Thursday, September 27, 2007

Washington: Good News, Bad News

By Richard Vedder

It's official. The President has signed the new higher education budget bill. A signing ceremony (to which I was invited but did not attend because of obligations to my students at Ohio University) occurred this morning. The President and the Congressional leadership no doubt were all trying to take credit for what was termed a "historic" bill.

I have written a lot about it already, the bill is not historic, but rather a continuation of support for the same old, tired higher education delivery system that is bringing higher tuition bills to students, declining educational attainment compared to other nations (as documented in a new OECD report), and limited accountability. The teeth in this bill were removed, and the Democratic majority added a number of just plain bad provisions, including low interest loans and preferential terms for those going into saintly work ---working for government, rather than crass and greedy work --working in the private sector. I appreciated the invite to the party, but it is probably just as well that I did not attend.

On a happier note, our CCAP colleague Lynne Munson gave interesting testimony over at the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, arguing that universities often fail to spend adequately from their endowments, preferring to amass huge investments. Given the tax exempt nature of all this giving, it is good that a bipartisan group of Senators, including chair Max Baccus and leading minority member Chuck Grassley, are showing real interest in the issue. Thanks Lynne for bringing this issue forward.

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