One good aspect of the stimulus package
The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.
The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.
Responding in part to a plea from Democratic governors earlier this month, Congress allocated $79 billion to help states facing large fiscal shortfalls maintain government services, and especially to avoid cuts to education programs, from pre-kindergarten through higher education.
Obama administration officials, teachers unions and associations representing school boards, colleges and other institutions in American education said the aid would bring crucial financial relief to the nation’s 15,000 school districts and to thousands of campuses otherwise threatened with severe cutbacks.
“This is going to avert literally hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.
So, it's a three-fer, at least:
1. Teachers, and educators are also (as it were) shovel ready -- and a bridge to the future.
2. These investments are more likely to be gender-neutral than construction projects, sad to say.
3. Since money's fungible, any help to states and localities puts money in the hands of direct providers of services and avoids layoffs.
Policy that meets a baseline of sanity! Now, this doesn't mean that the stimulus is large enough to succeed, or that sucking up to House Republicans -- who, since they can't filibuster, are as useless as tits on a bull, even if they did get it right on TARP -- isn't a potential "own goal." But still, a reasonably bright spot.
NOTE Of course, there is something for the banks as well:
One provision, which was sought by the student lending industry and went unmentioned in early Congressional summaries of the stimulus package, would temporarily increase subsidies to banks in the guaranteed student loan program by tying them to a new index, partly because recent federal intervention in the credit markets has invalidated the previous index. A spokesman for Sallie Mae, one of the largest student lenders, said the change was needed to keep student loan markets fluid. Critics said it represented a potential new windfall for lenders.
You know, if banks were regulated public utilities, all that nonsense would go away. I know what "keep the markets fluid" means. It means business as usual, with executive bonuses, slicing and dicing, and all the usual chicanery.