The headline sounds so positive. It’s a great idea. Worthy of ensuring that voters have a reason to re-elect Rep. Maurice Hinchey in November. Even though he is a Democrat, supported Health Care Reform at every step, avoided letters from constituents, and spent tens of millions in earmarks that added to the national debt.
But step away from the facts, and look at this new initiative. Education is one of the top issues in America. Surpassed by jobs and the economy. Surely this is worthwhile?
Rep. Hinchey is pushing to add $23 billion in federal funding to save 250,000 teaching and teaching related jobs across the country. Specifically for New York, the proposal will be for $1.4 billion, and save 19,500 jobs. Who would not be happy with that?
Well a lot of people might.
First is the question of where is the money coming from? Billions of dollars may sound like small potatoes compared to the trillions spent recently, but it’s still a lot of money. This money is not in the budget already. It’s not part of the Obama Stimulus – which was supposed to “save” and create jobs, these jobs, last year. This is new money that will either add to the national debt and/or need to be taken from the pockets of Americans via new taxes for decades. And we all had fun paying those taxes on the 15th right.
Skip where the money comes from. Education is priceless, though this adds to the price that we pay for it every year. We need teachers and this will keep them in their jobs. Except it really doesn’t.
Like the Obama Stimulus, this is a stopgap measure. It isn’t “saving” jobs, it’s delaying when these jobs will end. Just like money used from the Obama Stimulus pushed back the number of people losing their homes in mortgage foreclosure. It’s still happening, now at a all-time record pace, just not when everyone is paying attention.
This proposal, with every good intention that it sounds like it has, only pushes the problem back a year or so. Next year those same teachers will need to be paid, and unless the economy is massively better (which even White House economists say won’t happen) the money won’t be there to pay them. Plus next year there will be even more taxes and costs on the average American going to things like Health Care Reform, so the shortfall (which might include raises for education) is likely to be larger. This without factoring in a day of interest.
So in essense Rep. Hinchey is making a splash about taking a problem and pushing it off to another day. Not solving the problem at all. Much in the same way that the Obama Administration and Congress is addressing the unemployment rate by extending (again) unemployment benefits – now to over 2 years. The problem is still there, and interest is adding up faster than a politician up for election can shake hands and kiss babies.
We all want teachers to make more money, and for our kids to have the best basic education in the world. But in the reality that is life, we don’t have the smartest kids and we can’t afford the Health Care Reform let alone anything else (it costs roughly $1.2 trillion, tax collection raises about $1.3 trillion). Pushing the problem off to another day isn’t helping, or doing the job politicians were elected for.
Given these facts, you can be sure of one thing. When Representative Maurice Hinchey has his re-election tour and political ads up later in the year, he will make it very clear that he was trying to “save” jobs. It doesn’t matter if this proposal passes or not. It doesn’t matter if it makes the problem worse or just hides it for a year. His campaign will say that Rep. Hinchey is doing his job in Congress, for you.
To bad once you get past the political ads and polispeak and headlines, what you are left with is empty, useless, and worse than you started with.