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Reason Alert: Debt Ceiling Myths

Atlanta's cheating teachers and big-spending red states

July 15, 2011

Reason Alert - July 15, 2011

- Three Myths Dominating the Debt Ceiling Debate
- Red States Love Spending Your Money
- Atlanta's Cheating Teachers Play the Blame Game
- New at Reason

Three Myths Dominating the Debt Ceiling Debate Editor Nick Gillespie says:
1. August 2 is a phony deadline. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has pushed back the drop-dead date when the U.S. finally reaches its limit a bunch of times already: March 31, April 15, and May 31 were all cited as deadlines before August 2 was inked in as Armageddon. But this time, he means it, man, really.
2. Reaching the debt ceiling is not the same as defaulting on our debt – which would indeed be catastrophic. Think about it: You can max out your credit cards but as long as you keep paying the minimum amount due each month, your creditors don’t go crazy. Interest on the debt is a small fraction of total outlays and the government has a series of tools – from using cash on hand to selling assets to scrimping on nonessential payments – to make sure interest payments are made and seniors aren’t put on an all cat-food diet.
3. Legislating-by-panic is no way to run a country. The reason we’re in this mess is because government can’t stop spending. And the government can’t even pass a budget on a year’s notice. But we’re expecting them to come up with a good plan for the country’s borrowing in a couple of weeks?
Raising the Debt Limit: It Just Makes Sense. Not.
The Truth About the Debt Ceiling
Sen. McConnell: I Don't Know Constitution Any Better Than President Obama
Corporate Jet Tax Distraction Shows Need for Major Tax Reform
Cut the Debt By Cutting Government

Red States Love Spending Your Money
"We hear it all the time: Red states are for limited government; blue states are for heavy spending. While this may be true when it comes to broad political preferences, it’s false as measured by patterns of federal spending. When you compare the 50 laboratories of democracy after sorting them based on how their citizens voted in November 2008, only 10 Democratic-voting states are net recipients of federal subsidies, as opposed to 22 Republican states. Only one red state (Texas) is a net payer of federal taxes, as opposed to 16 blue states. One blue state (Rhode Island) pays as much as it gets." - Reason magazine columnist Veronique de Rugy in the August/September issue
The Facts About Stimulus Spending

Atlanta's Cheating Teachers Play the Blame Game
Reason magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward examines the widespread standardized test cheating in Atlanta and writes, "At least 178 cheating teachers and principals at 44 different schools were uncovered, and 82 of the teachers confessed when confronted by investigators. And the folks who caved all fingered the same culprit when asked why they did it: data. They blamed data-obsessed school superintendent Beverly Hall and her administration for setting 'unreasonable improvement goals' and establishing a 'no exceptions, no excuses' culture in which teachers and principals who failed to meet state testing targets were named, shamed, and booted...Is it reasonable or unreasonable to ask that a majority of the kids in Atlanta be able to read and do math at grade level? In many cases, individual teachers were undoubtedly correct to feel they were being asked to work miracles. This is especially true given that the long legacy of cheating teachers meant they were annually hoisting themselves on their collective petards. Each year’s standards were based on the previous year’s results. A 2 percent improvement in math performance for fourth graders each year is already a tall order, but it’s tougher still if the skills of last years’ fourth graders were mostly fictional, the product of a decade of ever-inflating false scores. But what is more unreasonable: putting intense pressure on teachers to get kids’ scores up, or continuing to allow Atlanta’s kids to slide by year after year as test scores show that they aren’t learning even basic skills?"

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