July 30, 2004

Tom Ridge Is Leaving the Administration

A nice catch from Jeffrey Dubner of The American Prospect. Tom Ridge is not leaving the administration to spend more time with his family; he is leaving the administration to spend more money on his family:

TAPPED: July 2004 Archives: STANDARD OF LIVING. I've got no speculation as to the reason Tom Ridge has made it public that he's likely to step down from his post as Secretary of Homeland Security after the November election. But the given explanation seems a bit off-message for the Bush-Cheney reelect campaign:

Ridge, 58, has explained to colleagues that he needs to earn money to comfortably put his two children, Tommy Jr. and Lesley, through college, officials said. Both are now teenagers. Ridge earns $175,700 a year as a Cabinet secretary.

Ridge doesn't need to spend more time with his family -- he just needs to spend more money on his family. Even Ridge's salary, which on its own puts his family among the top 5 percent of household incomes, isn't enough to pay for college. So much for the idea that families would "start to see some relief on the tuition front."

Posted by DeLong at July 30, 2004 02:03 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

It's certainly true that tuition is out the roof. If Ridge earns $175,700, his take-home pay is probably around $115,000 - $120,000. Two children in college could use up more than half of his take-home pay. But, is it right to blame Bush?

E.g., there is a well-paid Economics Professor whose workload is light enough so that he has time to publish an outstanding blog. I have read that today's professors typically teach around 1.5 courses per semester. (My professor-wife teaches only one course per year.) If professors taught 3 courses per semester, tuition could be cut nearly in half.

I was an Adjunct Professor of mathematics last year, receiving $2400 for teaching a course. If adjuncts were widely used, tuition could be cut to fraction of what it is.

The point is, the outrageous cost of college is the responsibility of the colleges.

Posted by: David on July 30, 2004 02:36 PM

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Cynicism alert!

If Ridge were leaving to spend more time with his family, we and the press would guffaw, just certain he was being shown the door. If he is instead grasping after money (but in a good cause, so we all sympathize with him), then his resignation story passes muster.

Then Rudy can be called in. Rudy is a Northeast Republican, which means his position on the political spectrum is much closer to that of most undecided voters than the majority of the Bush administration. He is among the most famous and well-regarded public figures of recent years. He seems vaguely like he should be the right guy for the job, given what he has been through, even though his strong suit is actually putting mobsters behind bars. As a lawyer with a good bit of charm and a sharp tongue, he might be just the guy to take shots at Edwards. Better than Cheney, anyhow.

Ridge not leaving till November? Not a problem. Homeland Security, you see, is too important a job to let it go vacant. We have to trot Rudy around Capitol Hill and the White House, in full view of TV cameras, as soon as possible, to see that the transition is well planned and seamless. So there will be plenty of opportunity to keep Rudy in the public eye (notice him commenting on the Dem Convention this week?), without giving the impression that he is shirking his duties. They are, after all, not his duties yet, and c'mon, we're trotting him all of Washington to make sure this transition is really smooth, that's all.

Posted by: kharris on July 30, 2004 02:51 PM

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...and getting a potention change in the Cabinet into the news mix could steal some time on the weekend talk shows from the Convention post-mortem, thereby killing off as much of Kerry's convention bounce as possible. Got the Pakistan announcement of a "major" al-Qaeda arrest just ahead of Kerry's acceptance speech, just as planned, didn't we?

Posted by: kharris on July 30, 2004 02:56 PM

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Back when I was in PA, Tom was a friend of the family. As human beings, the two of them (his wife, also) are really nice people. When he was finishing out his term as Gov, it was widely known in PA political circles that he wanted to move on into the private sector, for exactly the reason cited - so it's not a strange reason.

The bringing in of Rudi post is a true insight, but it won't help that much - Rudi is too brusque, too easy to bait (it happened all the time when he was Mayor - ask the press). Please remember that he had completely self-destructed prior to 9/11, and he's more than capable of doing it again in a very short time. If the convention turns out to be anything like it's feared, as far as police riot is concerned, Rudi will take the blame, not Bloomberg.

Posted by: harry on July 30, 2004 03:45 PM

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You'll notice that Ridge is assuming that he can easily find a job that pays more than $175,00 a year. In fact, he probably already has one waiting. How much more money does it take to send two children to college? Lots of people do it on half his salary. Is this college expense or just plain old greed? More probably, it's his mortgage on his McMansion that's the problem.

His "poor me" message timing probably couldn't have been worse, considering the DNC messages about the overworked and overstretched middle class still resonating in our ears. (Although I seem to remember a North Carolina congressman who said several years ago that middle class meant up to $300,000 year.)

Posted by: mjo on July 30, 2004 05:37 PM

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May we know what Mr. Ridge's salary was as Governor of Pennsylvania?

May we know what Mr. Ridge's salary was as EX-Governor of Pennsylvania?

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on July 30, 2004 06:01 PM

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Salary as Governor - $138,270, plus house (in Harrisburg, not Erie, which is were he lived prior), car, driver, etc.

He went directly from Governor to HSA - left office in PA a year early at W's request, something he probably regrets (although he'll never admit it in public). So, no EX-Gov salary except at US government expense.

Posted by: harry on July 30, 2004 06:15 PM

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How do you expect college tuition prices to change given the bizarre way in which they are currently set up?
Look, I'm a lot more sympathetic to socialist/democrat values than GOP values, but the reality is that high-end tuition in the US does seem to be constructed on the basis of "from each according to his ability to pay". That appears like a fine thing, except that the end result is that there appears to be no real lobby working to prevent ever-rising tuition costs.

As example of what I mean, we have colleges that are providing their students with napster subscriptions, or with ipods. Give me a freaking break. These are not gifts that magically appear for free --- these are $500 add-ons to the cost of tuition --- and for what? If I or any other student want to listen to music, or use a small hard drive to carry around data or whatever, surely I can do what students to is other countries around the world --- make my own decision, based on my own budget, as to what to buy?

Posted by: Maynard Handley on July 30, 2004 07:09 PM

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Maybe he just needs to "put food on his family."

Posted by: Randy Paul on July 30, 2004 08:22 PM

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This is a perfect example of why nobody should pay any attention to The American Prospect. "Even Ridge's salary, which on its own puts his family among the top 5 percent of household incomes, isn't enough to pay for college."

He didn't say he couldn't pay for college. The man can make oodles of dollars elsewhere, and he wants to live in the style to which he's become (or to wh/ he'd like to become accustomed). It has nothing - NOTHING - to do with whether he could afford to "pay for college."

The AM was just being cute and stupid - as always.

Posted by: bull on July 30, 2004 08:40 PM

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I saw this elsewhere and would post a link to it if I could recall its location ...

At any rate, how DAMN patriotic of Big Boy Tom. "I'd love to help save America from the worst threat it has ever faced, but I also would like a nicer car. So long, write if you find Osama -- and good luck!"

What a bunch of patriotism.

Posted by: WarblogTHIS on July 30, 2004 09:28 PM

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Mr. Ridge is apparently unfamiliar with the various programs our armed forces offer which enable young people to put thousands of dollars away for college when they enlist for a few years.

Posted by: Kuas on July 30, 2004 09:52 PM

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"Mr. Ridge is apparently unfamiliar with the various programs our armed forces offer which enable young people to put thousands of dollars away for college when they enlist for a few years.
Posted by Kuas at July 30, 2004 09:52 PM"

I guess Kuas is not aware of the pact (complete with secret handshake) among Bush appointees that none of them will ever let their children near those dangerous armed forces where they might actually get killed or wounded like the children of the people who have to think about college with a family income of $50K per year.

Posted by: ____league on July 30, 2004 10:32 PM

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While Rudy Giuliani would, IMHO, make a good Secretary of Homeland Security, the probability of his getting the job is zero.

1. He's a pro- choice Catholic. Bring him into the limelight and you lose the ability to try to excommunicate Kerry.

2. Nobody gets into the Bush cabinet who is not totally, completely, absolutely loyal to Bush, and agrees absolutely 100% with everything that Bush ever said or ever will say. To put it mildly, that ain't Rudy.

Posted by: lightning on July 30, 2004 11:45 PM

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No comment from Ridge: http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=2112588&nav=0s3dPN0N

"Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge says speculation about his future is an 'inside-the-Beltway game' that he won't play....

Ridge said after a meeting Friday in Miami that he won't comment on the report. Ridge says he has a job to do and will talk with Bush after the president is re-elected."

Posted by: David on July 31, 2004 06:40 AM

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Ridge would be well advised to vote for Kerry, who will give him a tax deduction for those massive college tuitions.

Posted by: Bob H on July 31, 2004 08:27 AM

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Question from a Canadian -- I assume we're talking about tuition fees at private institutions (e.g. $25,000/year at MIT). Aren't there any reputable public universities in the US? How much do they charge?

University fees in Canada have risen sharply over the last few years, but they're still only about $5000/year. (Unfortunately, they charge much higher fees for non-residents.)

Posted by: Russil Wvong on July 31, 2004 03:28 PM

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He doesn't want his kids to have to take out loans and stuff. Roy Neel--of Gore's staff and later Howard Dean's campaign manager--made the same decision when he decided to become a telecommunications lobbyist.

Not just restricted to the GOP.

Posted by: Abby on August 1, 2004 07:37 PM

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It sure must be satisfying [for this guy] to look down at all the plebians at the end of a long day. If only I had the choices that his daughters [will] have; I had to pay my own way through school--loans and all. I'll be sure to shed a gentle tear for them if they have to "settle" for Yale due to financial reasons.

Posted by: Jason on August 2, 2004 12:01 PM

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For cripes sake, like didn't he ever hear of putting money away in a "college fund"! No sympathy coming from here....I wonder how he would like worrying where he would get money for the next vehicle he needed to get to work. Walk in the middle class shoes for awhile then start whining poverty!

Posted by: pissed on August 2, 2004 08:07 PM

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For cripes sake, like didn't he ever hear of putting money away in a "college fund"! No sympathy coming from here....I wonder how he would like worrying where he would get money for the next vehicle he needed to get to work. Walk in the middle class shoes for awhile then start whining poverty!

Posted by: pissed on August 2, 2004 08:07 PM

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For cripes sake, like didn't he ever hear of putting money away in a "college fund"! No sympathy coming from here....I wonder how he would like worrying where he would get money for the next vehicle he needed to get to work. Walk in the middle class shoes for awhile then start whining poverty!

Posted by: pissed on August 2, 2004 08:07 PM

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Tom Ridge is a standup man and in response to Jason's comments above he has a son and a daughter, not two daughters and neither go to Yale! They are a down to earth family, do some research

Posted by: frank smith on August 2, 2004 08:31 PM

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