From the conservative Weekly Standard.
As they filed out of the Capitol Thursday evening, a few Republican House members told the WEEKLY STANDARD what they thought of President Obama’s address to Congress on jobs:
Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.): “For somebody who keeps saying we should get beyond politics, that was a pure political speech tonight. It was unfortunate.”
Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.): “It was, um, I didn’t hear any new ideas. The only new idea from him that I was encouraged by is corporate tax reform. Broad based, lower rates. That’s something we called for in our budget, we’ve always wanted to do. So perhaps some room for common ground there…I lost count of all the straw men up there. I mean, I was losing count at about 14 or 15. But we’re used to hearing that. I think the last third of it was pretty much straw men…All the ideas in the front that he ticked off were the same things that he put in the stimulus that he proposed earlier, which are more Keynesian-style ideas that have already sort of proven to fail. I would rather we pass ideas that have proven to work rather than double down on ones that have proven to fail.”
Tom Price (R-Ga.): “I felt it was desperate. I felt he was desperate and I though the speech was desperate…He mocked many of the proposals that we’ve put forward, and none of it was productive or constructive to the political discourse. Somehow, he’s incapable of appreciating that many of the things that he says actually thwart positive political discourse.”
Diane Black (R-Tenn.): “There was something new. The president was saying we should look at Medicare, Medicaid. First time I ever heard that…What he does in there is like what my kids do. They take my credit card, they spend, and then they want me to pay for it.”
Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.): “At one point, he said, some of you believe if we cut regulation and cut spending, that’s going to be enough. I couldn’t have applauded harder. I believe that very much…His approach is not very pro-business. When he talks about Warren Buffett, that’s a little far-removed from the average businessperson. If any of those guys want to send in more tax dollars to the treasury, they can. They can just write the check.”
Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.): “I thought it was a little bit of a campaign speech…Part of it was a little bit demeaning. The president sometimes can be a bit arrogant.”
Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.): “It’s a rehash. I think this is the stimulus part deux or, I guess when you’re talking about multiple stimuluses, stimuli. You could call it the stimuli speech.”
Obama is just a petulant child. One minute, he is in his ranting mood and has a tantrum against the responsible grown-ups. The next minute he wants to borrow the car keys. We elected a 14-year old to be President. One who has no experience as a job creator in the private sector. He is out of his league.
In his remarks tonight, President Obama argued that his jobs proposal would create more jobs for teachers. He went as far as to say laying off teachers…”has to stop”.
But since 1970, student enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools has increased just 7 percent, while public elementary and secondary staff hires have increased 83 percent. Moreover, in the 1950′s, there were approximately 2.36 teachers for every non-teacher in a school district. Today, in our nation’s school systems, that ratio is closer to 1 to 1. So every teacher in the classroom has an administrative counterpart in your local public school district. That is a tremendous strain on state budgets. But it is also a huge boon the education unions.
President Obama’s call to spend more precious taxpayer dollars to “prevent teacher layoffs” may do more to inflate schools’ non-teaching rosters than to retain teachers.
On a per-pupil basis, federal spending on education has nearly tripled since the 1970′s. And those who have benefited the most from this profligacy aren’t the children sitting in the nation’s classrooms. No, the increase in federal education spending (and commensurate increase in Washington’s involvement in local schools) hasn’t led to improvements in academic achievement, to increased graduation rates, or even to a narrowing of the achievement gap. It hasn’t served to improve outcomes for children, but it has propped-up the public education jobs program that too often aims to meet the needs of the adults in the system, not the children it was designed to educate.
As expected, tonight President Obama called on taxpayers to send their hard-earned money to the federal government so that Washington can pour that money into public school construction. In an attempt to boost job growth, the president suggested spending billions on school infrastructure projects to “modernize 35,000 public schools.”
Since President Obama came into office, spending on public education has skyrocketed:
Education budget in 2008: $59.2 billion
Education budget in 2011: $69.9 billion
Department of Education “stimulus” award (Spring 2009): $98 billion
“Edujobs” public education bailout (Summer 2010): $10 billion
And state and local school construction spending has also seen significant increases.
By some estimates, inflation-adjusted school construction spending has increased 150 percent in the last two decades. And unfortunately, profligacy and waste are the norm. Remember the $500 million RFK high school in Los Angeles, built last year after a California bond referendum was enacted? There are certainly schools in ill-repair, but this maintenance should be a local concern. Washington should not be in the business of school window repair, updating facilities, or repainting buildings. Schools don’t need increased federal funding for school repairs; they need more flexibility with funding to be able to use dollars for needs they consider pressing.
The president’s proposal to funnel more taxpayer dollars into school construction has both constitutional and pragmatic problems. School construction has historically been – and should remain – the job of states and localities. Federal forays into school construction have been rare and indirect. Federally-funded school construction is also a terribly expensive way to build schools: Washington-funded jobs must pay prevailing wages, increasing costs on average by 22 percent.
In calling for federally-funded school construction, President Obama is once again supporting Washington overreach in education. But he’s also behind the game in terms of the direction school policy is trending. As states and localities begin embracing online learning – and as education shifts to a world outside of the walls of physical school buildings – President Obama is pushing to subsidize the old model. The administration might think “school construction” polls better than other government “jobs” projects, but it’s just as destined to be a waste of taxpayer money, and a public policy failure.
Robert Stacy McCain is a Herman Cain supporter. Wouldn’t it have been great to see Herman Cain debating Obama? The job creator against the community organizer?