The Fiscal Times' Washington Editor Eric Pianin talked to Rep. David R. Obey (WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday, July 13, in his office at the Capitol. Here are some excerpts, but it's definitely worth reading the full story:
“I have been working for school reform long before I ever heard of the secretary of education, and long before I ever heard of Obama,” Obey told The Fiscal Times in an interview this week in his office in the Capitol. “And I’m happy to welcome them on the reform road, but I’ll be damned if I think the only road to reform lies in the head of the secretary of education.”
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While Duncan had been praising Obey’s efforts to boost teacher funding, the cut prompted the White House veto threat, which singled out “Race to the Top” and $300 million in cuts to other programs the administration called “education reform.”
“When we needed [to cut] money, we committed the cardinal sin of treating him like any other mere mortal,” Obey said of Duncan, noting that the bill would still net the Department of Education nearly $15 billion.
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For sure, the curmudgeonly Obey is no stranger to political jousting. The son of a roofing factory worker who grew up in rough-hewn Wausau, Wis., Obey was attracted to politics by older New Deal Democrats and anti-Vietnam War liberals. Since his arrival in Washington as a youthful lawmaker in 1969 at the start of the Nixon administration, Obey has leveled salvos at Republican and Democratic presidents alike. He vigorously opposed President Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement and derided his health care plan for falling well short of the need. In 2006 he dismissed President George W. Bush’s budget as “wrong-headed and embarrassing.” He dubbed President Obama a “crown prince” shortly after Obama’s 2008 election, and in April 2009 warned the president that he would not provide a blank check for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The House version of the bill still has to get approved by the Senate, and other things might shift, but if you would like to express your gratitude and give support to Congressman Obey, you can write to him or call his office. He only accepts constituents' emails.
UPDATE: Yikes! I just learned something that tells me I might need to sit on this for a few more weeks.
2314 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4907
Phone: (202) 225-3365