What I want people to take away from my exchange with Bob Beckel

Jennifer Stefano Jennifer Stefano is the executive vice president at the Commonwealth Foundation.
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Monday night on Sean Hannity’s “Great American Panel” I had a little tete-a-tete with Fox News contributor and notorious liberal wit Bob Beckel. Our exchange created a bit of a sensation because at one point during it Bob dropped the f-bomb — on air. But my issue with liberals like Bob isn’t their use of foul language; it’s their imperviousness to facts.

The exchange began during a commercial break. When Bob pulled out the “class card,” accusing me of being “well to do” (I say “accusing” because to many liberals, economic success is something to be ashamed of), I told him to stick to the issues and to name one of President Obama’s spending programs that actually benefits Americans. “Head Start” was his reply.

Head Start is an early childhood development program aimed at low-income children. It, too, is an example of a failed government program.

I told Bob about a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report released in January 2010 called the “Head Start Impact Study.” While the report acknowledges that four-year-olds enrolled in Head Start showed modest short-term gains in some subject areas as a result of the program, those gains disappeared after a few years, and “no significant impacts were found for math skills, pre-writing, children’s promotion, or teacher report of children’s school accomplishments or abilities in any year.”

In fact, according to University of Maryland professors Douglas Besharov and Douglas Call, children who are enrolled in normal day care programs receive the same educational benefits as children enrolled in Head Start, and for less than half the cost ($9,500 a year per child vs. $22,600 a year per child).

These facts, unfortunately, don’t matter to liberals, who insist that we should judge big-government spending programs based on their good intentions rather than on their disastrous results.

Monday night we saw what can happen when a liberal who believes government can do no wrong is confronted with facts he can’t explain away. In his anger, Bob missed the producer counting down to the return from the commercial break. The result: his angry assertion that I didn’t know “what the f***” I was talking about was broadcast live to Fox News Channel’s millions of viewers.

The rest will live on thanks to Twitter, YouTube and the like. Unfortunately, the reaction will focus on his use of the f-word. It’s a shame that a single word will drown out the many words of the HHS report on Head Start.

I’m not offended by Bob’s language so much as I am concerned with the egregious waste of taxpayer dollars that Head Start and other big-government programs represent.

When President Lyndon Johnson announced the creation of the Head Start program in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 18, 1965, he said: “We have taken up the age-old challenge of poverty and we don’t intend to lose generations of our children to this enemy of the human race.”

We should know by now that Johnson’s war on poverty has been a failure, and that big-government programs foster dependency and dysfunction. We should instead commit to ending poverty through pro-growth policies that actually work.

After all, foul language is not an enemy of the human race, but failure to embrace the facts and right the course is.

Jennifer Stefano is a wife, mother and political activist. She is the state director of Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania.