Last night, the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected a portion of the President’s so-called jobs plan, which would have been a mini-“stimulus” program designed to save local public employee jobs. The bill was overwhelming rejected; only gaining 50 votes.
The history on local “stimulus” spending is clear: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act established the State Stabilization Fund, a $50 billion slush fund for state and local educators. Projects funded from the program ranged from providing for inflated health care costs to funding water park field trips to buying iPods and iPads for elementary school classes.
As a result, 1.6 million teaching jobs were lost between the passage of the “stimulus” bill and last summer, when then-Speaker Pelosi called Congress back from recess to pass an emergency state bailout with $10 billion in teachers’ funds. Still, 826,000 local teachers’ jobs have been lost since enactment of first stimulus, with more to come. That’s because funds extended are on top of current state spending – expanding state obligations and ensuring teacher cuts down the road when federal funds dry up.
So why does the President and his colleagues in Congress continue to push a policy that has proven to be an abject failure? Because those failures benefit a major Democrat constituency: labor unions. The federal education bailouts have been a windfall for state teachers’ unions. It is estimated that the $10 billion infusion of federal funds to “save” education jobs last August plowed as much as $100 million into the National Educators Association, who use dues to support friendly Democrats in elections.
The necessity of another education “stimulus” might be perceived by some as an admission of the failure of the first, but instead of rethinking failed policy, the President has doubled down on it, calling on Congress to pass his “job” plan. Luckily, even Democrats are starting to consider the idea too toxic to support.