Monday, February 28, 2011

Building Up the Base

The Republicans often claim that the deficit will cause us to leave a huge tax bill for our children and grandchildren, and that cutting spending is the only way to save them from this punishing burden. But as Paul Krugman notes, the children are already suffering.

While low spending may sound good in the abstract, what it amounts to in practice is low spending on children, who account directly or indirectly for a large part of government outlays at the state and local level.

And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.

But wait — how can graduation rates be so low when Texas had that education miracle back when former President Bush was governor? Well, a couple of years into his presidency the truth about that miracle came out: Texas school administrators achieved low reported dropout rates the old-fashioned way — they, ahem, got the numbers wrong.

It’s not a pretty picture; compassion aside, you have to wonder — and many business people in Texas do — how the state can prosper in the long run with a future work force blighted by childhood poverty, poor health and lack of education.

There really doesn’t seem to be much of a point of cutting spending if the result is leaving the children broke, sick, and ignorant… unless you’re trying to build up the next generation of the Republican base.