Congressional conservatives have mainly blocked additional stimulus spending on the (economically illiterate) grounds that it would add the deficit.
But apparently when it comes to preventing teacher layoffs, conservative opposition is not about the deficit at all. It's just that conservatives want teachers to get fired.
Rep. David Obey, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has been trying to add aid to localities so they can plug budget gaps that would otherwise require firing teachers.
But Politico reports today: "Republican leaders warned Wednesday that their House members will withhold support by voting 'present' on the war funds if Democrats attempt to add new domestic spending, including $10 billion to help local school boards avert teacher layoffs in the fall."
And Politico notes later in the piece: "...the $10 billion to help teachers is less than half of what was first proposed and would be offset by spending cuts and about $4.4 billion in new legislative savings... ." (emphasis added)
So there isn't even an argument that helping teachers will add to the deficit.
House Democrats are making a huge concession -- giving up on having the teacher funding serve as additional stimulus, scaling back other stimulus investments -- to make sure our children do not fall behind and bear the brunt of the recession.
For House conservatives to continue to oppose funds that would save teacher jobs, after the issue of deficit spending is taken off the table, reveals the actual reason behind the opposition -- conservatives want teachers to get fired.
Maybe they think small class sizes aren't worth the money. Maybe they think there are so many bad teachers that a couple hundred thousand are expendable.
I don't know why exactly conservatives want so many teachers to get fired. But there's no getting around the fact that they do.
Perhaps then, we should be having and open and honest debate, whether we want hundreds of thousands of teachers to get fired.
If conservatives really think that's the right policy, I'm sure they would be happy defending their position.
Originally posted at OurFuture.org