Betsy Newmark wrote us to point out that her daughter’s blog had reported on an error committed on Friday by the Washington Post: an error that resulted in this anti-administration headline: “Change Means Fewer Students Will Be Eligible For Pell Grants.” The article claimed that 80,000 to 90,000 low-income students would be knocked out of the Pell program on account of new regulations issued by the Department of Education.
Yesterday, the Post issued a correction. Actually, the new regulations, which are based on updated government data, will expand the number eligible for grants, even though some will become ineligible at the upper end of the qualified income range.
What was most interesting about the story, as Betsy’s daughter pointed out, was the immediate reaction of the Democrats. When the original, incorrect story ran, Senator Jon Corzine jumped in:
Sen. Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.) said he was “outraged that the Bush administration is going forward with these punitive cuts,” adding that the change in the eligibility rules was “nothing more than a backdoor effort to cut student aid funding.”
“For those working to get ahead, this is a scene from ‘The Grinch who stole my education,’ ” he said.
Got that? The Bush administration enlarges the Pell Grant program, and Corzine–obviously without knowing anything about the subject, doing any independent research, or even calling anyone at the Department of Education for verification–is “outraged” at the “punitive cuts.”
To be fair, the outrage wasn’t limited to Democrats. The frequently clueless Arlen Specter, who was happy to give the Post an anti-administration quote even though he had no idea what the facts were, “said he was ‘very unhappy’ and promised to renew the battle for broader Pell Grant funding next year.” And Specter wonders why he isn’t more respected within his own party.
It’s just a guess, but I suspect we’ll be hearing about the Bush administration’s “punitive cuts” in the Pell Grant program for years to come.