe that you have more choices before somebody ends up getting pregnant," she said, "And I think it's important that we're able to have the freedom to exercise that choice and it's up to you how you want to do that." Returning to the party's talking points, she added, "But I don't think that we should be getting into the weeds on all of this because I think that these are things that we teach in my own home, these are things that are private, we should just focus on the economy and what's happening with the economy."
Watch the video, which first aired on Fox News on September 9, 2012, below: