Rose Garden Thorn
Federal Spending: When the president urged Congress last week to pass $26 billion in emergency aid to help save the jobs of laid-off teachers, one of his human props was out of place. It was a mistake he may regret.
Flanked in the Rose Garden by teachers, President Obama said last Tuesday: "We can't stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe."
Later in the day, Obama signed the bill that Democrats say will save the jobs of 300,000 teachers and police officers who've been laid off due to budget problems in state and local governments.
While that claim is debatable — so far, federal spending legislation intended to save jobs has failed miserably — this one isn't: The Obama team made a mistake with one of its human props, an error that will draw attention to an uncomfortable issue .
The scene didn't look unusual. Next to Obama during his morning plea from the Rose Garden were two teachers, one of them Shannon Lewis, who had been laid off at Hampshire High School in West Virginia. Everything looked so normal that we even included in our I&I pages a photo of her at the evening bill signing.
But Lewis wasn't laid off because the government could no longer afford to pay her. She was laid off "because of an enrollment decline in Hampshire County," the Charleston Daily Mail reports.
"Even if the state were in boom times, the current school aid formula would not support her salary."Which brings up a question the White House is going to wish hadn't been asked: How many other teachers are there who, like Lewis, lost their jobs not because of low tax revenues but simply because they were not needed, and will now be paid ... for what?
There might not be many. But this question leads to another place the White House doesn't want to go:
Public school employment, the Cato Institute reported in its @ Liberty blog, has increased 10 times faster than public school enrollment since 1970 — and the result has been stagnant test scores.Despite these facts, Democrats continue to funnel money into teachers' pockets, rewarding them for a job poorly done. And the party is getting a rich return. Democrats are heavily supported by teachers union money — the top two teachers unions make 95% of their political donations to Democrats, according to opensecrets.org — and union members' votes.
This is another set of unsavory facts the Democrats want the public to forget. But when the party's top operator tries to hoodwink voters by bringing in what amounts to a shill for a photo op, he reminds everyone of this unwholesome alliance.Every time one of these funding mistakes is shown I wonder how much we should multiply it by, tens, hundreds, thousands or more? And remember, with this bill they cut school lunch money to keep their union buddies at work.