U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) suggested on Saturday that students were taking out loans because "college is fun."
While speaking to a group of constituents at a town hall event in Verona, Johnson was asked about the high cost of higher education.
Johnson said that he had been trying "to make the point that a lot of government's well intentioned programs have a very negative unintended consequence."
"Starting about mid-60s, one year of college cost about $1,000," he explained. "Had the cost of college just increased by the rate of inflation, today, one year of college should cost a little over $7,000. But instead, it costs over $18,000."
According to Johnson, the cost of college sky-rocketed because "the federal government got involved."
"It threw money at the problem," he declared. "It also created a bunch of band-aids. You know, regulations also drives up the cost. So we have not only given hundreds of billions of dollars worth of grant money... but we have also enticed our children -- by subsidising loans -- we've enticed them to incur $1.3 trillion worth of debt."
After diverging for a moment to slam the government's role in health care, Johnson returned to the topic of student aid.
"People don't care what it costs," he opined. "And also, when it's pretty easy to get a federal loan, college is fun."
"When I went to college I wanted to get out so I worked full time," the Wisconsin Republican continued. "I wanted to get out, I was spending my own money to get that education. I didn't want to linger in college."
Johnson pointed out that it now took five to six years on average to graduate from college with a four-year degree.
"Why is that? I would argue that loans are actually pretty easy to get, and college is a lot of fun," he quipped. "I know that all three of my kids went to Madison and they had a really good time, particularly that first year of college."
Watch the video below from American Bridge.
(h/t: The Hill)