By Hans Bader
The richest county in America, Loudoun County, Virginia, used money from the Obama administration’s $10 billion teacher-bailout program to give teachers a paid vacation. The Obama administration claimed the costly bailout was needed to prevent widespread layoffs of teachers, but
few school systems ever planned layoffs, so now the $10 billion is being used on other things, some of them having nothing to do with teachers. The Washington Post notes that three months ago, “President Obama signed a bill including $10 billion to stave off what he and Democrats in Congress described as an impending nationwide teacher layoff crisis. . .’We can’t stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe,’ Mr. Obama said at a Rose Garden signing ceremony.”
As the Post notes, Obama’s claims were “the political equivalent of false advertising. . .The layoff threat was exaggerated and could have been mitigated by modest union concessions; in any case, the bill did not target states with the biggest budget problems. The fine print in fact allowed states to spend the money on practically any education employment-related purpose, up to and including salary increases.”
The state governments will never have to pay back any of this bailout money, which rewards them for irresponsibly increasing their employees’ pay much faster than inflation, to levels much higher than in the private sector. While millions of private sector employees have been laid off in the current recession, few government employees have been.
Earlier, Obama’s allies in Congress proposed spending billions to bail out mismanaged and underfunded union pension funds. Think tanks tied to the Obama administration recently floated the idea of a new trillion-dollar mortgage bailout, for mortgages held by two mortgage giants.