The biggest news out of President Obama’s appearances today was not at the prime-time press conference, but at the Indiana town hall, where the President said:
The Senate version cut a lot of these education dollars. I would like to see some of it restored. And over the next few days, as we’re having these conversations, we should talk about how we can make sure that we’re investing in education, because that’s what’s going to keep companies investing right here in the United States over the long term.
At the prime-time presser, he also emphasized his support for the House provisions to fund school building improvements, but with more subtlety, without explicitly criticizing the Senate:
Education, yet another example. The suggestion is, why should the federal government be involved in school construction?
Well, I visited a school down in South Carolina that was built in the 1850s. Kids are still learning in that school, as best they can, when the — when the railroad — when the — it’s right next to a railroad. And when the train runs by, the whole building shakes and the teacher has to stop teaching for a while. The — the auditorium is completely broken down; they can’t use it.
So why wouldn’t we want to build state-of-the-art schools with science labs that are teaching our kids the skills they need for the 21st century, that will enhance our economy, and, by the way, right now, will create jobs?
The two biggest cuts made in the Senate compromise are in education and aid to state governments.
The President made clear he is not interested in simply caving to the Senate center-right faction, at least on education.
Though tomorrow’s town hall will feature pro-stimulus GOP Governor Charlie Crist. Don’t be surprised if tomorrow features a push to retain the aid to state government, to prevent mass layoffs of police, firefighters and teachers.