Last summer, National Economic Council director Larry Summers said that in order to be effective, any stimulus bill “must be clearly and credibly temporary.” More and more people are beginning to notice that President Barack Obama’s trillion dollar spending plan completely fails that test. The Associated Press reports today:
If the government spends billions on education to help jump-start the staggering economy, what happens when things improve and schools have grown used to the largesse?
The measure making its way through Congress would achieve a long-sought goal of Obama and other Democrats. For the first time, it would fully fund No Child Left Behind, former President George W. Bush’s education program.
“These are political goals,” said Checker Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington think tank. “In other words, other fish are being fried here.”
[The plan] would also pump an extra $26 billion into two long-term programs, No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The bill includes a $15 billion bonus fund to encourage reforms related to teaching and student tests.
Even those who asked for the money acknowledge it will be difficult to cut later.
Terry Hartle, lobbyist for the American Council on Education, the leading higher education group in Washington, called it “the tail problem,” for spending that stretches far beyond the short term stimulus package.
And then there is this nugget:
School districts do spend a lot of the No Child Left Behind and special education money on teacher salaries. But they have five years to spend money from the two programs — and a long track record of spending it slowly.
There currently is more than $5 billion in unspent federal education money, according to the Education Department. In other words, schools and states are still sitting on the money, McKeon said.
In other words, not only is there nothing temporary about this new spending, but states can’t even spend the money they are being spent now fast enough. Which means all this new education spending is not timely either.