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George Will: Obama's Budget Follies


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A good little smackdown of Congress taking away the DC Voucher program, to save a whopping 15 million dollars

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/22/AR2009042203089.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Obama's Budget Follies

By George F. Will

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Monday morning the government braced for austerity, as the government understands that. Having sent Congress a $3.5 trillion budget, the president signaled in advance -- perhaps so his Cabinet members could steel themselves for the new asceticism -- that at the first meeting of his Cabinet he would direct the 15 heads of departments to find economies totaling $100 million, which is about 13 minutes of federal spending, and 0.0029 percent -- about a quarter of one-hundredth of 1 percent -- of $3.5 trillion.

If the Agriculture Department sliced the entire $100 million, that would be equal to 0.1 percent of its fiscal 2008 budget. The president, peering from beneath his green eyeshade at the secretary of agriculture, might remember this from The Post of Jan. 24:

"Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack . . . learned that his new workplace contains a post office, fitness centers, cafeterias and 6,900 employees. But he remained uncertain about exactly how many employees he supervises nationwide. 'I asked how many employees work at USDA, and nobody really knows,' he said."

The president's $100 million edict actually suggests an insufficiency in the river of federal assistance flowing out of Washington to the deserving poor, as that category is currently understood: incompetent car companies, reckless insurance companies, mismanaged banks, profligate state governments, etc. But political satirists, too, deserve a bailout from a federal government that has turned their material into public policy.

The president has set an example for his Cabinet. He has ladled a trillion or so dollars ("or so" is today's shorthand for "give or take a few hundreds of billions") hither and yon, but while ladling he has, or thinks he has, saved about $15 million by killing, or trying to kill, a tiny program that this year is enabling about 1,715 D.C. children (90 percent black, 9 percent Hispanic) to escape from the District's failing public schools and enroll in private schools.

The District's mayor and school superintendent support the program. But the president has vowed to kill programs that "don't work." He has looked high and low and -- lo and behold -- has found one. By uncanny coincidence, it is detested by the teachers unions that gave approximately four times $15 million to Democratic candidates and liberal causes last year.

Not content with seeing the program set to die after the 2009-10 school year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan (former head of Chicago's school system, which never enrolled an Obama child) gratuitously dashed even the limited hopes of another 200 children and their parents. Duncan, who has sensibly chosen to live with his wife and two children in Virginia rather than in the District, rescinded the scholarships already awarded to those children for the final year of the program, beginning in September. He was, you understand, thinking only of the children and their parents: He would spare them the turmoil of being forced by, well, Duncan and other Democrats to return to terrible public schools after a tantalizing one-year taste of something better. Call that compassionate liberalism.

After Congress debated the program, the Education Department released -- on a Friday afternoon, a news cemetery -- a congressionally mandated study showing that, measured by student improvement and parental satisfaction, the District's program works. The department could not suppress the Heritage Foundation's report that 38 percent of members of Congress sent or are sending their children to private schools.

The Senate voted 58 to 39 to kill the program. Heritage reports that if the senators who have exercised their ability to choose private schools had voted to continue the program that allows less-privileged parents to make that choice for their children, the program would have been preserved.

As the president and his party's legislators are forcing minority children back into public schools, the doors of which would never be darkened by the president's or legislators' children, remember this: We have seen a version of this shabby act before. One reason conservatism came to power in the 1980s was that in the 1970s liberals advertised their hypocrisy by supporting forced busing of other people's children to schools the liberals' children did not attend.

This issue will be back. In a few months, the appropriation bill for the District will come to the floor of the House of Representatives, at which point there will be a furious fight for the children's interests. Then we will learn whether the president and his congressional allies are capable of embarrassment. On the evidence so far, they are not.

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i kinda woulda figured you'd stay away from the will article on the post and woulda put the slate article up about the young republicans for environmentalism.

:whoknows: what it has to do with the thread

This taking away DC vouchers thing is such low hanging fruit for me. I'd be stupid not to hammer liberals on it :)

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So welfare for people to go to private schools is ok..but welfare for food items or health insurance isn't?

Got it.

The cost benefit of this program is through the roof

7k per year per child vs 25k per year per child, with far superior results

Come on man, its not even a question

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The unfortunate thing in my mind, and I was a teacher many many years ago, is that nothing can disrupt or alter the stranglehold that the teachers union has in this country. They don't want change if it comes in the form of competition. Unfortunately they may be the most influential union in the land and basically own the votes of much of DC. I would love some legit reform but I remember thinking back in my mid-twenties that it will never allow reform or competition. That's why it stinks on ice.

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Notice no-one challenged his points though. wonder why?

Hey SS - I assume you would be against it as well since you are against all government spending not in the Constitution... correct?

Also - How about state rights and letting DC decide or not.

George Will lost all credibility with his no jeans article. Stupidest thing I had ever read....

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So welfare for people to go to private schools is ok..but welfare for food items or health insurance isn't?

Got it.

It's not welfare (unless you count public funding for education welfare). Better education for a third of the cost is fiscal responsibility. As I understand it, the reason the unions are upset is because less students will go to their schools. Less students equals less funding. So, I am left to infer that the money won't be spent on top of the $20 k or so per student given annually to the district , but in lieu of it.

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It's not welfare (unless you count public funding for education welfare). Better education for a third of the cost is fiscal responsibility. As I understand it, the reason the unions are upset is because less students will go to their schools. Less students equals less funding. So, I am left to infer that the money won't be spent on top of the $20 k or so per student given annually to the district , but in lieu of it.

Welfare might be too harsh. However, its close to it as you are going to get without actually being it.

As an aside...why would the government want to send kids to a private schools in which they cannot regulate?

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Hey SS - I assume you would be against it as well since you are against all government spending not in the Constitution... correct?

Also - How about state rights and letting DC decide or not.

George Will lost all credibility with his no jeans article. Stupidest thing I had ever read....

I can't speak for SS, but as far as I'm concerned, this is the one time Congress has the right to spend money on education:

Article I, Section 8

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States...

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings

Since this is in D.C., I have no problem with it. If it were to become a state, I would have issues.

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Welfare might be too harsh. However, its close to it as you are going to get without actually being it.

As an aside...why would the government want to send kids to a private schools in which they cannot regulate?

It's not welfare. It's redirecting funds from one failing program to a successful one doing a better job for less money. We should be applauding the government actually saving money and getting a better product.

As far as I know, the program was only for tuition to certain partner schools in the D.C. area. The government could disallow tuition payments to a school that was not "acceptable" in terms of what it was teaching.

Regardless, if the D.C. schools are doing as bad as it seems, then "regulation" isn't really helping educate these kids anyway.

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As for regulation - am I wrong in the assumption that private schools can still hire teachers without credentials or licenses?

From a quick search, I believe that you are mistaken. From the Washington Post

Washington D.C. Teacher Certification Definitions

By Kathleen Brill

Special to washingtonpost.com

Friday, July 23, 2004; 11:20 AM

Teachers in D.C. schools may have a provisional or standard license.

Provisional License

This three-year nonrenewable license may be issued to individuals who have not completed all the requirements for a standard license and are being employed in the D.C. Public Schools or any other educational agency in the district.

Standard License

This five-year renewable license may be issued to individuals who have completed all requirements for a specific teaching and service provider licenses, including academic coursework and appropriate assessments.

Professional License

This five-year renewable license may be issued to teachers or service providers employed with D.C. Public Schools after obtaining a standard license and acquiring permanent tenure in the school system.

Substitute Teaching Licenses

Full-time substitute teachers need to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

A limited-term substitute will need a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework from an accredited institution of higher education. This license expires after 90 days.

Interstate Reciprocity

Interstate reciprocity is granted to a teaching/service provider with valid credentials granted by another state's department of education, provided the professional has completed a minimum of three years of satisfactory fulltime teaching within the last seven years of receiving the state's certificate.

Private Schools

The requirements for private school teachers are the same as for public schools in the district.

Although, I'm not sure why it matters. If a non-certified teacher can teach students better than a certified one, why shouldn't they be able to teach? I'm all for teachers being compotent. I just don't necessarily see the direct connection to licensure or certification.

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Make the money follow the student, not the school. :2cents:

Will's right about this; so nice to see him get back to this instead of his "Demon Denim" :bsflag:

:wtf: was that all about? And George, bowties look stupid.

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Hey SS - I assume you would be against it as well since you are against all government spending not in the Constitution... correct?

Also - How about state rights and letting DC decide or not.

George Will lost all credibility with his no jeans article. Stupidest thing I had ever read....

I'm not certain, but I think you were asking about the voucher program? (sorry if I'm off on that,)

I believe that States and local governments have the right, protected by the Tenth Amendment, to adopt any sort of voucher program they believe meets the needs of their communities.

I'm a little leery of vouchers conducted at the Federal level though. They are really a slighter better form of welfare to me.

If I felt confident that President Obama were legitimate in wanting to save money rather than reallocate it, I would support his decision more in this.

edit: I have no idea what Wills jeans article was.

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I'm not certain, but I think you were asking about the voucher program? (sorry if I'm off on that,)

I believe that States and local governments have the right, protected by the Tenth Amendment, to adopt any sort of voucher program they believe meets the needs of their communities.

I'm a little leery of vouchers conducted at the Federal level though. They are really a slighter better form of welfare to me.

If I felt confident that President Obama were legitimate in wanting to save money rather than reallocate it, I would support his decision more in this.

edit: I have no idea what Wills jeans article was.

What difference does it make if the government hands a voucher to a student for a private school or just deposits money into a public school account? The government is going pay either way. Will is right, the Teacher's Union is controlling the decisions and their interests do not necessarily include quality education. I'm disappointed in Obama's commitment to education.

As for the jeans, last week Will called us all slobs because we wear jeans. I'm a first rate slob according to him, but he still hits it out of the park sometimes as far as I'm concerned.

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So, how many people who're gung ho for vouchers think that any school that accepts vouchers should be required to follow the same rules as the public schools.

You know, like having to take all the students in their district instead of picking the best ones?

Like not being allowed to kick discipline problems out, unless they jump through the same hoops that the public schools have to go through?

Like being required to do whatever it takes to accommodate any student who has special needs of one kind or another?

How much of the problems with the public schools are due to the sometimes ridiculous rules that they're required to follow? Is the solution to create a seperate school system which is exempt from the stupid rules? Or to change the rules?

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How much of the problems with the public schools are due to the sometimes ridiculous rules that they're required to follow? Is the solution to create a seperate school system which is exempt from the stupid rules? Or to change the rules?

Why does it have to be one or the other? Choice is good. The choices would be better if public schools weren't over encumbered, but they are. In the mean time I would not want my children in an inferior school. Obama has taken a great opportunity away from these families.

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This article by Will and some of the responses in this thread are exactly why we're in fiscal trouble. We run a deficit of 1.4T and people are rightfully concerned. Conservatives hold "tea bagging" rallies (eww) around the country voicing outrage.

Then Obama begins to ID specific programs to eliminate and these same conservatives are again outraged. No! No! You can't cut MY spending, MY spending is worth every dime! Its YOUR spending that's wasteful and needs to be cut!

And so it goes. Good to see those purse-string conservatives in action.

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