The Obama Executive Order list is growing. Proclaiming “We Can’t Wait,” the White House has become comfortable going around Congress with the excuse that gridlock is getting in the way of saving the economy. The new immunity program for illegals shows just how far this administration is willing to go to keep supporters happy. With a new school year getting underway and the election looming closer, is the next order going to require us to pay teacher salaries to placate unions?
The Obama “executive action” list gets longer.
Blurring the distinction between Executive Orders and independent executive action, last week the White House added another entry to the “We Can’t Wait” list, scratching up nearly half a billion dollars for state infrastructure projects. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared:
Over the last decade, Congress has set aside $473 million in transportation funds that were never spent. These idle earmarks have sat on the shelf as our infrastructure continues to age and fall into disrepair, and hundreds of thousands of construction workers look for work. That ends today.¹
Public employees and their unions are still waiting for a bailout to pay first responder and teacher salaries while the president demands action from Congress. When will their bailout come and how will the president pull this one off?
Teachers and unions are still waiting for their cut.
Arne Duncan has done his best to ensure that teachers’ unions have their say in what happens in our classrooms (see: Will Republicans Go to War Over Public School Reform?). As Chicago teachers prepare for a new school year strike and news broadcasts show clips of strike signs being prepared, we are reminded of what happens when government runs afoul of unions controlling public services.
The president’s American Jobs Act included aggressive “Teacher Stabilization” funding to pay teacher salaries:
Preventing up to 280,000 teacher layoffs while keeping cops and firefighters on the job.²
That effort failed last year. What comes next?
Is an emergency Executive Order to pay teacher salaries on the way?
During an Iowa campaign stop the president declared:
We’ve got too many great teachers to hire.³
Yesterday’s weekly address continued the harangue over funding teacher salaries:
States should be making education a priority in their budgets, even in tough fiscal times. And Congress should be willing to help out – because this affects all of us.4
Given the Obama administration’s threatening mantra “Where they won’t act, I will,”5 Saturday’s speech sounded like a warning of things to come:
But here we are – a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off – and Congress still hasn’t done anything about it.6
Arne Duncan’s 2012 Back-to-School Bus Tour is skipping his former stomping grounds.7 Chicago’s beleaguered public school system may well be on strike by the time Duncan arrives in Illinois. The American Jobs Act planned to spread the responsibility for Illinois teacher salaries and education infrastructure projects to the nation, requesting $1.235 billion in funding for 14,500 teacher jobs ($85,172.41 per teacher job) and $1.32 billion for 17,200 modernization jobs8 complete with Davis-Bacon union wage requirements. Illinois estimates that within the next few years more money will be going to public pensions than education, but another attempt last Friday to address pension costs hit a brick wall. Unfortunately, lack of money for education does not mean that Illinois will change its ways. It just changes where the money comes from.
The president has not forgotten what happened to his American Jobs Act or to unions in states running out of money for education spending. The White House PR line is that we are slashing funding to give tax cuts to the rich. Instead, the Obama administration would force us to give money to public employees and unions, spreading the cost and punishing residents in fiscally responsible states for the actions of irretrievable spenders like Illinois. Look for a few more surprises before November as Mr. Obama becomes bolder with his one man approach to fixing the economy. Are teacher salaries next on his Executive Order list?