Today in Washington – August 4, 2010
Thank you Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) for issuing the report, Summertime Blues. I have been laughing for one whole day after reading some of the project that President Obama considers “stimulus.” One needs to ask the ever smug Paul Krugman over at the New York Times to explain how $144,541 of your tax dollars spent to study how “monkeys react under the influence of cocaine” is stimulus.
The House is out of session until September. The Senate will have a cloture vote on a $26 billion amendment to H.R. 1586, the FAA reauth bill. The nomination of anti gun activist Elena Kagan will dominate today and tomorrow’s proceedings on the Senate floor.
The vote today on the amendment to H.R. 1586 is throwing good money after bad. Lindsey Burke of The Foundry has written about the idea of bailout out Medicaid shortfalls and education pork.
Many state leaders are lobbying the Senate to extend the Medicaid bailout enacted in the February 2009 stimulus bill. While several attempts by Senate leaders to extend the bailout have failed, it will be brought to the floor again on Monday, this time bundled with additional spending on education. Talk about throwing good money after bad. For both Medicaid and education funding, a continued bailout would disproportionately benefit the most irresponsible states and would allow them to delay taking the steps they must to live within their means.
Make no mistake about it. The vote today is $26 billion to bailout states terrible fiscal policy. If the Congress continues to reward states that are fiscally irresponsible, these states will have an incentive to run up the education and Medicaid tab in the future. Many states overspend on education bureaucrats and some have classified this legislation as a bailout of teachers unions.
Burke argues that trends in school staffing are proof of waste:
Since 1950, student-teacher ratios have declined from 28:1 to 16:1. Moreover, in 1950 there were 2.4 teachers for every non-teaching staff position. Today, that ratio is about 1:1. This means that for every teacher in the classroom in today’s public schools, there is a corresponding non-teaching staff member. This bureaucratic growth is one of the greatest strains on state budgets.
Senators are avoiding the tough decisions. States have proven to be more likely to fire a classroom teacher than a overpaid pencil pusher. Good education policy would be to put more teachers and money in the classroom, then fire the bureaucrats. This legislation promotes the idea that federal bailout policies, including but not limited to the states and Wall Street, are good for the taxpayer and will help states in the long term.