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The great Jack Kemp used to say about politicians that “voters don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Republicans say they care about the poor and minorities, but do they really?
We have a test case in front of us right now over whether the congressional leadership will reauthorize and then hopefully expand the Washington D.C. school voucher program. President Obama is against the program though it’s $25 million budget is less than 0.1 percent of federal education spending. The opportunity scholarship program was created in 2004 and was the handiwork of John Boehner and President George W. Bush. The results have been uniformly positive for these families.
But something unforgivable happened at the end of last year. The House leadership admits that they “inadvertently” left out of the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed late last year. They forgot to fund the voucher program for poor black and Hispanic parents because apparently they were too busy funding the Export Import Bank to help Boeing. So amazingly, about the only domestic program that got eliminated was the one that matters the most. Message: Republicans don’t care about these families any more than the Democrats do — which is very little.
The very first order of business for this Congress should be to immediately reauthorize the Washington, D.C. school voucher program. Do it now. Hold a rally in front of the Capitol with the thousands of minority parents and kids who depend on these vouchers. Stand with them. Fight with them loudly and proudly.