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Est. April 5, 2002
May 25, 2017 - Issue 700

What If Trump Leaves Office
Pence, Hatch, Ryan
Public Education?

"Trump’s situation is unlikely to improve, and
the 2018 midterm elections are beginning to
suggest the possibility of a wave election for
Democrats in the House of Representatives
and/or the Senate.  If that occurs for either
or both bodies, Republicans are most likely
to begin abandoning him in droves."

In the past week, President Donald Trump has become increasingly under siege. Despite his attempts to change the subject with his first overseas trip as President, the indication that he has abused his office continues to intensify. It has been recently shown that Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.” In both instances, Coats and Rogers rejected his requests and memorialized the inquiries in their respective internal email networks, as did former FBI director, James Comey, of Trump’s plea that he drop the investigation of former National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Even a few Republicans are beginning to consider impeachment of their beleaguered leader. But more interesting is the fact that Vice President Mike Pence established a political action committee (PAC) on May 17th in the middle of these controversies, “… marking the first time that a sitting Vice President has launched his own PAC.” Could it be that Pence knows something that the rest of us do not? Nevertheless, the presidential succession is: Pence, Senate President Pro Tempore, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and then Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Thus, public education stakeholders would do well to prepare for that eventuality. Trump’s situation is unlikely to improve, and the 2018 midterm elections are beginning to suggest the possibility of a wave election for Democrats in the House of Representatives and/or the Senate. If that occurs for either or both bodies, Republicans are most likely to begin abandoning him in droves.

This will be manifested in their joining with Democrats to expand the scope of present investigations and tabling Trump’s legislative agenda. And there is dwindling support of the President among rank-and-file Republican leaders across the nation. Additionally, the Cartel-funded network of conservative billionaires and their foundations, think tanks, and its assemblage of grassroots and political surrogates have a strategy to quickly move from Trump to someone else in the succession line. Many in this group did not back him during the presidential primaries or the general election. They have invested billions of dollars in establishing a far right political structure at local, state, and national levels since the 1980s (i.e., the Bradley, Broad, Gates, Walton, Fisher, and numerous other local and regional philanthropies and wealthy corporate leaders).

In a current expose’ of the Bradley Foundation by Mary Bottari, of the Center for Media and Democracy, it was discovered that the organization likely committed various violations of its tax exempt status under the 501 (c) (3) by subsidizing training schools for Republicans, funding efforts to turn Democratic-leaning blue states into Republican-leaning red states, and other activities that appear to be partisan projects for the benefit of specific Republican candidates. Under current laws governing charitable donations, a strong case can be made that the Bradley Foundation has broken the law and could be subject to a number of penalties, including “…a forfeiture of (the) foundation’s assets to the government.”

The Cartel also has a strong hold on Trump’s top three successors: Pence, Hatch, and Ryan. Now it becomes dicey since Pence’s close alliance with and implementation of Trump’s initiatives during the campaign and his brief presidential administration also place him at risk of being taken out of office. Therefore, there is a possibility that Pence will likewise be a casualty of the growing scandal if Trump is purged. Let’s examine each of Trump’s potential successors in turn and their implications for public education.

Vice President Pence, first up in the queue, may be forced to exit the line due to his personal violations of federal law and his exposure in the Russia investigations. However, if he is able to ascend to the presidency, his public education policies will be in sync with those of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. He has taken hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from DeVos, her PACs, and her family members. Moreover, he worked hand-in-hand with her in expanding vouchers and undermining public schools during his terms as a Congressman for and Governor of Indiana.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would be the first Senate President Pro Tempore to rise to the office of President. His voting record for the privatization and defunding of public education has been robust for more than four decades. He has been a consistent devotee of publicly-funded, private school vouchers for public, private, and religious schools; sponsor of tax-free savings accounts for public schools; and a backer of charter schools where teachers receive authorization and funding to establish charter schools. More recently, he has voted against billions of dollars in grants to local education agencies and against legislation to reduce class size, for the elimination of after-school programs, and for more flexibility in federal school rules. A long-time ally of DeVos, he is as anti-public education as she is. The National Education Association (NEA) has given Hatch a rating of 27%.

Paul Ryan (R-WI), Speaker of the House and third in line to be President after Pence and Hatch, has been an aggressive advocate for privatizing public schools since the 1990s. After interning for Sen. Bob Kasten (R-WI) and serving as his legislative aide after graduating from college and a series of Republican jobs, he was elected to Congress in 1998 at the age of 28, making him the second youngest member of the House of Representatives. The Bradley Foundation identified Ryan as an up and coming Republican leader when it threw its formal and informal weight behind him in his first Congressional campaign. Since that time, he has functioned as an ardent sponsor of its school choice and privatization agenda. Like the others in the line of presidential succession, Ryan has feasted on the Cartel’s political largess.

Public education will not be served any better by either of the top three replacements for President Trump should he be forced to vacate the office. In fact, public education would be in even greater danger as either of these three amigos would bring less chaos and drama to the presidency. Each of them has the personal and political skills to continue the destruction of public education in a less volatile manner than the incumbent.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
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