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Why is Bill Clinton so militantly opposed to letting the states and
local communities decide how to allocate federal education funds? Maybe
he was just kidding when he piously announced that the era of big
government was over.

Apparently caught off guard by a reporter’s question, he gave us a
glimpse into his guiding worldview. When asked what was wrong with
letting local school districts decide how best to spend federal
education dollars, he snapped, “because it’s not their money.”

Just chew on that for a minute. Clinton’s knee-jerk response says it
all. Money sucked into the federal coffers through onerous taxes on
individuals and entities is his money. Just like those jets of
the military he loathes are his jets, and the oval office is
his bedroom.

Clinton has been absolutely intransigent about his statist demand
that federal monies be earmarked to hire 100,000 new teachers.
Congressional Republicans were insisting that these education decisions
be left to states and cities.

In sharp contrast to the failed negotiations that resulted in their
being blamed for the government shutdown in 1995, until this week,
congressional Republicans have been much more adroit in their budget
dealings with Clinton this time around.

Instead of falling into his snare again, they had kept their noses to
the grindstone, stayed on message and passed one continuing resolution
after another.

Rather than giving in to their fatigue and consolidating the spending
measures into an omnibus-spending package, Republicans wisely separated
them into 13 distinct proposals. This had the desired effect of flushing
Clinton out and forcing him to decide which specific bills to veto.

Until Wednesday, an impasse remained as both White House and
congressional budget negotiators had their heels dug in over certain
ideologically important issues involved in the remaining spending bills.

Congressional budgets are approved on an annual basis and authorize
government expenditures for each fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 and ending
Sept. 30. If Congress and the president fail to approve any part of the
budget for the next fiscal year prior to the end of the then current
fiscal year, e.g. Sept. 30, 1999, the government runs out of authorized
funds to operate into the next fiscal year.

In the absence of a complete budget agreement, Congress and/or the
president can either allow the deadline to expire, in which event, we
will have a government shutdown as in 1995, or they can agree to extend
the deadline through continuing resolutions.

These resolutions have the effect of continuing the funding of
programs (for which there has been no spending bill passed) at the same
level as the just-expired fiscal year.

It was unrealistic to expect that Congress and the president would
agree to run the government on this basis in perpetuity. It was
inevitable that one or both would compromise. I am extremely dejected to
report that Republican negotiators are the ones who caved on the
education issue.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Republicans had agreed to
almost all of the president’s education demands. They dropped their
efforts to convert the federal education monies to a block grant that
would leave local school boards with broad discretion in spending the
funds.

Some may view this Republican capitulation as an honorable
compromise. Perish the thought.

Clinton praised the Republicans for their “bipartisan spirit” (read:
cowardice).

What about all the lofty GOP rhetoric about states’ rights, freedom
and local autonomy? Do they truly believe that empty words are just as
noble as the actions they advocate?

How can these congressional Republicans possibly expect to rally
support from the conservative base of their party when they roll over
like this?

At the last presidential debate, Alan Keyes aptly reminded us that
“liberty is one of those things that once you lose it, you don’t even
know what you have lost.” Indeed.

It is extremely disappointing that so often our Republican
officeholders literally do not put our money where their mouths are.
Apparently, Clinton has convinced them that it is indeed his
money.

It turns out that Republicans really talked a good game but in the
end, getting out of town must have been more important than standing on
the principles of freedom.

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