David Broder Can’t Understand Why Government Can’t Support Education

For many months, the Washington Post has been running as “news” front page editorials, and even straight out propaganda written by Pete Peterson deficit hawks/vultures, seeking to terrorize the Beltway over the federal deficit.

In his Beat the Press posts, economist Dean Baker has repeatedly called out the Washington Post for spreading this deficit derangement syndrome e.g. here.

Many prominent economists have explained that the deficit hysteria is just dead wrong, that much of the current deficits is driven by the near-term necessity of dealing with the recession — and that spending should continue until we’re much closer to full employmentt — while long-run structural deficits are caused primarily by out-of-control costs of our health care system, not government overspending per se.

But the Post’s David Broder seems entirely unaware of the misinformation campaign by the Post’s editors and his employers. Instead, his latest column laments the tough “dilemma” the President and Democrats face in having to choose between worthwhile spending to save teachers’ jobs and deficit reduction, which Broder sees as equally valid goals. Thus, it’s a tough choice between helping the states deal with massive budget deficits and avoid laying off 300,000 teachers, and fighting the deficit by not funding measures to ensure the states are not forced to slash public education:

The arguments on each side — for averting teacher layoffs and for avoiding even more ruinous debt — are entirely convincing. But they collide.

Uh, no, they’re not both convincing. The amounts needed to save the teachers is a trivial contribution to our debt, even if that were a concern. From Brad DeLong:

Whether we spend an extra $100 billion more (or less) this year on anti-recession measures is unimportant–is less than rounding error–in the long-term budget context. Let’s do the math:

Spend $1 billion today. Use the Treasury to borrow the money for 10 years at 3.20%. Expected inflation at 2 1/2% means that the real interest charges on the borrowing are only $7 million a year. And in 25 years the real American economy will be twice it’s current size, and so the burden of raising taxes to actually pay off the debt will be half as big as it is today.

We do have enormous long-run deficit problems. They are not the result of any future difficulty in paying off what we are borrowing today. They will be the result of the enormous medical scare spending that we have put in train for the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s. To wonder how we will pay off the debt we are currently accumulating is to fundamentally misunderstand the situation we are in. . . .

However, we have a bigger problem right now: 10% unemployment, five percentage points higher than it needs to be, something like $12 billion every month of wealth thrown away via unused capacity and idle workers. Failing to do everything you can to solve a big problem now because the solution might–but probably won’t–set us up for a smaller problem later does not seem to me to be wise policy.

Broder then condescends to lecture the President, a father with school-age daughters, how important education is. He sternly tells the President and the Democrats they should choose to fund education, but promise to fix the deficits in the future. Yes, they should fund the teachers, and a lot more.

To be sure, Broder notes the Congress is split:

Liberal Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are trying to assemble such a package, but they have encountered resistance not only from Republicans but from moderate and conservative Democrats, well aware that the voters are becoming more and more worried about the deficits and debts this nation is incurring.

But Broder does not seriously challenge the complicity of conservaDem Blue Dogs, whom he often celebrates as the idealized “centrists” on which good government depends. These “centrists” are the reason the Democrats alone cannot muster the votes in Congress to save teachers, cover increased state Medicaid costs and provide COBRA coverage. His heroes and their beliefs are the problem.

Broder doesn’t otherwise criticize the Republicans, yet no one in their leadership has stepped forward with a plan or a promised vote to save Sasha’s and Malia’s teachers from being layed off. They don’t care.

The Republicans are not a loyal opposition; they have become the party of nihilism, and their policies are anti-growth, anti-jobs, anti-education, anti-teachers, anti-governance.

A column lecturing on the national disgrace of teacher layoffs might at least remind readers that the Republicans and Blue Dog’s prescription for the nation’s anemic support of essential public functions is leeches.

John Chandley

Comments are closed.