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Act not fiscally responsible

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Class of 1999 alumnus Tim Barnes (“Support financial aid reform,” Sept. 21) appears to have regrettably fallen victim to the “truthiness” extolled and rammed down the public’s throat by the mainstream media and President Obama. I do not – nor should anyone – fault him for being so deceived.

A disturbing pattern has manifest itself, one in which those who oppose the growth of government programs are automatically castigated as necessarily corrupt for opposing any bill that “should” garner unanimous support from all who care about the welfare of our students/veterans/insert widely supported constituency here.

A closer look at the bill in question, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, shows that its title belies a more disturbing reality. The Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey describes that the $87 billion figure was a June Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate. By the way, am I the only one mystified as to how the federal government can call it “savings” when we cut money we can’t afford to spend from one program and then turn around and shift it to another? In any event, two subsequent updates by the CBO showed that, when the total cost of the bill and the risk of lending are taken into account, the bill “would much more likely become a new, roughly $40 billion burden,” explains McCluskey. Of course, those facts were decidedly inconvenient to the bill’s author, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), so he retreated to the common Democratic political tactic of claiming that Republicans have an agenda which prejudices them against students, families and taxpayers (Read: ordinary people).

The reasoned opposition to massive expansion of expensive government programs – such as the stimulus and impending health care legislation – without a careful examination of both the text of a bill and its economic implications is a laudable action.

But let’s also make sure not to get nickel-and-dimed into an ever-deepening hole of debt by proposals that seem small in comparison. Let’s hope that Notre Dame is opposing this bill for the right reasons, and that the University keeps fighting the good fight.

Brendan O’Reilly


Carroll Hall

Sept. 22