Obama’s Cash For Education Clunkers

By Michelle Malkin
The Washington Times, January 31, 2011

“We’re going to have to out-educate other countries,” President Obama urged this week. How? By out-spending them, of course! It’s the same old quack cure for America’s fat and failing government-run schools monopoly. The one-trick ponies at the White House call their academic improvement agenda “targeted investing” for “winning the future.” Truth in advertising: Get ready to fork over more Cash for Education Clunkers.

Our government already spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland, according to recent analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Overall inflation-adjusted K-12 spending has tripled over the past 40 years, the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy points out. Yet American test scores and graduation rates are stagnant. One in 10 high schools is a dropout factory. And our students’ performance in one of the most prestigious global math competitions has been so abysmal that the U.S. simply withdrew altogether.

Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget already represents “one of the largest increases” in federal education spending history, and hikes total discretionary spending to nearly $51 billion. Toss in another $35 billion for mandatory Pell grants. And add another $4 billion for the illusory “Race to the Top” charade to improve academic standards.

Then there’s the $10 billion for the Education Jobs Fund signed into law last August — a naked payoff to the public teachers union, which also includes $50 million for the Striving Readers comprehensive literacy development and education program; $82 million for Student Aid Administration; and $10.7 million for the Ready to Teach program.

Oh, and don’t forget the $100 billion in federal stimulus funding for school programs and initiatives administered by the U.S. Department of Education. As he extols the virtues of “innovation” and “accountability,” the last thing Obama wants you to think about is the actual results of these profligate federal ed binges:

— As education analyst Neal McCluskey accurately described the real impact of the $4 billion Race to the Top paperwork theater: “States must say how they would improve lots of things, but they actually have to do very little. It is decades of public schooling — from the Great Society to No Child Left Behind — in a nutshell.” You need a chainsaw to cut through the bureaucratese of the winning state applications, but the bottom line is that the “race” is “won” only when school reformers get buy-in from the teachers unions — the most stalwart enemies of introducing choice and competition to the atrophying system.

— Despite massive multibillion-dollar “investments” in teacher training, America’s educators are horrifyingly incompetent at even elementary math. Explaining why American grade-school students can’t master simple fractions, one math professor confessed: “Part of the reason the kids don’t know it is because the teachers aren’t transmitting that.” Instead, they’ve ditched “drill and kill” — otherwise known as the basics — for costly educational fads ranging from “Mayan Math” to “Everyday Math” that substitute art, self-esteem and multiculturalism for the fundamentals of computation.

— Among the supposedly cutting-edge programs funded by Obama’s federal stimulus program is the $49 million technology initiative for the Detroit Public Schools. The urban school system is overrun by corruption, violence and incompetence. The teachers union sabotaged classroom instruction and denied schoolchildren an education through an apparent illegal work stoppage. Yet, Washington went ahead and forked over a whopping $530 million in federal porkulus funds to reward yet more Detroit government school failure and bail out the reckless-spending boobs who mismanaged the DPS budget and engineered a fiscal crisis. The $49 million technology program distributed some 40,000 new (foreign-made) ASUS netbook computers, plus thousands of printers, scanners and desktop computers to teachers and kids from early childhood through 12th grade.

One teacher was caught late last year trying to pawn his shiny new booty. No doubt, he has company. Nationwide, in both urban and rural school districts, large and small, these technology infusions have turned out to be gesture-driven boondoggles and political payoffs that squander precious educational resources — with little, if any, measurable academic benefits.

Mark Lawson, school board president of one of New York state’s first districts to put technology directly in students’ hands, told The New York Times in 2007: “After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none. The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.”

That about sums up federal intervention in public schooling: It’s a taxpayer-subsidized distraction to the local educational process that throttles true competition, rewards failure and mistakes blind government largesse for achievement.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Regnery 2010).

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Obama’s Louis XV Orgy Of Spending

(Let them eat cake)

By Charles Krauthammer

The Palm Beach Post
FEBRUARY 18, 2011

Unlike the French monarch, Obama is in denial of the coming deluge.

Five days before his inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama told the Washington Post that entitlement reform could no longer be kicked down the road. He then spent the next two years kicking and racking up $3 trillion in new debt along the way on the grounds that massive temporary deficit spending was necessary to prevent another Great Depression.

To prove his bona fides, he later appointed a deficit-reduction commission. It made its report last December, when the economy was well past recession, solemnly declaring that the era of debt denial is over.

That lasted all of two months. The president’s first post-commission budget, marks a return to obliviousness. Even Erskine Bowles, Obama’s Democratic debt-commission co-chair, says it goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.” The budget touts a deficit reduction of $1.1 trillion over the next decade.

Where to begin? Even if you buy this number, Obama’s budget adds $7.2 trillion in new debt over that same decade.

But there is a catch. The administration assumes economic-growth levels higher than private economists and the Congressional Budget Office predict. Without this rosy scenario, using CBO growth estimates, $1.7 trillion of revenue disappears and U.S. debt increases $9 trillion over the next decade. This is almost $1 trillion every year.

Assume you buy the rosy scenario. Of what does this $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction consist? Painful cuts? Think again. It consists of $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, plus an odd $328 billion of some mysterious bipartisan funding for a transportation trust fund (gas taxes, one supposes) for a grand total of nearly $2 trillion in new taxes.

Classic Obama debt reduction: Add $2 trillion in new taxes, then add another $1 trillion in new spending and, presto, you’ve got $1 trillion of debt reduction. It’s the same kind of mad deficit accounting in Obamacare: It reduces debt by adding $540 billion in new spending, then adding $770 billion in new taxes. Presto: $230 billion of “debt reduction.”- Bialystock & Bloom accounting.

And what of those “painful cuts” Obama is making to programs he really cares about? The catch is that these cuts are from a hugely inflated new baseline created by the orgy of spending in Obama’s first two years. These were supposedly catastrophe-averting, anti-Depression emergency measures. But post-recession they remain in place. As a result, discretionary non-defense budget levels today are 24 percent higher than before Obama – 84 percent higher if you add in the stimulus money.

Which is why the supposedly painful cuts yield spending still at stratospheric levels. After all the cuts, Department of Education funding for 2012 remains 35 percent higher than in the last pre-emergency pre-Obama year, 2008. Environmental Protection Agency: 18 percent higher. Department of Energy: 22 percent higher. Consider even the biggest painful cut headline of all, the 50 percent cut in fuel subsidies for the poor. Barbaric, is it not? Except for the fact that the subsidies had been doubled from 2008 levels. The draconian cut is nothing but a return to normal pre-recession levels.

Yet all this is penny-ante stuff. The real money is in entitlements. And the real scandal of this budget is that Obama doesn’t touch them. Not Social Security. Not Medicaid. Not Medicare.

What about tax reform, the other major recommendation of the deficit commission? Nada.

How about just a subset of that corporate tax reform, on which Republicans have signaled they are eager to collaborate? The formula is simple: Eliminate the loopholes to broaden the tax base, then lower the rates for everyone, promoting both fairness and economic efficiency. What does the Obama budget do? Removes tax breaks and then keeps the rate at 35 percent, among the highest in the industrialized world (more than twice Canada’s, for example).

Yet for all its gimmicks, this budget leaves the country at decade’s end saddled with publicly held debt triple what Obama inherited.

A more cynical budget is hard to imagine. This one ignores the looming debt crisis, shifts all responsibility for serious budget-cutting to the Republicans for which Democrats are ready with a two-year, full-artillery demagogic assault and sets Obama up perfectly for re-election in 2012.

Obama fancies his happy talk, debt-denial optimism to be Reaganesque. It’s more Louis XV. Reagan begat a quarter-century of prosperity; Louis, the deluge. Moreover, unlike Obama, Louis had the decency to admit he was forfeiting the future. He never pretended to be winning it.

Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2011 Washington Post Writers Group.

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Obama/Clinton/Rice Un Veto Not The Pro-Israel Action You Might Think

1. Avoiding euphoria over Obama

By Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post Online, February 22, 2011

2. Dissenting Opinion
By Jerome S. Kaufman

Below Leibler article

A strange euphoria seems to have blinded some Israelis and American Jews concerning the context of President Barack Obama’s veto of a UN resolution.
In the past, blatantly one-sided anti-Israeli resolutions were vetoed as a matter of course. On this occasion, the issue was complicated because of the Obama administration’s disastrous, long-standing obsession with the settlements, which paved the way for the unprecedented Palestinian demand for a settlement freeze as a precondition to negotiations.

Desperate to avoid employing the veto, Obama extended extraordinary concessions to the Palestinians if they agreed to modify the language of the resolution. He offered a Security Council “presidential statement” expressing identical views to the resolution condemning the Jewish presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He was willing to endorse a Russian proposal for a Security Council fact-finding mission on settlements and a proposed expansion of the Quartet’s involvement to cover areas ranging from the 1967 borders to the political status of Jerusalem. According to The Wall Street Journal, at the last moment Obama phoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas offering to endorse or abstain on the resolution if the Palestinians agreed to replace the word “illegal” with “illegitimate” in relation to settlements.

Normal procedure after such a vote would have been a simple US statement that the resolution was one-sided and that the Security Council was not the venue to engage in this issue. It could also have noted that Israel had frozen settlements for 10 months while the Palestinians still refused to negotiate.
Instead, US Ambassador Susan Rice made a supplementary statement condemning settlements, employing some of the most vehement language against the Jewish state ever used by a senior US official.

THAT ABBAS refused to accept Obama’s extraordinary offers reflects the fact that the Palestinians are now being hoisted by their own petard. Their incitement has been so effective that following the Al Jazeera disclosures of concessions discussed behind closed doors – which they had no intention of ever implementing or even revealing to their people – they cannot now contemplate the slightest compromise without being condemned as traitors.

With global anti-Israeli hostility combining with the seething cauldron of revolution in the Arab world, Abbas is confident that by avoiding negotiations, he will oblige the Obama administration to intensify pressure on Israel.
He also appreciates the effectiveness of engaging in “lawfare” rather than terrorism, with a massive program of demonization, boycott and delegitimization in the UN pipeline where the most outrageously anti-Israeli resolutions are guaranteed an automatic majority.

We can anticipate a cascade of resolutions seeking to transform Israel into a pariah state, accusing it of breaching international law, branding its leaders as war criminals and seeking to drag it into the International Court of Justice.
The US relationship now assumes even greater importance to our security, both militarily and diplomatically. In this context, despite harsh criticism from the political Right, full credit should be accorded to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his diplomatic tightrope walk with the Obama administration.

He made concessions, but succeeded in resisting the most outrageous demands, thus averting a catastrophic breakdown in relations. It is likely that despite the disastrous consequences of Obama’s failed efforts to engage with rogue states, were he not facing reelection, he would not allow Israel’s security to stand in the way of his efforts to appease the Islamic world.

But despite his groveling to the Palestinians before and after the UN Security Council resolution, he was ultimately obliged to exercise the US veto for the first time since he gained office. He did so only out of a realization that he would have faced widespread condemnation from Congress and even his own party had he failed to do so.

But our problems will intensify in the months to come. It is chilling to contemplate how the administration may seek to “balance” its veto by imposing new pressures on Israel, which could soon be facing rejectionist states on most of its borders. We must now invest all our resources into strengthening US-Israel ties. We are fortunate that the military support under the Obama administration has been strengthened. But in light of uncertainties with the new Egypt, and Iran’s growing regional influence, that support assumes an even greater importance.

The Netanyahu government must now ensure that the Obama administration does not have a pretext for abandoning us in the diplomatic arena. It must urgently craft strategies to deal with the difficult days ahead.
We need to reiterate our willingness for a two-state regime. But that can only be implemented when the Palestinian leaders are ready for peace, are willing to tell their people the truth, and when it is clear that as the IDF departs, the West Bank will not be transformed into Hamastan.

UNFORTUNATELY, this is unlikely in the foreseeable future. For now, all we can do is continue enhancing the economic status of the Palestinians and seek interim solutions. This may give them the incentive to choose leaders willing to accept peace. There are difficult decisions to be made on issues that impinge on our national security that can no longer be held in abeyance because of short-term political interests. If we fail to move in this direction, we will face determined efforts to impose a solution which could place our future in jeopardy. We should also identify those territories we would annex if the Palestinians unilaterally abrogate the Oslo Accords and declare an independent state.

Our government – preferably a unity government – can no longer prevaricate; it must now bite the bullet and make the tough decisions about borders, security and settlements that a majority of the nation will endorse.
We must have a comprehensive plan if we are to persuade the American public and Congress to remain steadfast. Otherwise, the Obama administration might throw us to the wolves.

ileibler@netvision.net.il

2. Dissenting Opinion
By Jerome S. Kaufman

I could not disagree with Leibler’s recommendations more. Israel with Netanyahu continuing to walk a “tight rope” and attempting to pacify Obama and the ridiculous demands of the UN and the Palestinian Arabs is a dangerous, self-deluding, waste of time and each concession only whets their appetites further. Is it not obvious that over 60 years of attempted negotiations with the Arabs and the UN and the US have completely failed? And that only Israel’s strength, dedication and resolve has kept it alive?

Yes, it is time to “bite the bullet” but Leibler and I have the wrong bullet in mind. Israel must depend entirely on its own strength, its own territorial integrity, its own brains and the courage of its dedicated people. It is also imperative to wean itself away from its US Banana Republic status. The Israelis must intensify the development of their own resources (and, there is no doubt that the recent natural gas discovery off Israel’s coast is a G-d send in this direction), further develop their own defense industry, their own military aircraft and maintain every inch of territory now in their possession and vital to their defense. Giving up the Jordan Valley or the Judean Mt. ridge of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is tantamount to suicide.

The thought of a PA state one minute from Israel whose only goal will always be the destruction of Israel is too ludicrous to remotely consider. The name of the game is strength and always wiil be. And, anything Israel does to diminish its own strength in any way, is an abomination. The Obama led US is finding that out very quickly. Diminishing US strength in the world and in space has only resulted in the virtual shrinking of this country on the world stage. It has also directly weakened all of our allies in the world including its only real ally in the Middle East – The state of Israel.

Wake up US. Wake up Israel. Where is Israel’s Winston Churchill? Where is the US’s Winston Churchill? We are at war and not against some sick euphemism called “Terrorism” We are at war against a revived Islam whose goal is our specific destruction and world domination. The term World Caliphate is not melodramatic Right wing hysteria. Its threat is fast upon us. And, to our great detriment, we have no Winston Churchill but rather a so-called leadership that is pathetic.

Jerome S. Kaufman

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