Schooling is the main target for a simple reason: In the United States public schools account for 50 percent of the state and local budgets and are subject to state and local laws. The federal government tries to influence education policies, but, apart from its support of charter schools (a form of privatization), its only leverage is a few billion dollars in aid, which does not go very far when spread around school systems in 50 states.
In 2010 the GOP won 23 statehouses, including Democratic strongholds such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. New Jersey fell into Republican hands in 2009. Of the major states, only New York and California resisted the tidal wave of Republican victories, although in New York the Senate passed to Republican rule. But Democratic governors — including New York's Andrew Cuomo and California's Jerry Brown — are in the thrall of large business interests as well and are attacking public employees' wages, pensions and health benefits to solve severe budget shortfalls.
Spread the Wealth
Completely off the table is any proposal to raises taxes on the rich. In New York State there are some calls for restoring the virtually extinct stock transfer tax — still on the books — which would levy a tax of one dollar for every thousand dollars of stock traded in the three major exchanges. Studies estimate that if fully implemented the tax would raise $12 billion and all but erase the state's deficit and leave a few billion dollars to boost spending on education, healthcare and the abysmally low state employee wages and benefits. (Such a tax could also curtail the "hyper-trading" that has become a new means for powerful institutional traders to profit from manipulating the markets.) The Right's strategy of abrogating decades of collective bargaining has been thrown into bold relief with GOP governors targeting public employee unions in Indiana, Idaho, Ohio and Wisconsin, among other states.