By Richard Vedder
An earlier blog I wrote on this was eliminated by techies in cyberspace, so I will try again. The elections may change the higher ed landscape a bit, but not dramatically, for several reasons.
1) The new Democrats are, to a considerable extent, fairly conservative (a smart Democratic party strategy in picking candidates to run). Jim Webb, probable new senator from Virginia, is a perfect example. No raving liberal. The political ideology of congress is not moving all that far to the left, Nancy Pelosi notwithstanding.
2) The last two GOP congresses outspent the congresses of the Clinton years -- a factor, I think, in the GOP demise. I do not foresee a dramatic upsurge in higher ed spending. Pell Grants will increase, but they would have gone up anyway.
3) The recommendations of the Spellings Commission are not dead, or at least any more dead (are there degrees of being dead?) than they otherwise would be. The Commission pushed bigger Pell Grants (led by an ex-Democratic governor), and Congress will be receptive to that. Surprisingly, they might even embrace an idea pushed by Yours Truly on the Commission: trying to keep tuition increases below the growth rate in personal income. On another note, while the Higher Ed Establishment no doubt jumped for joy when they heard spending limits were rejected in three states, they no doubt were chagrined to learn that Michigan voters strongly approved the anti-affirmative action amendment. Americans want merit to trump other attributes in handing out governmental largess, and the endless "diversity" mantra of college presidents is wearing pretty thin with the American people. California was no fluke -- Michigan is a mainline, Midwestern state. President Coleman at the U. of Michigan sounded almost defiant before the results were in when she promised the U of M would pursue diversity vigorously, another sign of how out of sync the Higher Ed Establishment is with that annoying group that provides it with most of its money -- the American people.