The GOP is responding to allegations that No Child Left Behind is an "unfunded mandate" and that not enough federal dollars are being appropriated for it. This week, House education committee chairman John Boehner issued a letter to Republican colleagues (not available online) that charged Democrats with demagoguery on this issue, while Education Secretary Rod Paige echoed that in a Wall Street Journal column. Both made a technical argument about the difference between "authorization" and "appropriation" and a more philosophical argument about how America's education woes are not caused by too little money. But old habits die hard. Both Paige and Boehner began their defense by recounting just how much money the Bush administration HAS thrown at Title I education - $11.7 billion in fiscal year 2003 - which rather seems to give away the argument before it's even begun. When will Republicans learn that they never win these "bidding wars" and it's folly to engage in them?
"It's not about the money," by Rod Paige, Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2003 (subscription required)