Alexander to Obama Administration: “Write on Blackboard 100 Times: ‘I Will Not Increase Entitlement Spending’"

May 12th, 2009 - WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following comments on the Senate floor:

• "After 100 days, there have been a lot of report cards on the Obama Administration. I would like to offer one on the subject both the president and I think is of crucial importance—the education of the American people.”

• “I would give President Obama an A-plus for recruiting Arne Duncan from Chicago . . . He has a background for leadership. He has an agenda for rewarding outstanding teaching, an agenda for encouraging the largest number of charter schools possible, an agenda for encouraging states to set higher standards, and he has a close relationship with the president. He’s truly a blue-chip recruit.”

• “Now for the bad news. Every parent has had this experience with a child’s report card: here is a D … for spending $80 billion over the next two years for more of the same in the Department of Education without even asking the question: ‘Is what we’re doing working?’ That’s hard for me to imagine.”

• “A D-minus for the D.C. voucher program . . . what keeps this from being an F is that the president and the secretary have said that they will continue funds for the 1,700 children in the District of Columbia who are now enrolled in their school of choice. But after that, it’s gone. This is a death sentence for the program. This is a death sentence for the model of giving low-income parents choices of better schools. It’s the model that made our higher education system the best in the world.”

• “The president’s budget will add $293 billion over 10 years to entitlement spending by moving Pell Grants from discretionary to mandatory spending—that is automatic spending. That is the reason the country’s debt is so high. Sixty percent of our spending here is entitlement spending, and I think the punishment for the administration should be that they should all be made to stay after school and write on the blackboard 100 times, ‘I will never again add to entitlement spending, even for a worthy purpose.’ It is no gift to students to give them a scholarship to live in a country they can’t afford to live in.”

Alexander, a former U.S. Secretary of Education and President of the University of Tennessee, serves on the Senate Committee and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP).