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Would Bailout Affect Obama's Education Spending Plan?


Earlier this year, Sen. Barack Obama put forth a plan to provide an $18 billion-a-year boost in spending on early education and K-12 education, to help pay for a teacher-training initiative, leadership development, improved assessments, and other proposals. The Democratic presidential nominee said he would pay for the increase in a "fiscally responsible" way, by reducing earmarks, overhauling federal contracting procedures, auctioning off surplus federal property, and other measures.

But that was before the federal government was poised to spend some $700 billion--or even as much as $1 trillion dollars by some accounts--trying to avert a financial meltdown on Wall Street.

To put that number in perspective, the entire appropriation for discretionary spending by the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal year 2008 was $59.2 billion. So the proposed bailout is roughly 14 times the entire department's budget, which includes grants to districts to help educate disadvantaged kids, spending on students in special education, and money for Pell Grants and other college access programs.

Obama hasn't come out and said that the Wall Street bailout would put the kibosh on, or even signficantly curtail, his education spending plan. But this weekend, The Washington Post reported that it's tough to see how either Obama or Sen. John McCain would be able to push significant domestic initiatives if he is elected in November, given the likely price tag of the bailout proposal.

Obama is reported as saying that the bailout wouldn't change his plan to cut taxes for the middle class. But he didn't say anything about revising his domestic-spending proposals.

Even before the bailout was in the works, McCain said he would freeze most domestic spending, including education programs. Last week, the Republican nominee's top education adviser, Lisa Graham Keegan, cited the troubles on Wall Street as one of the reasons that education spending isn't likely to see big increases, at least during the early years of a McCain administration.


When glancing at Sen. Obama’s Emergency Economic Plan, one would notice that he plans to create a $25 billion public fund to help pay for providing health, housing and education assistance without having to raise taxes. And, a Sept. 9 CNN article described an ad released by the Obama campaign suggesting that Sen. McCain’s economic plan would, in fact, divert much-needed funding from public education. Obama’s plan includes providing funding for early-childhood education programs and Head Start preschools and increasing funding for “responsible” charter schools (according to an NY Times blog) to provide more school choice all Americans. And, in my opinion, Obama’s aims, particularly to increase early childhood education, are admirable. Even Sarah Palin has said she supports early childhood education and education for special needs children, promising families of special need children they would “have a friend in the White House” if she were elected.
But, the faltering economy certainly throws some of Obama’s aims into shadow. Will the as much as a trillion dollars the government plans to spend to bail out big business as the economy falters cut into the $25 billion Obama planned to set aside to support his education plans among other things? It seems likely that, no matter what the candidates’ intentions, there will be little money left over for any new iniatives until the economy has taken major steps toward recovery.
But, estimates for how long it will take for the economy to big an upswing range from two years to a much longer period, which calls into question when it would be possible for Obama to implement such big education spending, if at all. So far, I have not seen Obama make any comments as to whether the economic bailout would substantially lessen the amount he plans to spend on education, but am anxious to hear how both he and Sen. McCain plan to revise their economic proposals to reflect the current economic climate.

obama should win his awesome ans has better oportunities

I think your post brings up some really great points. Voters need to remind themselves when politicians cite lofty goals for the economy, education, AND foreign affairs, that normally only one takes precedence during their time in office. With a finite number of financial resources, we can't assume education will be fairly represented. We should make sure to take a more active role in demonstrating the DEMAND for educational resources, despite the hope we might have in a new administration's promises of educational reform.

As someone who is particularly interested in Geography education (which has been historically neglected and underestimated), I can see how this current economic crisis can have far-reaching effects into the educational health of our nation. The lack of funding and awareness for geography has resulted in a nation of geographically illiterate students (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/roper2006/findings.html), which affects the way our kids understand the global economy, international business, and world politics, to name a few. If we let our children's general education become neglected as their geographic education has, seven billion dollars will only be the starting cost to an immeasurable debt. We have to remind our government that today’s economy means nothing if we're not educating future generations to intelligently lead it.

Excuse me: the seven HUNDRED billion dollar proposal.

I still haven't grasped the ridiculousness of that number.

After listening to the debate yesterday I can only say that even though some people may not agree with senator Obama one hundred percent, we can't affort more Bush and Republican politics.
Senator McCain said quit clearly: I would freeze everything but defense, war funding, and veterans help.
What about the rest of the American people? Just because we are nin the military does not mean we are not citizens or are second class citizens.
What about the future of our children? It is bad enough that they, their children, their children's children, and so on will have to pay for first of all the expenses of a war that we went into with lies, just for personal vendetta and oil, but also for the fail economic policies of this administration that is only worried with the interests of the one percent of Americans that are rich and does not care about the rest of us.
This time, the republicans are not using the fear of an inminent terrorist attack to win, or should we say steel, and elections but they are using the economic crisis to do it.

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