Skip to comments.College Access And Opportunity Act - More Pork And Empty Promises From The GOP?
Posted on 03/30/2006 5:18:41 PM PST by E-Mat
Stealthily working its way through congress is a bill which the Congressional Budget Office projects will cost at least $37 billion over the next 5 years if passed as currently written.
Yet we find that at a time when concerned parties are calling attention to increasing deficit spending the House leadership is either unwilling or unable to provide any guidance on the degree to which this bill will impact the budget.
Repeated calls to Majority Leader Boehner's office and the House Education & the Workforce Committee for clarification have not been returned.
The legislation in question is H.R. 609, the "College Access and Opportunities Act" and it's a major rewrite of the 1965 Higher Education Act, a remnant of Lyndon Johnson's failed "Great Society" social engineering.
This bill is the handiwork of Majority Leader John Boehner [R-OH]. The GOP fact sheet touts the legislation as being all things to all people; increasing access and aid levels while decreasing costs - a dubious proposition that doesn't pass the "smell test."
"The College Access & Opportunity Act (H.R. 609) will strengthen and improve the nations higher education system by expanding college access for low- and middle-income students. The bill will reauthorize discretionary programs of the Higher Education Act (HEA), including the student aid programs in Title IV, teacher training programs, graduate study, international and foreign language programs, and institutional programs. The Deficit Reduction Act (S. 1932), signed into law by President Bush in February 2006, reauthorized mandatory spending programs under the Higher Education Act and included protections for taxpayers coupled with key benefits for students. The bill generated billions in savings to help reduce the federal deficit while directing significant resources to expand college access." - H.R. 609 Bill Summary The Congressional Budget Office, CBO prepared a cost estimate of the bill on September 16, 2005 but as of this writing the analysis is incomplete, "but CBO has not completed an analysis of the bill's potential impact on discretionary spending."
It is important to note that because of the sleight-of-hand manner in which the U.S. Congress accounts for appropriations, it is possible to claim cost cuts while actually increasing overall spending within a program.
CBO's bottom line at this point seems to be:
"The provisions in the bill that would result in the largest increases in spending are the changes to origination fees and insurance premiums paid by borrowers, increases in loan limits, and modifications to the Perkins Loan Revolving fund. The estimated costs resulting from these portions of H.R. 609 total $4.0 billion over the 2006-2010 period and $16.2 billion over the 2006-2015 period." - CBO Initial Study The bill itself is being marketed in a manner reminiscent of the way that a party platform is sold, with various constituencies being offered baubles of questionable value.
For example a March 28 press release from the Majority Leader's office touting an "Academic Bill of Rights" provision in the bill, worked out by Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) and Conference Vice Chair Jack Kingston (R-GA).
Attempting to reduce the influence of the leftist stranglehold on higher education is a laudable goal, however this "Bill of Rights" provision is non-binding and totally without enforcement provisions. As such its a "Sense of Congress" sham that merely "encourages colleges and universities to tell students what rights they can expect on that particular campus."
Another aspect of the marketing of H.R. 609 is a change to Title VI of the 1965 Education Act that is intended to provide more "balance" at college level Mid East studies centers, a desirable proposition.
While there can be no doubt that Mid-East studies centers are hotbeds of Islamist agitation we do not see how a turnaround in those programs can be forced by the proposed creation of a lofty sounding "Higher Education Advisory Board" - within Title VI - to advise the Secretary of Education and Congress on how to guarantee that anti-Western influence in Mid-East studies programs will cease.
Without a serious confrontation - something this Congress, this President and his minions such as the State Department's ambassador of dhimmitude, Karen Hughes, have been refused to do - with the American Islamist superstructure, headed by groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] and the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA], nothing will change.
Those in Congress who are opposed to the creation of Jihad Universities might more profitably investigate how the $20 million dollar grants from Saudi Wahhabists which were recently made to Harvard and Georgetown might be halted, rather than PR friendly ploys which - at best - tinker with discredited 40 year-old ideas.
Rather than providing a start to dealing with the problems that conservatives see in U.S. higher education, H.R. 609 is merely a hastily cobbled together piece of legislation, built upon the ruins of Lyndon Johnson's social agenda, designed to curry favor among voters with college aged children and marketed as something which it is not.
If the House Leadership thinks this will endear them to the grassroot activists, they have misjudged the level of tumult in those circles mightily.
But then again, I'm an "extremist" conservative, too.
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