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“Tax the millionaires, not teachers and bus drivers,” says NEA VP

Labor leaders urge Senate to strike middle-class tax increase from health care bill


WASHINGTON - December 10, 2009 -

The National Education Association joined other labor organizations at the U.S. Capitol today to urge lawmakers to eliminate the excise tax currently in the Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The tax would target the health insurance plans of middle-class workers by taxing benefit packages over a certain amount. The tax would be placed on insurers, but likely passed on to workers by way of benefit cuts, raised deductibles and increased co-payments.

NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen addressed the group after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced an amendment to strip the tax from the bill. Eskelsen stood alongside leaders and members of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers Local 9477 and the Teamsters Local 730. 

“We are in favor of health care reform, but the hemorrhaging middle class should not have to foot the bill,” Eskelsen said. “We should tax the millionaires, not teachers and bus drivers. Lawmakers must realize that this plan would not accelerate raises for workers, but put the brakes on the very benefits that served as models for health care reform.”

Eskelsen stressed how the excise tax would be devastating for educators.  Across the country, the economy is already shedding education jobs. Educators have accepted salary freezes or cuts in order to save their health care coverage for themselves and their families. The excise tax would cut needed benefits for educators who serve our nation’s children so well.

In a recent poll by the Mercer consulting firm, about two-thirds of employers said they would raise deductibles, change insurance providers and use other cost-cutting measures to avoid the dreaded excise tax.

“The excise tax is a tax on the middle class,” Eskelsen said. “Throughout this process, we keep hearing politicians say that you can keep your current insurance plan if you choose. The excise tax would prevent that from happening. The excise tax would penalize people who have the quality health care that all Americans should be afforded.”

For more information on NEA’s positions on health insurance reform: www.nea.org/healthcare

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT:(202) 822-7823, media-relations-team@elist.nea.org