Rethinking Rahm Emanuel's Mandatory Student Service

In 2006, Emanuel and Bruce Reed called for 3 months of service in their book.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

In 2006, former Clinton staffers Bruce Reed and Rahm Emanuel penned the book The Plan: Big Ideas for America, which among other things proposed that 18-to-25-year-old Americans do three months of mandatory civilian service for their country. "We certainly caught a lot of grief from the left and the right on that idea," Reed says. "But luckily, nobody has ever won a name-calling contest with Rahm." Now with his pal Emanuel in the White House as chief of staff, Reed has pinpointed an area where some sort of mandated service might work—in exchange for student aid. "If the government is going to be spending money on solving problems, should it be asking something of citizens in return?" asked Reed at a recent conference called by the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal. "If we're going to provide a lot of money for college aid, should we be saying, 'OK, you can borrow money from the government for as long as you want, you don't have to get a degree, just borrow it, we're fine,' or should we say, 'Look, this society owes you help to get ahead, but you owe something back'?"

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