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Author Topic: The stimulus bill and student aid - Now with proposed budget's student aid components
DDDaysh
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Some of it looks good. I just hate watching "bills in progress", because then you get hopeful about them only to find out that the things you liked best got cut at the last minute!
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
That's exactly what it means.

Excellent.

Is this supposed to apply to next year's taxes, or the taxes we're all doing this year?

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rivka
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It can't be retroactive like that.
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Pennie-Lain
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That's pretty Great, and I think it should be pronounced arrrrrb with w rolled tongue
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rivka
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Senate version not quite as generous.

Now comes the combining-the-versions dance.

quote:
Originally posted by DDDaysh:
I just hate watching "bills in progress", because then you get hopeful about them only to find out that the things you liked best got cut at the last minute!

Too true.
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rivka
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Status update
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rivka
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From elsewhere, this morning.
quote:
Financial aid administrators who care about increases in Pell Grant funding should call their Senators today to urge them to increase Pell Grant funding and tell their students to do the same. I have been hearing that there may be an amendment to cut the education funding in the Senate version of the stimulus bill on the theory that this would bring in more Republican support. The Senators who are possibly proposing the cuts support the education spending, but don't think it is necessary to do it now as opposed to a later bill. But in all likelihood if it doesn't get done now, it won't get done this year.

(I have not been able to get them to say one way or the other whether they are proposing the amendment, so they are probably on the fence about this. Even if they propose the amendment, it might fail. But something that should have been assured is now being put in jeopardy because of self-doubt and misplaced priorities.)


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Lyrhawn
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I'll get on both my senators and my congressman tonight. Thanks for the notice.
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ElJay
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I read the title as "Bill on Jeopardy" and wondered why we should call our senators about a former president on a game show.
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Lisa
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Definitely call your Senator. But tell him or her to vote against this bill. Calling it an economic stimulus bill is so blatantly dishonest that it leaves me breathless.

You may like the things it includes, and you may not, but this bill isn't about stimulating the economy. It's about using the panic over the economy to pass funding for left-wing pet projects and causes.

Link

As a public service, in case you don't want to read the article in detail, here are the main points:

VARIOUS LEFT-WINGERY
  • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $380 million in the Senate bill for the Women, Infants and Children program
  • $300 million for grants to combat violence against women
  • $2 billion for federal child-care block grants
  • $6 billion for university building projects
  • $15 billion for boosting Pell Grant college scholarships
  • $4 billion for job-training programs, including $1.2 billion for "youths" up to the age of 24
  • $1 billion for community-development block grants
  • $4.2 billion for "neighborhood stabilization activities"
  • $650 million for digital-TV coupons
  • $90 million to educate "vulnerable populations"

POORLY DESIGNED TAX RELIEF
  • $15 billion for business-loss carry-backs
  • $145 billion for "Making Work Pay" tax credits
  • $83 billion for the earned income credit

STIMULUS FOR THE GOVERNMENT
  • $150 million for the Smithsonian
  • $34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce headquarters
  • $500 million for improvement projects for National Institutes of Health facilities
  • $44 million for repairs to Department of Agriculture headquarters
  • $350 million for Agriculture Department computers
  • $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building
  • $448 million for constructing a new Homeland Security Department headquarters
  • $600 million to convert the federal auto fleet to hybrids
  • $450 million for NASA (carve-out for "climate-research missions")
  • $600 million for NOAA (carve-out for "climate modeling")
  • $1 billion for the Census Bureau

INCOME TRANSFERS
  • $89 billion for Medicaid
  • $30 billion for COBRA insurance extension
  • $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
  • $20 billion for food stamps

PURE PORK
  • $4.5 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • $850 million for Amtrak
  • $87 million for a polar icebreaking ship
  • $1.7 billion for the National Park System
  • $55 million for Historic Preservation Fund
  • $7.6 billion for "rural community advancement programs"
  • $150 million for agricultural-commodity purchases
  • $150 million for "producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish"

RENEWABLE WASTE
  • $2 billion for renewable-energy research ($400 million for global-warming research)
  • $2 billion for a "clean coal" power plant in Illinois
  • $6.2 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program
  • $3.5 billion for energy-efficiency and conservation block grants
  • $3.4 billion for the State Energy Program
  • $200 million for state and local electric-transport projects
  • $300 million for energy-efficient-appliance rebate programs
  • $400 million for hybrid cars for state and local governments
  • $1 billion for the manufacturing of advanced batteries
  • $1.5 billion for green-technology loan guarantees
  • $8 billion for innovative-technology loan-guarantee program
  • $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
  • $4.5 billion for electricity grid

REWARDING STATE IRRESPONSIBILITY
  • $79 billion for State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

So how much of that is economic stimulus? Environmental funding. Making sure everyone gets their TVs converted. Getting hybrid cars for the government. In what universe is any of this going to stimulate the economy?

This is just incredibly dishonest.

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TomDavidson
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Man, if the federal budget looked like that, I'd be so happy.

Of course, I'm a little less happy about the fact that this is all in addition to the federal budget.

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fugu13
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Most of what you have under pure pork isn't pork by any common definition, even if you disagree with it. And at least one thing is a bit of funding I would have thought you'd approve of (in a general sense, not speaking to its membership in this bill): icebreaker ships are something the US is sorely short of, and given the reduced ice in the arctic, are becoming extremely strategically important. The navy's been asking for that one for a while, I believe.
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Mucus
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By my *extremely* rough calculations, that one billion total for hybrid cars should purchase something like 2 and a half years worth of Honda Civic Hybrids or two December's worth of hybrids across all manufacturers*

Compared to the amount of money that the US government is throwing at US automakers which will probably be a total loss if they go under, at least this way they'll get physical cars which will save some gas years down the road.

* I fudged the currencies, the fact that the American SUVs are significantly more expensive than Civics, and so forth, but this is just to get a point of comparison

Besides, China's doing something similar (which ironically will help GM too):
quote:
China's central government will subsidize purchases of clean-energy vehicles for public fleets in 13 cities to help the automobile industry develop green technology, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The trial scheme will promote the use of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles by public transport operators, taxi firms and postal and sanitary services in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, Xinhua quoted a finance ministry statement as saying late on Monday.

Subsidies will be based on the gap in prices between more energy-efficient vehicles and those with traditional engines, Xinhua added. Local governments were asked to allocate money to build and maintain facilities for the green vehicles.

...

SAIC Motor Corp, China's biggest auto maker, said in November it would set up a venture with its state-owned parent to invest 2 billion yuan ($293 million) in developing hybrid and electric vehicles.

Last month battery maker BYD Co launched a plug-in hubrid car, China's first homegrown electric vehicle. And in January last year, SAIC's car venture with General Motors rolled out its first locally produced hybrid car and said it planned to introduce fuel-cell vehicles into China after 2010.

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE50Q0WQ20090127
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Tstorm
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quote:

$15 billion for boosting Pell Grant college scholarships

Lisa, Public schools and higher education institutions in many places are facing significant budget cuts, so I wonder why funding Pell Grants is such a terrible thing. It's obvious, at least around here, that tuition will have to go up a bit...which will mean higher costs for all students, even those laid off who are retraining for another career.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
Definitely call your Senator. But tell him or her to vote against this bill.

Thanks. I win the bet I had with myself. [Wink]
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
Most of what you have under pure pork isn't pork by any common definition, even if you disagree with it. And at least one thing is a bit of funding I would have thought you'd approve of (in a general sense, not speaking to its membership in this bill): icebreaker ships are something the US is sorely short of, and given the reduced ice in the arctic, are becoming extremely strategically important. The navy's been asking for that one for a while, I believe.

Like I said, I wasn't talking about whether the things in the bill are good or bad (most are bad, though). I was talking about the incredible dishonesty of calling this an economic stimulus package.

For the past 5 years, all we've heard from the left was "Bush lied". Now all we're getting is lies.

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TomDavidson
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Well, you can make -- and I suspect they are making -- the argument that things like Pell Grants are "economic stimulus." And certainly the bulk of the bill is income "redistribution" in excess of taxation, which is classical Keynesian stimulus. It's too large, but it's not too large because of pork.
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DarkKnight
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You can make the argument that virtually anything is 'economic stimulus'. Let's not forget that relief for homeowners is coming...just not in this stimulus package. Relief for homeowners is coming in the next stimulus package. Why have a federal budget when you can pay for everything with stimulus packages?
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Alcon
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quote:

A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to economic recovery. Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clichés about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts.

...

Would the Obama economic plan, if enacted, ensure that America won’t have its own lost decade? Not necessarily: a number of economists, myself included, think the plan falls short and should be substantially bigger. But the Obama plan would certainly improve our odds. And that’s why the efforts of Republicans to make the plan smaller and less effective — to turn it into little more than another round of Bush-style tax cuts — are so destructive.

This is from Paul Krugman, a nobel prize winning economist, in his column today in the New York Times.

Here's the full column.

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lobo
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I am pretty sure I don't want Paul Krugman in charge of the purse strings...

rivka - If you have a bet with yourself, don't you both win AND lose?

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fugu13
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Lisa: I was pointing out there were serious issues with the classifications you gave, particularly the 'pork' category.

While I have my own issues with the bill, if you're trying to stimulate the economy, transfer payments (in existing programs) are one of the best approaches, and this is generally agreed upon by economists. There isn't a complicated reason, either: most other forms of government spending take too long to reach the economy to actually, you know, stimulate.

And the measures masquerading under 'relief for homeowners' might as well be called 'setting them up for even more problems further down the road'.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by lobo:
rivka - If you have a bet with yourself, don't you both win AND lose?

You'd think so, no?
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Tresopax
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So... how much are we willing to raise taxes in 2011 to pay for all this?
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Lisa
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More to the point, if you want to fund all these things, why not propose them as part of the budget? Why lie and claim that they're "economic stimulus"?
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by lobo:
I am pretty sure I don't want Paul Krugman in charge of the purse strings...

rivka - If you have a bet with yourself, don't you both win AND lose?

I wouldn't want Paul Krugman in charge of the purse strings either. He didn't win the Nobel Prize for macroeconomics, yanno. His substantive work is in international trade. And it's very clear from reading his popular economics articles that he lets his political thinking bias his economic writing (in that sphere anyways).

People citing him as an authority is why I have doubts over the general American people's ability to even pick good authorities to listen to, let alone understand the economics behind the stimulus.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
More to the point, if you want to fund all these things, why not propose them as part of the budget? Why lie and claim that they're "economic stimulus"?

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."

Seriously, a crisis where a majority of Americans are encouraging politicians to go out and spend on random things? Its like telling a fish to go for a swim.

quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
So... how much are we willing to raise taxes in 2011 to pay for all this?

I think thats part of the dynamic for sure, but its more subtle and insidious than that. The question is how much are Americans willing to raise taxes on future generations to pay for deficit spending now?

Given that Americans have had little or no hesitation about maxing out their own personal credit that they themselves have to pay for, it should come as extremely little surprise that that they have little or no hesitation about maxing out the "national credit card" and burdening people that they don't even know yet.

After all, future generations can't vote now. (For an alternate manifestation, see the "Buy American" and "blame the foreigner" sentiment going around now. They can't vote either.)

[ February 06, 2009, 12:01 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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scholarette
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WIC and foodstamps are shown to be the fastest way to pump money into the economy. Poor people who can't afford to feed their families go out and spend that right away. Research money has a huge multiplier on the economy and almost everything on that list is going to make jobs for someone.
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scholarette
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
So... how much are we willing to raise taxes in 2011 to pay for all this?

If the stimulus is the difference between having a job and not, I am willing to pay a lot in taxes. Even if my takehome is only 60%, 60% of something is a whole lot more then 0. And hearing about my husband's job fair. 0 is looking more and more likely.
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fugu13
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Most of what you said is at least arguably true, scholarette, but jobs made by gov't intervention are generally accounted as a cost, not a benefit, as they're someone working for a gov't funded thing when, all else being equal, they'd be working on something else instead.

'Making jobs' is one of those things that sounds great in practice but tends to have unusually negative effects. Also, 'made' jobs tend to have a large delay in impact, and thus little direct stimulating effect even if they are a net positive (which is doubtful).

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scholarette
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But if there were other places hiring, then we probably wouldn't be in the place we were. Of course, my husband just spent yesterday handing resumes out to a bunch of companies that are on hiring freezes and just showed up because they agreed to months ago.
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Tresopax
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quote:
I think thats part of the dynamic for sure, but its more subtle and insidious than that. The question is how much are Americans willing to raise taxes on future generations to pay for deficit spending now?
Well, in theory a "stimulus" package should be paid off mostly by the same generation that spends it. The idea is to run a deficit now during the recession and then pay it back by running surpluses over the booming years between the recessions. So what we need are things with temporary costs, that will allow us to spend a lot immediately (during the recession) but that also will stop costing us after a few years (when we are back in economic expansion mode).

The problem with this "stimulus" package is that it appears that lots of the stuff are things that will evolve into permanent expenditures. If we are spending all this money on Pell grants right now, are we going to be prepared to cut that funding to Pell grants back to the pre-2009 levels as soon as the recession is over? If we give $850 millioin more to Amtrak now, are we prepared to take away that $850 million from their annual budges in two years when the recession is over? (This is especially a problem with this stimulus package because some of the expenditures don't take place until 18 months from now, which is likely to be precisely the time when we need to be cutting spending to pay for the gigantic bill we ran up during the recession.)

The only other option, if we intend to make all these expenditures permanent, is to massively increase taxes once the recession is over. I can't imagine that will be popular at all, so I can't imagine it is likely to happen with a new Presidential election coming up then.

Instead what we need are one-time projects that we can spend a lot on now, that will benefit us in the long run, and that won't evolve into permanent costs. High costs up front, low costs and high benefits in the long run.

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fugu13
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Unfortunately, 'making jobs' doesn't work like that. Since the gov't spending to 'make jobs' is distortionary to allocations, it doesn't add (much; there no doubt is a small effect) to the total number of available jobs in the economy. The same factors that are causing firms to not hire very much will continue.
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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:

The problem with this "stimulus" package is that it appears that lots of the stuff are things that will evolve into permanent expenditures. If we are spending all this money on Pell grants right now, are we going to be prepared to cut that funding to Pell grants back to the pre-2009 levels as soon as the recession is over? If we give $850 millioin more to Amtrak now, are we prepared to take away that $850 million from their annual budges in two years when the recession is over? (This is especially a problem with this stimulus package because some of the expenditures don't take place until 18 months from now, which is likely to be precisely the time when we need to be cutting spending to pay for the gigantic bill we ran up during the recession.)

This matches my sentiment pretty well too. We already need to prune the budget down in order to start paying off for the excesses of previous administrations. Given the current economic situation, this needs to be deferred a bit in favor of some extra spending to boost the economy, but we still need to keep in mind that this balancing does need to occur sooner than later.

The best way to do this is certainly not by throwing in all sorts of recurring charges that are going to be tough to get rid of when we've weathered these economic problems.

What we should be focusing on here are the important one time expenditures that can stimulate the economy while providing important investments to future society. For example, much has been made of the state of many of our roads and bridges nationwide. By spending money on things such as this, we get the same economic stimulus that any domestic spending is going to provide, and we get another 50 or so years of solid transportation infrastructure.

Of course, as I understand it there is a lot of this sort of spending in the stimulus bill, but I am troubled by how much of it seems on the surface to be of the recurring sort.

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Lyrhawn
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Cut from the stimulus package

I can't tell if the Pell Grant money is there or not. The cuts are described as mostly education spending, and higher education spending specifically (but it doesn't actually look that way), but when the money is detailed, I don't see anything about the Pell grant money, just high education construction and other spending.

Any details rivka?

edit to add, to answer my own question:

Miami Herald

quote:
Sometimes they succeeded. Republicans wanted some key aid to education programs cut from the bill, notably $13 billion for disadvantaged elementary and secondary school students and $13.9 billion to increase Pell Grants, a financial aid program for lower-income college students. GOP members argued that those are state, not federal, responsibilities.

Democrats objected and the Pell Grant money was reportedly restored, though the other funds remained on the chopping block.

From Student Lending Analytics

quote:
Lieberman said of the nearly $100 billion in cuts that were made to the stimulus bill, about half came from funds for school construction and Title I funding increases, while the rest came from supplemental transportation funding. Pell Grant increases were left in the bill, however.

Of course, now the Senate and House bills will need to be reconciled. With the Pell Grant increases in both bills, it would appear there is a good chance that it will make it into the final bill too.

Looks like it's still there. Democrats actually put up a fuss over it and sacrificed other education spending to make it stick. I'm pleased and surprised.
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Samprimary
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Good, they kept the pell grants in there.

That makes me happy.

Inevitable bill is inevitable.

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rivka
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Considering that the majority of the $13.9 billion in Pell money is not for the added $500, but to cover the current year's projected shortfalls, it would be pretty idiotic to cut it entirely. Not that Congress has not occasionally done dumber things. [Wink]
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rivka
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Today's updates:
Bill expected to pass senate, in part thanks to Ted Kennedy's return. That's definitely showing that he is a supporter of education! No Cesar Rodney, perhaps, but commitment in a politician should be applauded.


Duncan & Alexander speak at ACE meeting.

I like most of what Duncan said. And Alexander's pledge to reduce regulations would be nice. But expecting schools to cut costs by turning a 4-year degree into a 3-year? When more and more students come in needing remediation because they've been pushed through the K-12 system?

Not remotely realistic. And makes me very concerned about what else he has planned.


MRU goes poof. Karma's a b*tch. [Wink]


And as expected, passed with 61 votes.

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Lyrhawn
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Now we see how it fairs in conference, where it could STILL fall apart. Those 3 Republican senators that switched sides have to be kept happy, and the House is unlikely to stand back and allow three Senate Republicans to rewrite everything they did. Generally if something survives both houses it's likely to make it into the final version, thus the Pell Grants are probably safe, but if nothing passes because they can't reach a compromise, they might go back to square one.

The journey continues!

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Mucus
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quote:
In an e-mail that was also posted on his blog ahead of the Senate’s passage, Huckabee wrote: “The dust is settling on the ‘bipartisan’ stimulus bill and one thing is clear: It is anti-religious.”

The former Republican presidential candidate pointed to a provision in both the House and Senate versions banning higher education funds in the bill from being used on a “school or department of divinity.”

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/18668.html

I don't know if his interpretation is correct, but if it is: awesome (and about time).

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rivka
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Does that mean students majoring in religious studies wouldn't be eligible for Pell funds? What about someone taking a comparative religion class? Seems unlikely.

Edit: And it doesn't. He's talking about two things: removing funds aimed at faith-based groups, and that the building funds cannot be used to build/repair a religious school. I have no problem with either of those.

Meanwhile, talks on the compromise bill have started. Looks like the $15,000 homeowner credit is toast.

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MattP
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quote:
Does that mean students majoring in religious studies wouldn't be eligible for Pell funds? What about someone taking a comparative religion class? Seems unlikely.
I don't think so. I think they are talking more about sectarian education like a seminary.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
In an e-mail that was also posted on his blog ahead of the Senate’s passage, Huckabee wrote: “The dust is settling on the ‘bipartisan’ stimulus bill and one thing is clear: It is anti-religious.”

The former Republican presidential candidate pointed to a provision in both the House and Senate versions banning higher education funds in the bill from being used on a “school or department of divinity.”


screw you, hucky boy. That is a good provision.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Does that mean students majoring in religious studies wouldn't be eligible for Pell funds? What about someone taking a comparative religion class? Seems unlikely.

Edit: And it doesn't. He's talking about two things: removing funds aimed at faith-based groups, and that the building funds cannot be used to build/repair a religious school. I have no problem with either of those.

Meanwhile, talks on the compromise bill have started. Looks like the $15,000 homeowner credit is toast.

In other articles I've read, negotiations have already scrapped the car buyer tax rebate, and the home buyer credit will be substantially reduced, though it may survive in some form. The House is adamant on that point.

Ironically, between the different additions and subtractions, the compromise bill might actually end up being less than either the Senate or House versions, just because they have money in so many different places and no one will get everything they way, a lot of stuff will get cut.

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Mucus
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MattP+rivka: I was thinking what MattP was thinking, but those two things that Rivka listed are good too.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
Does that mean students majoring in religious studies wouldn't be eligible for Pell funds? What about someone taking a comparative religion class? Seems unlikely.
I don't think so. I think they are talking more about sectarian education like a seminary.
Considering that many seminaries (and the like) award degrees and have students eligible for Pell funding, that would not be much better.
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rivka
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Chart comparing final bill to House and Senate versions
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Lyrhawn
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I'm glad ARPA-E got some money in there. I read that they might get shortchanged in the budget this year.
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rivka
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NASFAA's press release

I agree that a sudden and complete cessation of FFELP is definitely not the way to go. I'm not sure shutting down the program is a good idea in any case. Having both FFEL and DL programs is good for both of them, IMO (and that of many FAOs, regardless of which their school uses).

I like having Pell come entirely from mandatory, rather than discretionary, funding though!

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rivka
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Longer summary, some analysis, and lots and lots of links to other coverage.
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rivka
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More on why killing FFELP is bad.
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