While Joe Biden has a long plagiarism record, he at least steals good lines. For the release of his FY 2023 budget, he attributed to his father a phrase borrowed from James Frick (first director of development for the University of Notre Dame), “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” Actual words of wisdom related to congressional spending power and Biden’s refusal to build a border wall or enforce immigration laws.
Biden knows what he values. Its time for Congress to respond with its own set of values. If Republicans take control of at least the House of Representatives, they should inform the president; that if he does not build the border wall and enforce immigration laws, it will not fund the Department of Education (“Dept. Ed”). While these issues are unrelated, combining them into one negotiation is legal, workable, and requires little effort by a Republican House.
The ability of Congress to place limits on an out-of-control federal government and a president that refuses to execute the laws of the land rests on how it uses the “spending power” granted by the Constitution. Congress, including Republican Congresses, have used this power to spend and spend more for a century. Today Congress is confronted by a spendthrift President that has intentionally opened the Southern Border of the U.S. to millions of illegals, including drug smugglers, sex traffickers, and terrorists. This deliberately reckless decision harms citizens, overwhelms small cities, and costs taxpayers billions. Courts have ordered Biden to enforce immigration laws, but his administration continues to implement its values.
Implied in congressional spending power is the power not to spend. With a $30 trillion national debt, Congress can no longer ignore its real power not to spend. Congress only debates the level of spending, never the fact that it does not have to appropriate any money for any program, for any reason. If one House of Congress refuses to spend money, that one Chamber can control the size and shape of government. More importantly, if the Executive acts unreasonably, one House of Congress can control the Executive by refusing to spend on the Executive branch’s priorities.
If Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives in 2023, they could impeach Biden, but a conviction is unlikely. They could try to pass a more restrictive immigration law, but they will not have the votes to override his veto. Republicans could continue whining on cable TV, which feeds their egos but little else. A more forceful alternative is to find creative ways to use its spending power.
Under the Origination and Spending Clauses of the Constitution, only Congress has the power to raise revenue and spend money. No power in the United States can make Congress appropriate money that it does not want to spend. While it takes both houses of Congress and the president to enact a new law or spend money, spending no money is different. If one House of Congress refuses to spend money, there is no authorized money to spend.
Why the Dept. Ed?
The Dept. Ed should be the center of the negotiations since it is owned and operated by Biden’s most significant political supporters, the teachers’ unions. The teachers’ unions donated $43 million to liberal groups in the 2020 election cycle.
The Dept. Ed is a perpetual pay-off to the teachers’ unions. Congress can use this sacred cow as a bargaining tool. The Dept. Ed is the platform that allows the teachers’ unions to foster the teaching of Critical Race Theory, impose mask mandates, and torture children’s minds by telling them they are born racists. The mere possibility of the teachers’ unions losing this power will likely persuade Democrats to accept the reality that building the border wall and enforcing immigration laws is a cheap price to pay to keep the Dept. Ed.
Using such leverage requires Congress to engage in high-level negotiations. If Biden concedes, the Republicans get the border wall and immigration enforcement. If Biden refuses to negotiate, the Republicans get to eliminate the agency they had wanted to eliminate since1980 when it was created.
Other than spending several trillion dollars to expand the educational bureaucracy, studies and test results establish the Dept. Ed has made little or no impact on education.
The Dept. Ed administers educational assistance, collects educational data, and enforces privacy and civil rights laws like destroying Title IX for women’s sports. Of the 15 cabinet-level agencies in the federal government, its $ 96 billion discretionary budget is the third largest of all departments, only behind Defense and Health and Human Services.
The Dept. Ed has not, in any manner, enhanced education in its 42 years of operation:
- The Programme for International Student Assessment (“PISA”) found that among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 18th in science.
- The same PISA study found that U.S. millennials in the workforce were tied for last on mathematics and problem-solving tests among the millennials in all the industrial countries tested.
- A National Assessment of Educational Progress study found that after 40 years of assistance, there has been no improvement in high school math and reading.
- A comparison of SAT scores from 1972 to 2021 illustrates that math scores remained flat, 509 in 1972 and 508 in 2016. The SAT was redesigned in 2017; unfortunately, the scores remained flat even on the redesigned test.
- On the reading portion of the SAT, test scores dropped from 530 in 1972 to 494 in 2016.
- The National Assessment of Education Progress (“NAEP”) analyzed the number of twelfth-grade students’ performances in science for 2009, 2015, and 2019. There was no change in achievement levels. The average science score of 150 for twelfth-grade students in 2019 was not significantly different compared to 2015 or 2009.
While it is unlikely Congress would ever voluntarily abolish this failed agency, it does have an opportunity to use it as a bargaining chip to have a border wall constructed finally and immigration laws enforced.