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GOP Pledges to Rein in Spending, But Offers No New K-12 Ideas

Republicans say they'll crack down on spending, possibly even taking back unspent stimulus funds, if they're able to take over the U.S House of Representatives after the October midterm elections. That's according to a widely circulated draft of the GOP's Pledge to America, a sort of to-do list for Republican leaders being officially released today.

Here are some important graphs:

Act Immediately to Reduce Spending:There is no reason to wait to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending. Congress should move immediately to cancel unspent "stimulus" funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending "stimulus" funds. Throwing more money at a stimulus plan that is not working only wastes taxpayer money and puts us further in debt.

Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels: With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children's future

Establish a Hard Cap on New Discretionary Spending: We must put common-sense limits on the growth of government and stop the endless increases. Only in Washington is there an expectation that whatever your budget was last year, it will be more this year and even more the next. We will set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis. Budget caps were used in the 1990s, when a Republican Congress was able to bring the budget into balance and eventual surplus. By cutting discretionary spending from current levels and imposing a hard cap on future growth, we will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars


On the stimulus idea ... It's tough to say without seeing legislative language, but I would wonder if this would mean Republicans would want to take back money for programs (like Race to the Top and the Teacher Incentive Fund) that has been allocated but not actually drawn down. Of course, there was a huge dust-up when Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee tried to do something really similar. President Barack Obama threatened to veto an education jobs bill he really wanted to see pass, rather than see Race to the Top cut. And of course, even if the Republicans take over, Obama will still be in the White House for at least two years and can refuse to sign bills he doesn't like.

There's no mention of K-12 policy in the document, which surprises me. I would have expected, at that very least, to see something about the need to reinstate vouchers, if only in Washington, D.C. But maybe any spending is uncool, even if it's for something that many Republicans like.

Still, if you're interested in the K-12 views of one very powerful House Republican, check out this interview with Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, the top GOP lawmaker on the House Education and Labor Committee. Kline would be in line to head up the panel if the Republicans take the House.

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