Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) claimed federally-funded student loans were unconstitutional Wednesday, and then went on to suggest that doing things that were unconstitutional could lead down a "slippery slope" to an event like the Holocaust.
The exchange, captured by a tracker, began when an audience member at a town hall meeting asked him about his stance on student loans. He said he was for them. He then said that he could find nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says the "federal government should be involved with education" or "a shred of evidence that they've ever done anything, that giving students loans is a good idea."
"Not that it’s not a good idea to give students loans, it certainly is a good idea to give them loans," he clarified. "But if you can ignore the Constitution to do something good today, tomorrow you will be ignoring the Constitution to do something bad. You could. There are more people in our, in America today of German ancestry than any other... . The Holocaust that occurred in Germany -- how in the heck could that happen? And when you start down the wrong road, it can be a very slippery slope."
Bartlett is referring to the fact that the health care law eliminated federal guarantees for private lenders to lend to students, and made the federal government the lender.
A Bartlett spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bartlett apologized for the remark on Thursday. “While explaining my position on an important constitutional issue I regrettably used an extreme example as a comparison that was ill-advised and inappropriate. I should never use something as horrific as the Holocaust to make a political point, and I deeply apologize to anyone I may have offended,” he said in a statement.