Salvy Splash goes to a Special Olympian
Roy Blunt, this is your conscience.
We, your better angels, were perhaps irrationally buoyed — you know how angels are — by your recent Senate vote to protect the separation of powers against the president’s unconstitutional invocation of an emergency in his bid to build a border wall.
We also took your statement that no, federal funding for the Special Olympics would not be cut, despite President Donald Trump’s and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ efforts to do just that, as another potential harbinger of an awakening to shame.
Silly as it seems now, we even dared to hope that at the Senate appropriations hearing you chaired on Thursday, you might explain to Secretary DeVos why this proposed cut would be so problematic.
But instead of doing that, you used your time to tell DeVos “I appreciate the decisions you have to make,” and “I agree that we have to constantly reevaluate programs.” You questioned her about workforce training, so we did get to hear about the “Swiss model” of high school students in “earn-and-learn situations.”
But if support for the Special Olympics is bipartisan, why did you and others leave it to Democrats on the committee to note the soulless shamefulness of even trying to cut it?
The public as a whole was disgusted, and it was their outrage that convinced the president to call off his own attempt to undercut this great program.
Then, faster than you could say “school voucher,” the same education secretary who’d spent the previous two days defending this heartless cut, said, “I’m pleased and grateful that the president and I see eye-to-eye on this.”
Why oh why, Sen. Blunt, did you and your fellow Republicans at that hearing fail to ask DeVos even one difficult question about the Special Olympics or any other aspect of the $7.1 billion in proposed cuts that would hurt vulnerable kids the most?
DeVos said that was “in the scheme of things, a pretty minimal reduction.”
You know better. And yet you left it to Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin to note that “whoever came up with that idea” of cutting the Special Olympics while increasing taxpayer support for charter schools by $60 million, “deserves a Special Olympic gold medal for insensitivity.”
No Republican asked, as Washington’s Patty Murray did, why, even under court order, the Department of Education has continued to block relief for 140,000 defrauded college borrowers, most of whom were cheated by predatory for-profit institutions.
You left it to New Hampshire Democrat Jean Shaheen to ask about cuts to programs that help first-generation and low-income college students. It was Rhode Island’s Jack Reed who probed the cuts that would worsen the crisis of crumbling schools.
Connecticut’s Chris Murphy asked about the massive cuts to suicide prevention programs amid a spike in those deaths. And he asked, too, about why tax cuts for the wealthy should be taken out on disabled kids.
Sen. Blunt, it’s your job to ask these questions. And ours to badger you about why you don’t.