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When Washington bailed out the finance world more than a decade ago after the most recent financial collapse, the government set limits on CEO compensation. And they did it for a reason. Taxpayer bailouts should be used for saving jobs, not making corporate executives richer than they already are.
So, it's striking, by contrast, to see the Department of Education, which began dishing out $14 billion in bailout funds for the coronavirus pandemic for American universities this month, is not setting similar limits on how much university presidents get to pay themselves. And they pay themselves more than you might think -- a lot.
Columbia University, for example, is getting $12.8 million in bailout money, despite having an $11 billion endowment. The president of that school, a person called Lee Bollinger, makes more than $2 million dollars a year. In other words, Lee Bollinger is set to collect about one-sixth of the entire federal bailout.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- a school you probably haven't heard of and probably for good reason -- is getting $4.8 million dollars in bailout money, and amazingly, that's less than University President Shirley Ann Jackson pays herself every year. So perhaps, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos can deposit that money directly into her personal checking account -- might as well.
Universities are getting a bailout that young people could only dream of. Why? Because universities are one of the most powerful political interest groups in the nation and young people are not, and you're not.
The University of Michigan, which is a public school with more than $12 billion in the bank, still got a $25 million bailout. They plan to spend $8 million on their football coach this year. They're still going to lose to Ohio State, which got $45 million in bailout money. That school pays its coaching staff $11 million.
Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania, a school for kids on the Harvard waitlist, received $9.9 million. The president of UPenn, Amy Gutmann, makes nearly $3 million -- that's about a third of the entire bailout. If paying Amy Gutmann is such a priority, maybe the school could find that money in their $14.7 billion endowment.
We could go on and on and on. We could cite a dozen examples, in fact, a hundred examples. Young people in this country are the poorest group in this country, but the schools that pretend to educate them are the richest institutions we have. They are getting a bailout that young people could only dream of. Why?
Because universities are one of the most powerful political interest groups in the nation and young people are not, and you're not. And that's why the government is blowing billions giving them cash they don't need at the same time that you're wondering how to pay your mortgage.
Now, Harvard has announced it won't be taking bailout funds. Why? They spent a week being shamed in public over it because they have a $40 billion endowment.
But it shouldn't take shame for Harvard to do the right thing. They should be decent enough to do it. That's a pipe dream; they're not even close to decent.
But in the absence of their decency, we need better laws. Not a single cent ever should be spent making rich universities even richer. They do enough harm to this country.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on April 22, 2020.