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Edujobs: What Might Be Some Other Offsets?

So, yesterday we wrote about a proposal from Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., to cut $800 million in Obama administration education priorities as part of a wider effort to provide $10 billion to thwart teacher layoffs and nearly $5 billion to fill a major shortfall in the Pell Grant program.

The proposed cuts include $500 million from Race to the Top, $200 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund, and $100 million intended for charters.

The U.S. Department of Education and some moderate Democrats are urging Obey to find other areas to cut instead. Even the Washington Post editorial board has weighed in.

Peter Cunningham, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, reiterated to me today that the department would like to help Congress identify other offsets.

The question is, will Obey and company go along with that? And if they do, what could those other cuts be?

A House aide told me that the U.S. Department of Education and the White House knew about the proposed rescissions before the bill was released and failed to offer any workable alternatives.

I wonder which programs the administration put on the table or would want to suggest now.

In a letter to his congressional colleagues yesterday, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., suggested trimming programs that are "already identified as ineffective by the Congressional Budget Office."

My guess, based on no inside information, is that the administration and others might point to programs that have been slated for elimination in the president's fiscal year 2011 budget.

Those could include, for instance, the $8.8 million Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners program. That program "supports culturally based educational activities, internships, apprenticeship programs and exchanges for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, children, and families of Massachusetts, and any federally recognized Indian tribe in Mississippi." Not exactly the sort of national competition the department is seeking through Race to the Top.

The administration might also point to the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program, financed at $63.9 million, which offers grants to states to establish need-based post-secondary scholarships and has "accomplished its objective," according to the budget documents.

Of course, cutting just those programs doesn't quite get to $800 million, and even some of those small, narrow programs have powerful congressional champions. Any cut could be tough.

Where do you think the offsets should come from? Or did Obey make the right call?

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