Yesterday, the Senate finally approved $26 billion in funding to bolster state budgets, including $10 billion meant to prevent massive teacher layoffs. The Senate has been grappling with this funding for months, but two Republicans senators — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) — voted to move forward once the bill was fully paid for with spending offsets.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that she will interrupt the House’s August recess in order to hold a session to pass the bill, instead of waiting to pass it in September. But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) slammed Pelosi’s decision to call the House back into session, calling the funding a “payoff to union bosses and liberal special interests“:
The American people don’t want more Washington ‘stimulus’ spending – especially in the form of a pay-off to union bosses and liberal special interests. This stunning display of tone-deafness comes at the expense of American workers, who will be hit by another job-killing tax hike because Washington Democrats can’t kick their addiction to more government ‘stimulus’ spending. Democrats should be listening to their constituents – who are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ – instead of scampering back to Washington to push through more special interest bailouts and job-killing tax hikes.
First, the stimulus spending that Boehner is so quick to deride will have saved or created 3.7 million jobs by September, according to the Congressional Budget Office (with which Boehner has an on-again, off-again relationship). And this bill actually reduces the deficit by $1.3 billion dollars, so Boehner is simply incorrect to claim that a tax hike will be necessary to pay for it.
But more importantly, does Boehner really consider teachers, firefighters, and police officers to be “liberal special interests”? Overall, it is estimated that the funding will save the jobs of about 300,000 workers, including about 140,000 school employees. According to the Department of Education, 5,000 teaching jobs in Boehner’s home state of Ohio will be preserved by the funding.
As Jonathan Alter wrote, “Republicans in both chambers were happy to let all those teachers lose their jobs. The results would have been devastating not just for schools but for the country. Just what we need when we’re trying to compete with China and India — four-day school weeks and teachers with 35 kids in a class.” But Boehner would prefer that we add these teachers — as well as thousands of other public servants — to the unemployment rolls, because evidently they only count as “special interests.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released the following statement this morning: “Incredibly, the Republican Leader John Boehner disparagingly referred to those who teach our children, protect our homes, and keep our streets safe as ‘special interests.’ Washington Republicans are opposed to supporting our teachers, firefighters, and policemen at home in order to protect corporate tax loopholes that promote the export of American jobs.”