The Public School Bailout

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If you think the United States is facing a budget crisis, take a look at the states.

Historic shortfalls in tax revenue are driving states, most of whom cannot run deficits, to slash spending. When public spending dips, public schools often take the first hit.

As the Recovery Act's assistance runs out in the next 18 months, hundreds of thousands of jobs -- including about 275,000 education jobs -- could be on the chopping block in the next school year, according to the American Association of School Administrators.

Cong. George Miller has proposed, and the House has approved, a $23 billion plan to rescue more than 200,000 education jobs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities surveys the teacher-termination scourge that already faces the states and explains why more stimulus is necessary.

Early today, Ezra Klein wondered why Sen. Harry Reid seemed to eager to wrap up debate on the financial regulation bill. It's unclear that it is. Well, it is important, but less than visceral, to tell constituent swing voters that you've introduced hard derivatives legislation to ensure we don't have another financial crisis. If all politics is local, it's easier to wave around a jobs bill designed to save local teacher, fireman and police officer jobs. Teachers and incumbents have something in common. Their jobs are in jeopardy. Miller's bill might be a common solution.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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