Obey: White House Suggested Cutting Food Stamps to Pay for Education Program
By ANNIE LOWREY 7/16/10 5:04 PM
This entire interview with Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), the head of the House Appropriations Committee and a powerful veteran member of Congress, who is retiring this year, is worth a read. But one passage is particularly striking. Obey is discussing his proposal to divert funds from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education program to save teachers’ jobs. Due to the states’ fiscal crises, as many as 200,000 local government employees, many of them teachers, might lose their jobs in the coming year.
The proposal made it in to the House war-funding bill, which needs a Senate vote. The White House has threatened to veto the war-funding bill if it contains Obey’s change. Here is the quote, from an interview with The Fiscal Times:
The secretary of education [Arne Duncan] is whining about the fact he only got 85 percent of the money he wanted .… [W]hen we needed money, we committed the cardinal sin of treating him like any other mere mortal. We were giving them over $10 billion in money to help keep teachers on the job, plus another $5 billion for Pell, so he was getting $15 billion for the programs he says he cares about, and it was costing him $500 million [in reductions to the Race to the Top program]. Now that’s a pretty damn good deal. So as far as I’m concerned, the secretary of education should have been happy as hell. He should have taken that deal and smiled like a Cheshire cat. He’s got more walking around money than every other cabinet secretary put together.If Obey is right about this, it is, in a word, horrifying. Food stamps are not particularly generous. They help families that are often desperate. They are just about the last thing that should get cut in the midst of a horrific employment crisis in the wake of a job-sapping recession.
It blows my mind that the White House would even notice the fight [over Race to the Top]. I would have expected the president to say to the secretary, “Look, you’re getting a good deal, for God’s sake, what this really does is guarantee that the rest of the money isn’t going to be touched.” We gave [Duncan] $4.3 billion in the stimulus package, no questions asked. He could spend it any way he wants. … I trusted the secretary, so I gave him a hell of a lot more money than I should have.
My point is that I have been working for school reform long before I ever heard of the secretary of education, and long before I ever heard of Obama. And I’m happy to welcome them on the reform road, but I’ll be damned if I think the only road to reform lies in the head of the secretary of education.
We were told we have to offset every damn dime of [new teacher spending]. Well, it ain’t easy to find offsets, and with all due respect to the administration their first suggestion for offsets was to cut food stamps. Now they were careful not to make an official budget request, because they didn’t want to take the political heat for it, but that was the first trial balloon they sent down here. … Their line of argument was, well, the cost of food relative to what we thought it would be has come down, so people on food stamps are getting a pretty good deal in comparison to what we thought they were going to get. Well isn’t that nice. Some poor bastard is going to get a break for a change.
Rockefeller: Goodwin Will Vote for Unemployment Benefits Extension
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) just answered the question on the minds of all the people who have lost their unemployment benefits in recent weeks: Senate appointee Carte Goodwin (D-W.Va.) will vote in favor of the unemployment benefits extension bill that the Senate will take up shortly after he is sworn in at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday. That means there will be 60 votes in favor of the bill, enough to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Rockefeller announced Goodwin’s anticipated vote for him as he made remarks during a press conference today. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) announced during the presser that Goodwin will replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).
...Although the financial reform bill may have clipped some of Goldman’s wings — its lucrative derivative business may require Goldman to jettison its status as a bank holding company, and the access to the Fed discount window that comes with it — the main point is that the Goldman settlement reveals everything that’s weakest about the financial reform bill.From Robert Reich
The American people will continue to have to foot the bill for the mistakes of Wall Street’s biggest banks because the legislation does nothing to diminish the economic and political power of these giants. It does not cap their size. It does not resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated commercial (normal) banking from investment (casino) banking. It does not even link the pay of their traders and top executives to long-term performance. In other words, it does nothing to change their basic structure. And for this reason, it gives them an implicit federal insurance policy against failure unavailable to smaller banks — thereby adding to their economic and political power in the future. [emphasis mine]
The bill contains hortatory language but is precariously weak in the details. The so-called Volcker Rule has been watered down and delayed. Blanche Lincoln’s important proposal that derivatives be traded in separate entities which aren’t subsidized by commercial deposits has been shrunk and compromised. Customized derivates can remain underground. The consumer protection agency has been lodged in the Fed, whose own consumer division failed miserably to protect consumers last time around.
On every important issue the legislation merely passes on to regulators decisions about how to oversee the big banks and treat them if they’re behaving badly. But if history proves one lesson it’s that regulators won’t and can’t. They don’t have the resources. They don’t have the knowledge. They are staffed by people in their 30s and 40s who are paid a small fraction of what the lawyers working for the banks are paid. Many want and expect better-paying jobs on Wall Street after they leave government, and so are shrink-wrapped in a basic conflict of interest. And the big banks’ lawyers and accountants can run circles around them by threatening protracted litigation....
Apparently the cap is in place and BP is testing to make sure the pressure won't blow up the floor of the sea. My BP feeds here, BP's actual feeds page (now updated with all feeds on one page) is here.
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died this morning, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, at the age of 80. Steinbrenner suffered from a heart attack and passed away at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla.From HuffPo
This video of a family dancing at Auschwitz with their survivor grandpa is stirring up some controversy. As an atheist Jew (oxymoron?) I have to side with the folks who think it's very cool he lived long enough to celebrate his survival, life, children and grandchildren.
What do you think?
What do you think?
Hopefully one day, probably long after I am dead and gone, folks will realize what we have (or have not) done to make a better world for our children. We could start by acknowledging simple truths, but this too is a problem.
Left Ed: Race, Income and School Reformh/t Open Left
...In 1966, the Coleman Report revealed the Inconvenient Truth that the correlation of low student achievement to race and poverty is so strong that "schools generally can not overcome" the inequalities imposed on them by the society at large. [emphasis mine] Children born to families with socio-economic advantages in our society will continue to have their advantages reinforced in the schools they attend, while children born to families with more challenging circumstances will chronically lag behind.
Today, merely pointing this fact out often gets you labeled by the reformist crowd as "making excuses" for bad schools. But when one wants to understand the weather outside, it makes sense to start by recognizing how clouds make rain. Complex systems such as schools have multiple inputs, which should all be considered in policy making....