If you think education is expensive…

IF YOU THINK EDUCATION IS EXPENSIVE…. In his weekly address this morning, President Obama talked about education policy, its role in keeping Americans competitive globally, and its importance in job creation. But he also noted a political detail that hasn’t gotten much attention.

After talking about what his administration has done and still intends to do, Obama noted that congressional Republicans have a plan to “cut education by 20 percent — cuts that would reduce financial aid for eight million students; cuts that would leave our great and undervalued community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future.”

The president added that he would fight any effort to “shortchange our children’s education,” adding, “Instead of being shortsighted and shortchanging our kids, we should be doubling down on them.”

That’s fine rhetoric, but is it true? Republicans haven’t exactly been forthcoming with details about their policy agenda in the next Congress; do we know that they really have steep education cuts in mind?

Actually, yes, we do. House Republicans have pledged to trim $100 billion from discretionary spending next year, and in practical terms, that necessarily means the GOP intends to “slash spending for education, cancer research and aid to local police and firefighters.”

Specifically, the Republican plan “would take about $15 billion from education. A 21 percent cut in Pell Grants would take almost $5 billion from student tuition.”

That money, based on the GOP plan, wouldn’t necessarily go towards deficit reduction, but rather, would help finance tax cuts that primarily benefit millionaires and billionaires.

It’s almost certainly too late in the election cycle to introduce voters to a new topic for debate, but for those Americans who care about education funding, the Republican plan for 2011 should offer a powerful incentive to hope there isn’t a GOP majority next year.