Costly promises

A bill to provide $26 billion of funding for education and Medicaid was considered such an emergency by Democrats in Congress that the House returned last week for an extraordinary session during the August recess to send the measure to the White House for President Obama's signature.

Supporters said the bill would distribute $10 billion to school districts across the nation and allow them to reverse teacher layoffs. Another $16 billion is to help states fund their Medicaid programs. In all, the bill would save 300,000 jobs, backers claimed.

Remember when President Clinton said he was going to put 100,000 police officers on the street? That became one of his proudest accomplishments -- except for one thing: Only a few additional officers were ever hired. Many police departments used the money to keep the officers they had.

The expectations of this latest spending measure by Congress are misleading as well. In plain fact, most school districts won't get a dime of the money until next year, much too late to undo teacher layoffs this year.

Worse than that, the handout merely delays the tough choices local and state governments will have to make as revenue remains tight because of a weak economy. Look out for more hollow -- and costly -- promises.