Gave testimony today, just like Nicely, Nicely, though not quite as exciting.
Here’s the material I presented, which I think many in these parts will like, but here’s the summary:
Testifying today at a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing on “Challenges and Opportunities Facing America’s Schools and Workplaces,” CBPP Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein explained that recent budget cuts are threatening the educational support critical to a productive workforce. Here’s an excerpt:
Clearly, the education of its citizens is time-honored role of government — a “public good” that is essential to building a strong, competitive economy. It is widely accepted by economists of all political stripes that absent a public role, the nation’s citizenry would be under-educated, damaging both individual and national potential.
However, an objective observer of today’s politics would, I fear, be hard-pressed to see these concerns reflected in our political agenda or our policies. It is extremely hard to see how careening from crisis-to-crisis — from fiscal cliff to debt ceiling to sequester — supports the private sector need for both a well-educated labor force on the supply side and a stable climate of demand for the goods and services they produce.
In particular, an exclusive focus on deficit reduction appears to have wholly crowded out policies devoted to educational opportunity or job creation. Worse, spending cuts are threatening to reduce the government’s commitment to supporting education and training while austerity economics is hurting the fragile recovery.
We also had a long and pretty robust Q&A with the members. My two main points were:
–the March 1 sequester will hurt the already fragile economy;
–further cuts to the non-defense descretionary side of the budget are inconsistent with supporting the education policies that all the witnesses, not just me (and the rest were R witnesses), judged to be increasingly important.