Christina D. Romer - How to prevent huge teacher layoffs: The emergency spending bill before the House would address the education crisis... the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers.... [S]tates and localities are drastically cutting education spending... school districts in Hawaii went to only four days of instruction a week.... As many as one out of every 15 teachers could receive a pink slip this summer.... Such layoffs are terrible for teachers, for communities and, most important, for students... the costs of decreased learning time and support for students will be felt not just in the next year or two but will reduce our productivity for decades to come.
Additional federal aid targeted at preventing these layoffs can play a critical role... be very cost-effective... no hiring or setup costs. The teachers are there... by preventing layoffs, we would save on unemployment insurance payments, food stamps and COBRA subsidies for health insurance, and we would maintain tax revenue... the actual cost of the program is likely to be 20 to 40 percent below the sticker price....
Further targeted actions to speed the recovery and reduce unemployment... are good for the economy and good for families...
And then we see the return to the administration line: a line that fails to distinguish between this year's deficit (which is too small) and the deficit projected for 2015 and beyond (which is too large):
Yes, we all understand that our budget deficit is too large. Profligate policies of the past and rising entitlement spending have created a mess that simply must be dealt with as we return to full employment. But it would be penny-wise and pound-foolish to deal with that issue by failing to allot essential spending on teachers at a time when the unemployment rate is still near 10 percent.
But then Romer recovers her balance:
The right way to deal with a budget problem that was years in the making is by formulating a credible plan to reduce the deficit over time and as the economy is able to withstand the necessary fiscal belt-tightening. That is what President Obama is doing. Let's also do what we need to do now -- keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom and prepare our students for the challenges of the future.