Betsey DeVos, Secretary of Education has done and is doing what every responsible head of a Federal Department should do. Now DeVos has done the unthinkable and has requested less money to run her department because she says it is not necessary. Of course, Marxist/Progressives (Democrats) and the Republican Establishment opposes this act of courage and responsibility on her part. The Marxist/Progressives (Democrats) and Republican Establishment oppose any reduction because the only way to accomplish their goals is to spend more money regardless of whether it is wise or necessary.
Here is an article from the Weekly Standard that details the courage and responsibility of DeVos and the hypocrisy and irresponsible reaction of the Washington DC swamp.
It’s not often that the head of a federal agency asks Congress for less money than the agency received the year before. So infrequent is it that one might reasonably assume the circumstance would generate some hint of intellectual curiosity on the part of reporters and politicos. If an agency head is asking for less money, not more, surely his or her reasons must at least be interesting.
Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos submitted her agency’s budget request to Congress, and her request included substantial funding reductions. DeVos asked for a decrease of $3.6 billion, or 5 percent, to specific department programs; and for an overall decrease of $9 billion, or 13 percent. The department’s budget proposal, the secretary remarked to a House subcommittee, “eliminates, streamlines, or reduces funding for many discretionary programs that do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, are ineffective, or are more appropriately supported with state, local, or private funds.”
Rather than excite curiosity, however, the secretary’s requests mostly elicited pro-forma condemnations from Democrats and the mainstream media, and silence from Republicans. Granted, executive agency budget requests are often ignored by lawmakers, but an agency requesting less money than it had the previous year—just think of it!—might have occasioned a moment or two of reflection and debate. It didn’t.
The Democrats and media took the usual line that requesting cuts in programs purporting to help low-income students can only mean one thing: indifference to the plight of low-income students. In some cases—for example, grants for mental-health services—the DeVos budget proposed cuts or eliminations because carryover funds from previous years have made further appropriations at least temporarily unnecessary. The secretary proposed cutting some after-school programs on the unassailable grounds that they can’t show evidence of meeting their objectives. Yet the media neglected to mention the agency’s reasoning, leaving the impression that DeVos just doesn’t like after-school programs.
Worst of all, perhaps, Democrats and their allies in the media portrayed DeVos’s request of a 1 percent cut to the education department’s Office for Civil Rights as though it were evidence of some nefarious intention to ignore or trample on civil rights. In truth, the department requested the decrease because it is processing civil rights claims at a much faster pace than the Obama administration did, and the new structure requires fewer bureaucrats.
But DeVos requested some budget increases, too—a scholarship program for low-income families to send their children to a school of their choice, a grant program that rewards open enrollment policies, and another program allowing states to start new charter schools and expand existing ones. Alas, enough Republicans in both House and Senate joined Democrats to sink most of these ideas and instead boost funding for most of those programs to which DeVos requested cuts.
That’s unfortunate. From its creation during the Carter administration, the federal Department of Education has tended to impinge on state prerogatives in education in deleterious ways, mainly by using federal money to bribe and cajole states into doing the bidding of federal education mandarins. The results haven’t been impressive. Nationwide, academic performance has not notably improved in the department’s nearly four decades of existence. Betsy DeVos, as Peter Boyer explained in our February 19 issue, has vowed to change that by returning power to the states and local school districts. Rolling back federal power over education will necessitate rolling back the federal education department’s massive budget.
Even if lawmakers have policy disagreements with DeVos, her proposals deserve to be heard—especially at a time when the federal debt has surpassed $21 trillion and Congress limps along from one shutdown crisis to the next. At such a time, the news that a government agency says it needs less money to meet its goals, not more, should have commanded attention. That it didn’t tells you all you need to know about Congress’s fiscal appetite.