After a bit of drama and some tension over committee rules (the clerk earned his paycheck at this one) the Betsy DeVos nomination is moving to the Senate floor for a vote after a party line vote in the HELP Committee today. Ed Week on why she probably will get through – although at the committee vote Senators Murkowski and Collins both gave cover for moderate Rs to vote against DeVos even as they did send the nomination through, a no or abstention in committee would have been the game changer though. As it turned out, the way it went down just hardened the Democratic narrative against her.
Republicans want to get her through because the longer this hangs out the harder a vote it becomes.
So, bottom line, as we’ve noted, when they vote probably a good day for Vice President Pence to stick around D.C. (Interesting historical note: a vice president has never cast a tie breaking vote on a cabinet nomination as far as I know) but what we’re probably getting here is a politically crippled Education Secretary who will have her work cut out for her. Also, and related, the staff work here has thus far been questionable…
Eva Moskowitz with the case for DeVos in NY Post today.
For everyone thinking the teachers unions are irrelevant in the Trump-era it’s worth noting that DeVos has emerged as the most publicly controversial Trump cabinet-nominee – and that’s saying something in the current context (others like HHS and Treasury are getting more pushback but DeVos has become the public face of opposition to Trump’s nominees). Calls are pouring into Senate offices – substantially more than other nominees by some accounts. Yes, some of it is politics, positioning, and all that but they are still relevant.
Here’s the most interesting pension article you’ll probably read today. The Park Slope food coop in a big fight over its pension fund. Better color from the WSJ’s account:
“It was a bunch of Wall Streeters who came up and made this presentation, and 40 years ago you could never imagine Wall Streeters being part of the coop,” said Mr. Thomas, who works as a fundraiser for a new-music nonprofit.
The Wall Streeters were “perfectly nice gentleman,” Mr. Thomas added, but rubbed “the crunchy people in the front row” the wrong way. They used a complicated Powerpoint, a rarity at coop meetings. “It was, like, graphs and stuff,” he added.
I have no views on what the Park Slope coop should or should not invest in. And no views on what’s appropriate content for their meetings. But, this reminds me of a story an urban superintendent told me once about an attempted deal to refinance some pension debt at favorable rates. The pension trustees – who didn’t have financial backgrounds – didn’t get the proposal with all its complexity and shot it down. That cost millions in public money.
In other news, here’s Chad Aldeman on why despite what you may have heard teacher pensions are not very good for actual teachers.