Why the GOP Budget Plan Might Be Good for Education

By 04/04/2011

4 Comments | Print | NO PDF |

We’re starting to seethe broad outlines of a budget plan that Republican lawmakers will present this week to slash $4 trillion in spending over the next decade. At first blush this sounds bad, bad, bad for education revenue—we don’t yet know what the plan entails in terms of federal K-12 spending—but maybe not. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the plan would “essentially end Medicare” (and replace it with private insurance plans, subsidized by the government), plus:

The proposal would also convert Medicaid, the health program for the poor, into a series of block grants to give states more flexibility. And it is expected to suggest significant cuts in Social Security, while proposing fewer details on how to achieve them.

No doubt this will enrage the senior lobby—who will declare all of this dead on arrival. But to my eye, it puts Republicans firmly on the side of the young. If we don’t address these entitlements, we’ll have no choice but to devastate K-12 education budgets (and other social spending for children) for decades to come. Even huge tax increases won’t be enough to address the long-term fiscal challenges (and most economists would tell you that those would be counterproductive anyway, as they would cripple the economy).

As for Medicaid, as we know from our home-state of Ohio, it has become the major competitor to K-12 funding—and more often than not is winning that fight.

I understand the downside to declaring generational warfare, but still, let’s be honest: We can’t keep spending so much on lavish retirement and health-care benefits for the old if we want to do right by the young. So before you reflexively deride this week’s GOP budget proposal consider this: It just might pave the way for greater investments in our schools.

—Mike Petrilli

Comment on this article
  • Stephen Downes says:

    > It just might pave the way for greater investments in our schools.

    I really don’t think there’s any basis for such a hope. They don’t plan to reinvest the money in anything. They play to cut spending to as close to zero as possible and shut down government departments wholesale.

  • Gail Morris says:

    Your argument defines the GOP Budget as a cost allocation priority issue with either Medicaid or Education winning. The majority of Medicaid dollars are spent on the disabled community and secondly children’s health. The elderly come in third place. Therefore, it is a kids vs kids issue under that framework.

    But please change your frame….

    The GOP Budget ( which is poorly done as it uses statistically impossible long-term indicators: a 2,8% uneployment rate,
    a excessive decrease in non-entitlement spending as it relates to GDP,etc). But the crux of the matter is the amazing loss of revenue from corporations and the wealthy due to this opposition to taxing that part of our economy. Please note that the effective tax rate on the Fortune 500 hovers around 11%.

    The GOP’s long-term plan is total privatization of K-12 education and to abolish all unions. So if you think that is a good idea, I don’t, maybe you have a point.

  • Karl Wheatley says:

    Other industrialized countries provide health care to everyone, and they spend less doing it and live longer.

    The grown-up reality here is that we cannot afford to keep funding the lavish lifestyles of the investors and CEOs of private health care insurance companies. They have done a wonderful job marketing their product and attacking public health care, but we can no longer afford the waste that we call health care profits.

    There is plenty of money to make social security solvent long term and the same for medicare and medicaid, but we will have to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations and capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes–back to the more sustainable levels they were at a few decades ago.

    My goodness, you could balance several budgets of big states simply by taxing the top 50 hedge fund managers at a reasonable rate.

    And by the way, if we don’t do this, the young will be paying for the missing health care that the GOP plan is taking away from seniors.

    The GOP plan pits the very rich against the rest of us, it has nothing to do with young and old.

  • Mike Petrilli says:

    I’m open to higher taxes, particularly for the rich and super-rich, but according to various analyses that wouldn’t be nearly enough to close the deficit. See here for example: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/04/eat-the-rich/237000/.


  • Comment on this Article

    Name ()


    Sponsored Results

    The Hoover Institution at Stanford University - Ideas Defining a Free Society

    Harvard Kennedy School Program on Educational Policy and Governance

    Thomas Fordham Institute - Advancing Educational Excellence and Education Reform