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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.

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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  • Teachers Unions Treat Citizens as Commodities that Pay Taxes

Teachers Unions Treat Citizens as Commodities that Pay Taxes

William L. Kovacs

March 2021

Teachers Unions Treat Citizens as Commodities that Pay Taxes

This article started out to be a well-researched effort to identify all the legal avenues available to parents to force teachers unions and the teachers we pay every week, back to teaching our children in a classroom. My research found there is very little that parents/taxpayers can do to make teachers work for their money. Protecting teachers is federal sovereign immunity, state sovereign immunity, and state qualified immunity from suit unless there is some form of sexual assault involved. Also, there are unions and collective bargaining agreements that exclude parents from any voice in their child’s education. Simply, we parents/taxpayers are merely commodities that the teachers and their unions need so they can take our money whether they work or not.

I live in Fairfax County, Virginia and over half of my hefty tax payment goes to the $2.3 billion the county spends on schools and teachers each year. From a budget perspective, that is five times more than what is spent on public safety, fifty times more than on the administration of justice, and ten times more than on all of the health, welfare, community, and family services provided by the county.

Neither Fairfax County teachers nor students have been in the classroom since March 2020. A small number of students are now returning but will be supervised by non-teaching monitors, that certainly must be immune from Covid-19, if the teachers are willing to put them at risk in a classroom? Teachers have been prioritized for being vaccinated but want more before returning to teaching, including all students being vaccinated, young children being vaccinated but there is no vaccine for them, new ventilation and made-up, new demands the night before any day school is to start. This is not good-faith negotiating.

I could stop my tail of teacher woes and conclude as I started, by telling parents, nothing can be done. For any American to come to that conclusion is Un-American. We can always do something.

Parents in Fairfax County are starting recall efforts. A new collective bargaining law in Virginia requires only 30% of union members to approve of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers to be the exclusive bargaining agent for the teachers and to control the negotiating process. Parents need to make themselves involved, even if it means Gandhi’s style passive resistance or non-cooperation.  Any school board member supporting a teacher-friendly agreement that ignores students should be on the recall list.

We have options, we need to use them.

The bigger issue, however, is that we need our children to get the best education possible so they can compete in the world. Teachers refusing to teach in a classroom is the best example of why the current public school system, created in the 19th century, has failed and must be totally dismantled.

Throughout the past year, over 4.5 million students were in private (20%) and religious (80%) schools across the nation, and teachers have been teaching in classrooms without any serious illnesses. Those schools need to be the models. So how do we get more children into working schools?

Private schools are within the economic reach of all students.

The belief is that most parents cannot afford private school, which may be incorrect. A Northshore Christian Academy asserts private school, tuition ranges from $6,000 to $30,000 per year. But ranges are ranges and the real question – is the U.S. getting value for the $720 billion dollars it spends annually on education? And this number is low since another $200 billion will be spent on education due to the pandemic. For sake of discussion are U.S. taxpayers getting $1 trillion worth of value from teachers not teaching?

Another study by educationaldata.org, the U.S., finds the cost per student for public education is less than private education. Currently, the average cost per student is $14,840 at public schools. Currently, the average cost per private school is $12,350. The range for private schools is $4,840 at the nation’s catholic elementary schools and can be as high as $37,500 at the 260 most exclusive boarding schools. On average what is spent, per pupil, on public schools, would pay for private school education.

Action: Recognize teachers and their unions have made education a political issue. Education is no longer about children; it is about teachers’ rights and union power in the Democrat Party. Teachers have paid handsomely for this protection which insulates them from parents and government officials. Teachers are the leading financial contributors to the Democratic party since 1990. “Teachers union members comprise 10 percent of the delegates the Democrat National Convention, where they represent the single largest organizational bloc of Democratic Party activists.”

Once recognized as a political issue it must be understood it is a battle for the educational soul of children. Parents want their children to receive the best education possible so they can succeed in an internationally competitive world. Teachers want paychecks and protection from accountability. While there are more parents than teachers, unions have the money which is what talks to politicians. Forget about small changes like a few more charter schools, a little more school choice, or a few extra scholarships to private schools. Those incremental steps merely let teachers’ unions win by giving parents a pyrrhic victory. The entire system must go!

Solution: Let all the taxpayers’ educational money paid to the public schools follow the student. Let the parents and the student select the best school for the child. In a non-pandemic year, there are $ 721 billion dollars to divide between students by state. Students in New York would receive $28,228 a year for the school of their choice. Students in the District of Columbia would receive $31,280 a year. The smaller, more rural states spend far less on education but costs are less, i.e., Utah and Idaho are in the $8,000 to $9,000 range. Most states would be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. Literally, all public school expenditures are above the averages for private schools.

Schools will compete for the best teachers so they can be the best schools. Schools will also compete for students so they can support the school. When the money follows the student, the parents and students will use the taxpayers’ money to get the best education possible for their child. This competition also helps the nation by producing new generations of leaders and likely better teachers.

A free, competitive market will provide the best education for our children. It allows all schools, public or private, to compete for the taxpayers’ money spent on educating students, not supporting unions and all their silly work rules, outrageous demands, and total disregard of the people who pay teacher salaries.