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Sara Haines wouldn't let anyone forget she's an independent Wednesday morning on The View. The co-host dug in her heels during a discussion about free community college, which she insisted is a "hand out" that could be abused by families that can afford tuition. Haines' bad day got even worse when she attempted to separate the need for free school lunch from free tuition, an argument that earned her a sharp rebuke from Sunny Hostin, Joy Behar, and the rest of the panel.
Haines was quiet for the first few minutes of the morning — The View initially turned things over to guest co-host Cindy McCain, who gave her take on Biden's spending bill — but when it came time for her to speak, she didn't hold back. "One thing that Sen. Manchin's doing that I actually agree on is... one of the things he's talking about is the free community college tuition. He believes we don't need to make it free for everyone across the board; we should make that somewhat need-based," she said. "Because to hand out college to just everyone, you could lower that price tag by saying, 'If you prove you need it, then of course you can have it.' And I think those types of things make that the more moderate take to bring that price down."
When Behar argued that "most Democratic countries" in the world "have free college, period," Haines said that she "ideologically disagrees" with her co-host on this topic. "When you hand things out like that and there's nothing earned," she said, "The reason we test so low internationally is, there are countries that make you earn high school. You have to test into those schools."
"But Sara, you're implying that this country is a meritocracy," interrupted Hostin. "And it just simply isn't because of the history of racism in this country, the history of legacy in this country, the history of systemic racism. If this country were truly a meritocracy, then what you're saying makes sense. But it just doesn't make sense with the history of the country. This bill has been put forward to make the playing level just a little more even."
Haines once again advocated for more "nuances" (one of her favorite words) in the bill, such as adding funding for trade schools, a point on which everyone agreed. After some more back and forth, with Haines sticking to her position and the other co-hosts attempting to sway her, Behar compared the situation to a conservative woman on Fox News who spoke out against free and reduced school lunch. "It's the same argument," said Behar. "Give everybody a lunch—"
MANCHIN OPEN TO NEGOTIATING SOCIAL SPENDING BILL? After the West Virginia senator said he’s “not ruling out” spending over $1.5 trillion on Biden’s social spending bill, the co-hosts and guest co-host @cindymccain weigh in and discuss his take on community college tuition. pic.twitter.com/tQdTPbc1J9— The View (@TheView) October 6, 2021
"A lunch is different! Food is the most basic need," interrupted Haines. "Education is something that I think you should want to pursue and we should make it somewhat — it's one lane. It's not a one-size-fits-all."
"I think education is a human right, as well," said Hostin, earning a round of applause from the audience and nods of agreement from Behar and Whoopi Goldberg.
When Behar said that "according to your argument, only the kids who need the lunch should get the lunch," Haines accused her of "oversimplifying" her point. "If you ask me about the free lunch thing, I would actually say, 'Absolutely. All kids should get lunch in the school,'" she said. "When you're talking about advanced education — I'm not talking about elementary, pre-K, high school — as you start to specialize and you get older, I actually think it's not something for everyone. A lot of people I went to high school with, college was not the right choice. And I think when you start throwing taxpayer money into places that don't fit everyone, I think we should make it more based on need."
After nearly 10 full minutes of talking in circles, Goldberg finally sent the show to commercial, but not before throwing one final bit of shade at Haines. "I didn't go to college, and it worked out well for me," said the longtime moderator. "But the point is, give people the opportunity. And let them decide — let young people coming into the world decide if they want to do that. We're better off when we allow kids to make those kinds of choices with no barriers."
Elsewhere on The View... Cindy McCain dinged Nikki Haley for saying that the Republican Party needs Trump to succeed in the future. "This kind of rhetoric that takes place within the Republican Party and around the country, it's damaging. It's not just damaging to our party; it's damaging to democracy," she said. "We're trying to overcome January 6, which was devastating. And we're not going to do it with stuff like this. It's not going to happen.
When Behar asked McCain "what happened" to the GOP, the guest co-host insisted she's still a Republican, but she's "saddened" by the state of the party. "We deserve and need a two-party system that both function," she said. "And this is not functioning now at all."
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.