Martin Sheen as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet in "The West Wing".
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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul must be watching “The West Wing.”

Addressing a crowd of about 400 largely college students on the fourth day of his presidential roll-out, the Republican hopeful called for making college tuition tax deductible for all students — an idea first floated on the White House TV drama.

Responding to President Obama’s proposal to provide free community college to millions of eligible students, Paul said while it sounded good, taxpayers would be left on the hook.

“The president says, well, I just want to give you free college,” Paul said at the University of Iowa. “It sounds good at first, but think about it, how could it be free? Well, somebody still has to pay. Someone has to pay the professors, the electricity, the janitorial services. Somebody pays.”

“I have a better idea,” he continued. “Let’s let college students deduct the entire cost of their educations over their working careers. Let’s make college tuition entirely deductible.”

Paul offered no details how he would pay for the tax break or how it would work. A spokesman for Paul didn’t immediately respond to a request for details on the proposal.

Under current federal law only several thousand dollars of education spending is tax deductible per year, depending on income level.

On an episode of “The West Wing,” two advisors to fictional President Jed Barlet are stranded in Iowa when they meet a man touring colleges with his daughter who worries about making his tuition payments. “It should be a little easier—Just a little easier,” he told the presidential aides Toby Ziegler and Josh Lyman.

They aides huddle in a subsequent episode are having the simultaneous epiphany to make college tuition fully tax deductible, and struggle to devise pay-fors. On the show, they suggest closing a tax loophole for corporate bonuses.

Watch “The West Wing” clip below:


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