Mitch Daniels: Direct Populist Anger Towards Teachers

Indiana's GOP Governor Mitch Daniels has been the talk of the town in Washington as a potential 2012 White House aspirant, a seemingly can-do Republican among a group of ideologues. One big problem with this meme: Daniels is a pretty fierce conservative ideologue. (Another is that he was a key member of the Bush economic team as head of the Office of Management and Budget.) Here's Ben Smith, writing under the headline "Daniels' target: Greedy ... teachers?":

Some of the anger out there now, he said, is directed at "not just Wall Street or overpaid corporate CEOs but government employees and their unions."

Public education, he said, used to be "the bloody shirt of American politics," a kind of conversation stopper that could be invoked as a way of saying if you want cuts, "you hate children." Not anymore, he said, putting himself in the shoes of a voter who says, "The teacher next door I just figured out makes a lot more than I do but doesn't work all year."

Let's go to the actual numbers to see if Daniels is in fact correct in his assessment that Americans are just as angry at teacher pay as they are at CEO pay.

The latest data I could find on CEO compensation come from 2007, before the Great Recession, but they are nevertheless instructive. In June of that year, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey asked Americans, "In general, do you think most CEO's of large American companies are compensated too much, too little, or just about the right amount?" A whopping 81 percent of respondents said "too much"; just 1 percent said "too little"; and a paltry 14 percent said "just right".

Compare these numbers to those on teacher pay. A January 2010 poll from CBS News asked Americans, "As far as you know, do you think, on average, public school teachers in this country are paid too much, too little, or about the right amount?" The numbers are close to a mirror opposite of those on CEO pay. Fully two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) said public school teachers are not paid enough, while a quarter (24 percent) said they are paid about right. A mere 4 percent said public school teachers are paid too much.

Usually, when a politician lines himself up with a 4 percent minority of the public on the issue, he is not treated as being within the mainstream of American politics. Then again, I'm not holding my breath for the point at which the Beltway media stops fawning over Daniels.

Tags: Mitch Daniels, White House 2012, Education (all tags)



Working all year

What really torks me is this business about teachers not working all year. Bullcrap. When does Daniels, and the thousands of others who ask that question, think teachers plan their curriculums? When I visit my old high school during the summer, I almost always find everyone I want to see, working at least mornings. And what time they do take off is more than earned during the school year. 8-3 may be the hours they're contractually required to be in the building, but then they'll be tutoring and meeting with kids until 4 and grading papers, updating curriculums, and writing tests until 8. I'd bet a grade school teacher works every bit as many hours as any other American, if not more.

This is the point where I would normally write, "What I mean to say is, Mitch Daniels hates your children," but after that Glenn Beck style parody open thread, did I ever learn some people don't know sarcasm when they see it...

by Nathan Empsall 2010-03-09 12:21PM | 2 recs
RE: Mitch Daniels: Direct Populist Anger Towards Teachers

Republicans really do hate your kids.  It makes them look like bad parents when your kids turn out "better" than theirs AND for less money than the private schools they send them to.  And it makes it harder for the patronage system to work when other peoples kids are better qualified for the jobs.

And I think teachers SCARE Republicans more than anything, because teachers think AND talk back.

by Hammer1001 2010-03-09 05:04PM | 0 recs
The problem isnt salary

The problem isnt really salary as far as the cost of education. Its the benefits. For example, teachers and other public employees who receive lifetime health benefits after retirement at extremely low cost, the bulk of the cost placed onto to the burden of taxpayers. Pensions given that allow for some, particularly police officers who can earn their entire yearly pay in pension for the remainder of their lives. I have no problem paying these folks what they are worth while they are on the job. I have no problem with good benefits and retirement benefits. However, when we continue to essentially pay the full share of their benefits and salaries into retirement, thats a problem. Look at Nassau and Suffolk County NY. Police officers get yearly pensions paying out as much as $100,000+ per year. How is it feasible that taxpayers can continue to pay for these benefits and support those currently on the job? They cant. The result is double digit property taxes, high sales tax rates and an inability for resident to save money of their own. Its these absurd benefit packages that folks in the public sector are earning. It cannot be sustained.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-03-09 08:42PM | 0 recs
RE: The problem isnt salary

I have no problem with good benefits and retirement benefits.

But you clearly do. Good benefits cost money and your entire post states you have a problem with that.

by vecky 2010-03-09 09:55PM | 0 recs

I have a problem with excessive and lavish benefits. Public employees who retire with yearly pension payments that are equivalent to their yearly salary is lavish. employees who retire with health benefits which are almost entirely funded by the public with the retired employee paying pennies on the dollar is lavish. You actually believe that somene should retire with a yearly pension payment equal to their yearly salary at taxpayer expense?

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-03-09 10:03PM | 0 recs
RE: wrong

I agree with you. Problem is pension benefits are usually calculated to "maintain a standard of living" rather than just "keep them out of poverty" (ala Social Security).

by vecky 2010-03-09 11:20PM | 0 recs
RE: wrong

Understood. However I dont think paying someone a $100k+ yearly pension is anything but extravagant.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-03-10 01:37PM | 0 recs
Most collecting pension do not collect SS

Anyone complaining about pensions should keep in mind that most do not get to collect full social security benefits when they retire. I switch to a state employee a few years ago and signed up for a pension. When I signed up, I was informed that I can only collect 40% of what I paid into social security up to that point which by the way is around $300 a month. For most of us, the pension is all we have to live on unless we saved for our own IRA account on our own. Frankly, I think sometimes the private sector has it made. If your 401k goes down the drain, you have social security as a backup. State employees only have a pension. If we lose the pension, we have no backup.

by johanna94 2010-03-09 10:35PM | 0 recs
RE: Most collecting pension do not collect SS

That sucks... the whole idea of Social Security was to provide a back-up source of retirement income. Are your FISA withholdings any different?

by vecky 2010-03-10 11:18AM | 0 recs
RE: Most collecting pension do not collect SS

Even though no social security is taken out of my paycheck, I still get Medicare taken out. The way it currently work in my state is that when I retire, I get to keep the same health care plan I have (which retired employees have to pay for) until I am elgible for Medicare which takes over. Sometimes I work two jobs for a few months a year and I still get Social Security taken out. I know I will never collect the money but still I do not mind. I have family members who are on SS and they need the money to pay bills.

by johanna94 2010-03-10 06:56PM | 0 recs

Daniels equating teachers with bank CEO's is the type of stuff we need to limit his chances.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-10 11:01AM | 0 recs


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