The White House and Senate Republicans have brokered a deal to extend unemployment benefits to the record numbers of people who can't seem to find jobs no matter what (minus the 99ers, who are still out of luck), and to offer tax breaks and incentives for spending to the middle and working classes and to businesses. The deal also hands over tax breaks to the richest one percent of Americans.This compromise is going to add $900 billion directly to the federal deficit over the next two years, and if it's not the American people who are bankrupt, then it's certainly our politics. As the rich get richer and trickle-down economics gets yet another try, Americans wake up to a piece of news that no one wants to see -- except for maybe our competitors.The newest international rankings show American high school students several time zones removed from a top ranking. We're 14th in reading out of 34 countries, 17th in science, 25th in math. Wake up to that, OK?
"This is an absolute wake-up call for America," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Associated Press. "The results are extraordinarily challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth. We have to get much more serious about investing in education."
You could say yes, we're broke and having trouble funding our schools lately. But it's not just the condition of our schools. It's also the condition of our families and houses and infrastructure and medical care -- the works. And it matters here, a lot, because ours is a nation where poverty sticks to you. "[S]ocio-economic disadvantage translates more directly into poor educational performance in the United States than is the case in many other countries," the authors of the schools report, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. We're making choices all the time, with consequences that last. "This is a bitter & shameful pill to swallow," tweets Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. "If we're going to borrow money to pay for this deal w/ GOP, give it to those who need it most." So much for that.Bonus: The full results in a sortable table.
(Photo from Pahrump, Nevada, by Sarah Goodyear)