For months, as both the House of Representatives and the Senate debated financial regulatory reform, Republicans insisted on falsely characterizing the various forms of reform legislation as inevitably leading to future bailouts of financial firms. This strategy arose due to the advice of GOP-pollster Frank Luntz, who said that the best way to defeat financial reform was to call it a bailout, regardless of what the actual legislation said or did.
And the GOP has evidently taken this advice seriously to heart, as it is now calling legislation that has absolutely nothing to do with financial reform a “bailout.” For instance, the Obama administration has asked that a $23 billion bill to save the jobs of as many as 300,000 teachers, crafted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), be included in the upcoming supplemental war spending bill. Republicans are taking exception to the request for a teacher “bailout”:
— House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): This latest state bailout proposal promotes the same flawed logic as the failed ‘stimulus’ bill that has contributed to a record $1.5 trillion deficit and left one in every 10 Americans from our workforce out of work.
— Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KA): An emergency troop supplemental bill should be about providing our war fighters with the vital resources they need to do their jobs successfully — not spending $23 billion on a new bailout program for states.
Boehner and Tiahrt are not the only Republican lawmakers to dismiss the effort to prevent mass teacher layoffs. Earlier this month, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said that he “couldn’t imagine” supporting the bill, even though he hadn’t actually seen it yet.
There’s a legitimate debate to have over whether or not Harkin’s legislation is the most effective way to prevent cutting our education system to ribbons. But for Boehner and Tiahrt to simply call it a “bailout” shows a callous disregard for both educators and the children they teach.
Tiahrt, especially, should be taking a hard look at the legislation, as Kansas is in worse shape than most when it comes to education. The state is projected to layoff more than 5,000 teachers this year, and many districts have moved to a four day school week in order to cut costs. Kansas raised its sales tax this month in order to avoid further education cuts.
Ohio is not quite as bad, but is still looking at up to 2,000 layoffs. And instead of saying whether or not they think that these thousands of teachers should lose their jobs, Boehner and Tiahrt simply scoff at a good-faith effort to keep them teaching.