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  • Spending Power is Bargaining Power: No Wall, No Dept Ed

Spending Power is Bargaining Power: No Wall, No Dept Ed

William L. Kovacs

June 2022

Spending Power is Bargaining Power: No Wall, No Dept Ed

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.

order generic neurontin 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. On the reading portion of the SAT, test scores dropped from 530 in 1972 to 494 in 2016.
  6. 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.







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  • A Scholarship for Every Student, Why Not We Pay for It Now!

A Scholarship for Every Student, Why Not We Pay for It Now!

William L. Kovacs

November 2021

A Scholarship for Every Student, Why Not We Pay for It Now!

The local, state, and federal governments already spend more, on average, on public education, than it would cost to award a scholarship to every student equal to the average cost of education in the U.S. Unfortunately, most of our taxpayer dollars just go to public schools that are very expensive, union-controlled, and do not produce results. For taxpayers to get value for their dollars, the money should follow the student and let the student and parents choose the school. If public schools want to stay in business, the motto should be “Let Them Compete for Students.” The competition will also foster much-needed creativity in the fossilized Teachers’ Unions.

buy Seroquel no rx The Number of Students: The Census estimates there are 53,591,620, K-12 students in the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics and the Council for American Private Education, estimate approximately 48.6 million of these students are in public schools. 5.7 million are in private school, which is comprised of Catholic (53%), nonsectarian (14.8%), conservative Christian (12%), and other religious (19.3). Since all the numbers are estimates, and school populations change yearly, the number of students does not add up as neatly as numbers on a corporate balance sheet. There is a small discrepancy in the different estimates, so for ease of calculating let’s round off the number of U.S. students to 54 million nationwide.

Cost Per Student: In constant 2019-2020 dollars, the cost per student in public education is $ 14,891, which includes teachers, capital expenditures, and interest payments. The total cost of public education in the U.S. is $762 billion.

The average cost per student across all of private education for its 5.7 million students is $10,740.00. This is the average of Catholic schools, $6,890; other religious schools, $8,690 and non-sectarian private schools, $21,510. Using the averages, the total annual cost of private school education is a little over $61 billion.

Total Cost of K-12 Education: The cumulative cost of educating all K-12 students in the United States is $762 billion in taxpayer funding for public education and another $61 billion in parent funding for private schools. Total funding for U.S. K-12 education is $823 billion or $15,240 per student.

Total Taxpayer Funding for Education in the U.S. that Can Be Distributed as Scholarships to Students: Taxpayers provide $762 billion to public schools and another $202 billion dollars to run the U.S. Department of Education, for a total expenditure of $964 billion. Since total K-12 education (public and private) is $ 823 billion, there is more than enough taxpayer funding for education to award a $15,240 scholarship to every K-12 student in the U.S. for use at the school of their choice and have $ 143 million left over.

The U.S. spends more on education per student than 33 of the 36 OECD countries. Only Luxenberg, Austria, and Norway spend more, yet the U.S. ranks 28th in math worldwide, 18th in reading, and 22nd in science. Clearly, the American taxpayer is not getting value for its money spent on its public school system.

Students Will Use Taxpayer Scholarships More Wisely than Government Directives: Almost every indicator on educational satisfaction finds private schools provide better-educated students, more satisfaction with teachers, happier parents, higher test scores, more advanced course of studies taken, and better and more manageable class sizes.

A Gallup poll of Americans found “Seventy-eight percent of Americans say children educated in private schools receive an excellent or good education.” It also found 69% believed parochial or religious schools provided an excellent or good quality education. Only 30% believed public schools provided an excellent or good education.

Parents of students attending private schools were substantially happier with the private school’s performance than parents of public schools, by significant margins. Private school parents had a substantially higher favorability rating for all aspects of school life than parents of public-school students. Specifically, there is a 78% to 57% public vs private favorability for teachers, 78% to 55% for academic standards, 83% to 56% for school discipline, and 81% to 56% for overall school satisfaction.

Another benefit of private school education is that students are more likely to have higher SAT scores, and attain college degrees. For private schools, the national average SAT score is Private 1230, whereas nationwide, the average test score is 1051.

The resources for providing good education to all students are available now. Students and parents will select the best school for the student; private, public, or trade. By allowing students to control their futures, rather than an authoritarian teacher’s union, out-of-touch school boards, or federal regulation writer, students will determine their educational path and career goals.

Action Items:

  1. Each state and local school authority can redirect all current education funding from school districts to the students in those districts in the form of scholarships to be used for tuition at the school of their choice.
  2. Congress should abolish the U.S. Department of Education. All funds presently appropriated to the U.S. Department of Education would be allocated to the states to fully fund student scholarships to the amount of $15,240 per student. The remaining $ 143 billion could be used by the federal government to reduce the federal deficit.

William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice-president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, chief-counsel to a congressional committee, a partner in D.C. law firms, and his book Reform the Kakistocracy is the winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change.