The Bombshell in the Boehner Plan
The New York Times reports that Speaker John Boehner’s latest proposed plan to bridge the debt ceiling impasse is being met with opposition and delay.
That plan was originally scheduled to be voted on in the House today.
However, today’s vote wasn’t delayed because of the opposition. That would not have stopped Boehner. It was delayed mostly because the spending cut numbers didn’t work out.
“Vote on Boehner Plan Delayed Amid Opposition”
– New York Times, 7/27/2011
The plan is supposed to have $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years but the CBO reports it only has $850 billion in cuts.
“Congressional Budget Office Analysis of Latest Boehner Plan” – CBO Analysis Report, 7/26/2011
The New York Times story is a very nicely written little piece explaining the numeric error, the president’s threatened veto, why the plan is bad, what tea party opposition it faces, how it further fractures the Republican Party etc., etc., etc.
You know… all the usual stuff. Its just standard, run of the mill Republican criticism.
But the story overlooks a very, VERY interesting inclusion in the Boehner Plan and its political meaning.
So What Did The Mighty New York Times Overlook?
The third bullet item in the CBO analysis report linked to from the NYT story says:
- Make changes to the Pell Grant and Student Loan Programs
When you scan down the report to find out what that is all about it says on page 4 that funding for Pell Grants is INCREASED by $17 billion!
Hey… wait a minute… I thought the Boehner Plan is supposed to be cutting spending!
Why would a Republican bill to raise the debt ceiling and call for spending cuts actually increase spending for an obscure grant program when the other education programs are cut?
The Plot Thickens
The people who actually checked out candidate Barack Obama’s record of accomplishment before he was elected, if there are any of you, will recall that list only had two real items on it.
One was the “Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006” authored by Senator Obama and signed into law that provided $52 million in humanitarian and cultural aide to Africa.
The other, and very first bill Obama authored as a Senator, was the “Higher Education Opportunity Through Pell Grant Expansion Act“. It was to raise the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,100/student/yr.
Pell Grants are “need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education”.
Then Senator Obama credited being able to attended college to the Pell Grants that he himself had received and he wanted to expand that program to provide other low income students the same opportunity he’d had.
Though that one never became law, Obama re-wrote it into another bill for Ted Kennedy which ultimately got signed into law as the “College Cost Reduction and Access Act“.
The Plot Thickens Thicker
Hidden in the deep dark recesses of the infamous “stimulus” package, otherwise known as the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009“, was money to bump up Pell Grant funding again; now up to $5,500/student/yr.
That was added at the special request of the newly elected President and used his original Pell Grant bill as its model.
After “Stimulus” money ran out last December funding went back down again and the President was forced to reduce funding even further for his beloved Pell Grant program in his yet-to-be-passed 2012 budget.
And now this week, miraculously, we find Speaker Boehner finding $17 billion to bump Pell Grant funding back up to its previous $5,500 “stimulus” level again. And that is in a bill to raise the debt ceiling and make a trillion dollars in spending cuts.
Hmmmm… isn’t that special!!
Speaker John Boehner apparently included the Pell Grant piece in his new bill because he knows Obama has a soft spot for them. Boehner is playing a little insider politics to make his bill more acceptable to the President. (It hasn’t worked so far)
Why else would you increase spending for an obscure education grant program to the tune of $17 billion in a bill intended only to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending?
This is another example of the type of game playing shenanigans that politicians are still engaged in while the economic fate of the nation hangs in the balance!
They should be excoriated for playing games.
Shame on you New York Times! You should have picked up on that.