President Bush’s budget proposes a 14 percent increase for defense spending and a nearly 50 percent increase in “homeland security.” The Department of Education, slated to receive a 1 percent increase, managed a feeble ninth place in increases among the 14 departments outlined in the Bush Budget.
As more and more details of the budget became known, House and Senate leaders grew fearful that the Bush budget placed too much emphasis on “guns” (military spending) rather than “butter” (domestic spending). Prior to the release of the Bush budget, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), who serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed concern that domestic spending would be sacrificed for increased defense spending:
“I hope that this increase for the Pentagon does not come at the expense of education, health care, Social Security and job training initiatives that are so critical in these difficult economic times.”
In the education community, many individuals had hope that the President would continue the commitment to education that he displayed at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. the day after he signed the No Child Left Behind Act:
“Republicans and Democrats share the same basic commitments on education. We believe good public schools should not be islands of excellence. They should be found in every city and in every neighborhood in America. We believe that no child should ever be written off because every child is important and every child can learn. We believe education is a national priority and a local responsibility; that Washington should be giving our schools help, not giving them orders.”
However, in the days leading up to Feb. 4, it became increasingly clear that the President would not maintain the course that he began with the No Child Left Behind Act. Echoing Sen. Byrd’s comments, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) observed that the President’s budget “will put us further into deficit, use money from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds that both parties called off-limits, and cut education, health care, skills training, and rural programs.”