Enough of being the "Party of No". Republicans have had a tough few years trying to be the responsible parent, insisting on financial discipline and limited government. While most voters understand the need to balance their household budgets and wouldn't want to leave their kids with a mountain of personal debt, the Democrats have benefited politically by emphasizing the specific and tangible while the Republicans have been stuck with the abstraction of trillions. Enough!!!
Maybe, just maybe, the sequestration exercise has demonstrated that we can cut 2% off of a 16 trillion budget without the sky falling, and we can move on to a subject which is in the Republican wheelhouse of Opportunity, Liberty, and Personal Responsibility; one where we are on the side of the angels.
The set-up: Much data shows that there is a growing gap between the well off and lower economic classes as a result of globalization, technological advance, and the growth of single parent/wage-earner families. The central strategy of the Obama administration - increase taxes on the successful to fund extended unemployment benefits, egregious expansion of disability benefits, free healthcare, and a host of safety-net programs. The best strategy - improve education to allow those with the most talent and work ethic to prosper and raise society in the process. This is a civil rights issue.
Some thoughts for the "big picture" folks:
- Since the creation of the federal Department of Education in 1980, our relative performance in the developed world has dropped to "average" despite being the leader in spending. Something isn't working.
- In his recent short book, "Obama's Education Takeover", Lance Izumi explains how the Obama Administration's press for national standards, curriculum, and testing would move America away from local control and parental involvement.
- Obama's recent call for "universal preschool" would not only cost many billions of dollars, but it would expand Head Start to middle class families and drive out private secular and church options with questionable demonstration of lasting results from existing public programs.
And in terms of "act local", Republicans have several winning issues:
- School accountability. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers may oppose any objective evaluation of teacher performance, but there 10X as many parents as teachers - and many if not most teachers are upset with the protection of incompetents. There could be no better bete noir than Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers.
- School choice . A third of the states now offer some form of voucher or subsidized school savings account. Parents do know what is best for their kids - whether it be traditional public schools, charter schools, secular private schools, or religious schools.
- Liberal overreach extends to such things as eliminating the pledge of allegiance to the flag, challenging Junior ROTC programs, and continuation of school assignment policies which contain vestiges of social engineering long after the courts have declared busing unnecessary.
For those Republican presidential aspirants looking to 2016, "candidates make the issues". Marco Rubio has the inside track on today's consensus "must fix" immigration reform, but that should be off of the table within a year. The name Republican with a deep history in the education wars is the former governor of Florida with his Foundation for Excellence in Education. Memorabilia collectors should hang on to their Bush-Clinton stuff.
In the spirit of the season, here's the Senate Majority Leader explaining that the American income tax is voluntary.
bill bowen - 3/29/13