They don’t even fit with Obama’s diagnosis of the problems at hand. Do we know how to make fathers present in their kids’ lives, or how to make up for their absence? No. Are we sure how we should respond to the decline in manufacturing employment? Or how to stop people from getting involved in drugs? No and no.
Some people are confident that more funding for early education will yield benefits for poor kids. Others look at the same evidence and think that the few examples of success can’t easily be replicated. Even if the first group is correct, there’s no reason to think that early education will, even in tandem with other reforms, “solve” the problems of Baltimore. And federal efforts at job training don’t have a sterling track record.
If I were president and thought I knew an obvious way to bring peace and prosperity to troubled cities — and felt pretty strongly about it — I’d maybe mention it before my seventh year in office. Drop it into a State of the Union address, for example. But it just isn’t the case that we’re a new federal program away from fixing the problems Obama identified. It isn’t the case that conservatives are standing in the way of what everyone knows would work because we just don’t share Obama’s compassion.