Friday, July 16, 2010

Obey spanks Arne

The Fiscal Times' Washington Editor Eric Pianin talked to Rep. David R. Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday, July 13, in his office at the Capitol. Here are some excerpts:
The secretary of Education is whining about the fact he only got 85 percent of the money he wanted So, when we needed money, we committed the cardinal sin of treating him like any other mere mortal. We were giving them over $10 billion in money to help keep teachers on the job, plus another $5 billion for Pell, so he was getting $15 billion for the programs he says he cares about, and it was costing him $500 million [in reductions to the Race to the Top program]. Now that’s a pretty damn good deal...

We gave [Duncan] $4.3 billion in the stimulus package, no questions asked. He could spend it any way he wants. … I trusted the secretary, so I gave him a hell of a lot more money than I should have....'
My point is that I have been working for school reform long before I ever heard of the secretary of education, and long before I ever heard of Obama. And I’m happy to welcome them on the reform road, but I’ll be damned if I think the only road to reform lies in the head of the Secretary of Education....

We were told we have to offset every damn dime of [new teacher spending]. Well, it ain’t easy to find offsets, and with all due respect to the administration their first suggestion for offsets was to cut food stamps... Their line of argument was, well, the cost of food relative to what we thought it would be has come down, so people on food stamps are getting a pretty good deal in comparison to what we thought they were going to get. Well isn’t that nice. Some poor bastard is going to get a break for a change.

On teachers' unions and education policy:

I have been the leading proponent of funding for education for the last 15 years in this Congress at least. … And I’ve had a hell of a lot of experience fighting teachers unions, school boards, school superintendents, the whole damn bunch when I thought they were wrong. I don’t need any lectures from the secretary of Education or the president of the United States in terms of my willingness to take on teachers’ organizations.


  1. This is great. Thank you, Mike, and rock on Obey!

  2. Obey was awesome during the HCR debates. If this money really does mean we're keeping teachers in schools, then I'm all for it, especially coming from him. To be honest, though, that last paragraph still strikes me as odd, and that's probably why you highlighted it.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.