Reason Roundup

Harris Would Hike Teacher Pay Across the Nation by 23 Percent

Plus: Is Obamacare canceled? Beware "national cyber strategy." And Baltimore attempts eminent domain to take down a racetrack.


F. Carter Smith/Polaris/Newscom

Raises would be kickstarted by $315 billion from feds. In a plan unveiled yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) said she would raise base public school teacher pay nationwide by 23 percent, a raise of about $13,500 per year for the average teacher. The proposal is not congressional legislation but part of the Harris 2020 campaign.

It's a politically popular plank—perhaps. "Last year, a poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that almost 90 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans thought teachers were underpaid," notes HuffPost.

But part of the reason is that communities routinely vote not to raise their own local or state taxes in order to raise local teacher pay. And it seems like Harris' plan would only overcome part of that problem: Community members would still see tax increases or other tradeoffs to cover the salary hikes, they just wouldn't have a choice in the matter anymore.

Under the Harris proposal, "the Department of Education would work with states to set a base salary goal, which would vary by state depending on how much professionals with similar educational levels make there at the beginning of their careers," write Rebecca Klein and Maxwell Strachan. "That pay level would then increase based on tenure and additional qualifications to keep up with the pay levels of people in comparable fields." Schools would not be allowed to divert funds for existing programs to teacher pay.

In other words, the federal government would determine what teachers across the country get paid, and disallow variation between different communities.

Harris promises that the feds would provide much of the funds for this…you know, along with providing "Medicare for All," reparations to black Americans, launching the Green New Deal (all campaign promises so far), and housing all the new federal prisoners a Harris presidency would surely create (this one not talked about so much).

Her campaign said federal contribution to the teacher raises would cost about $315 billion over 10 years. But federal funding would only cover the first 10 percent of the gap. States would then only get more federal funds based on how much they put into the teacher-pay fund.

Harris' rationale for the teacher measure is telling. Here's what she said at a campaign event in Texas last Saturday:

I'm declaring to you that by the end of my first term, we will have improved teachers' salaries so that we close the pay gap. Because right now, teachers are making over 10 percent less than other college-educated graduates and that gap is about $13,000 a year. And I am pledging to you that through the federal resources that are available, we will close that gap.

Leaving alone the likelihood of that statistic being accurate, it showcases how Harris would sees salaries and fairness. Everyone who went to college, no matter what they studied or what jobs they went into after, should make around the same pay, like the strictly tiered federal government pay system writ large across all of U.S. industry.


Tech companies facing onslaughts from all sides. In the new Cyberlaw podcast, Stewart Baker and Amy Zegart "discuss the national cyber strategy and what's wrong with it, besides all the bloviating," as Baker blogged at The Volokh Conspiracy yesterday. More:

We also explore the culture clash between DOD and Silicon Valley (especially Google), and whether the right response to the Mueller report would be to conduct a thorough investigation into how the Intelligence Community and Justice handled the collusion allegations at the start of the Trump Administration. […] Apparently looking for Odd Couple of the Month coverage, Sen. Josh Hawley is sounding all Sen. Elizabeth Warren-y about Facebook and Silicon Valley. And Devin Nunes is renewing claims of social media bias against conservatives. Indeed, he's putting his lawyers where his mouth is, suing Twitter and his fake Twitter Mom for defamation. It's an uphill battle, but I would really love to read the internal Twitter emails about Nunes if his case gets to discovery. That's his best chance to show actual malice.


Affordable Care Act should be dismantled entirely, says Justice Department. More from Reason's resident health care expert, Peter Suderman, here. Comments Volokh Conspiracy blogger and lawyer Jonathan Adler:

The Justice Department's change in position is astounding. It was remarkable enough that DOJ failed to question the states' standing to challenge an unenforced and unenforceable mandate, and even more remarkable that the Department failed to defend a readily defensible federal law. It is more remarkable still that the DOJ is abandoning its position—and the position on severability advanced by the Obama Administration—in favor of a highly strained and implausible approach to severability with little grounding or precedent.

I was among those who cheered the selection of William Barr as Attorney General and hoped his confirmation would herald the elevation of law over politics within the Justice Department. I am still hopeful, but this latest filing is not a good sign.


  • Transparency win:
  • Here's what celebrity (and lately, increasingly erratic) lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted yesterday morning:
  • By the end of the day, Avenatti had been arrested by the feds on extortion charges, after Nike went to the FBI and it listened in on subsequent calls between Avenatti and Nike representatives.
  • It looks like the part of a Florida bill that would've created a Solicitation of Prostitution registry has been voted down.
  • Good news for D.C. drinkers: