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One of my son’s Suzuki violin teachers had a wise twist on an old saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try something else.” The corollary? “When you do succeed, don’t stop. Do it again.” The White House could use some remedial Suzuki lessons in economics. They’ve got everything completely bass-ackward.
In February 2009, President Obama signed the trillion-dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Nearly $115 billion was earmarked for education. The stimulator-in-chief’s crack team of Ivy League economists predicted the law would hold the jobless rate under 8.5 percent.
The actual unemployment rate in October 2009 skyrocketed to a whopping 10.2 percent.
In August 2010, President Obama went back to the well. With deep-pocketed public employee unions by his side, he lobbied hard for the so-called “EduJobs” bill — $26 billion more to bail out bankrupt states, school districts and public hospitals. Nearly half went to teachers, whose unions raked in an estimated $50 million in rank-and-file dues as a result. Obama’s economists had promised the jobless rate would be down to 7.9 percent by then.
The actual unemployment rate in August 2010 was 9.6 percent.
Now, after the Senate rejected President Rerun’s latest half-trillion-dollar stimulus proposal, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are pushing for a “mini” $30 billion union jobs package for teachers (with $5 billion to mollify police and firefighters unions). In addition to funding fantastical green school construction jobs (earmarked for unionized-only contractors in an industry that is 85 percent nonunion), the EduJobs III bill will purportedly “save” 400,000 education jobs at an average cost of nearly $80,000 per job. Those will be paid for with a 0.5 percent surtax on millionaires. The job-savings estimates come from the same economic wunderkinds who predicted the jobless rate today would be 7.1 percent.
The actual unemployment rate reported this month is 9.1 percent. While the White House decries layoffs, the inconvenient truth is that the EduJobs III union payoff is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions laid off in the private sector. According to official government statistics, the share of the eligible population now holding a job has sunk to 58.1 percent, the lowest since July 1983.
So, where did all the original EduJobs money go? One survey by the Center on Education Policy found that much of the cash went to bolster fringe benefits and administrative staff.
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