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Ten years later nation still reeling from Bush-era tax cuts

Misplaced priorities put millionaires ahead of students and working families

WASHINGTON - June 09, 2011 -

In 2001, the American people were promised tax reductions that would provide immediate relief to middle-income Americans, speeding economic recovery and the pace of job creation. In 2011, the nation is seeing the wealth gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” grow wider.

The following statement regarding the 10th anniversary of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 has been issued by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“Ten years ago, thinking it was in the best economic interest of our nation, Congress and President George W. Bush provided substantial tax cuts to an elite few in an attempt  to bolster the economy. As a high school math teacher, I tend to rely on numbers, but even a numbers guy like me can understand that there is no growth or relief for the majority, when you cater to a select few.

“The only thing to come from the Bush-era tax cuts is a list of names of who to thank for the irreconcilable job losses, weakening economy and understaffed schools. Ten years later, still in the midst of a historic economic crisis, it’s more clear than ever that there are two vastly different visions for our country. On the one hand there's the philosophy that values jobs and families, and on the other a philosophy of, ‘if you have it, keep it; if you don't, you're out of luck.’

“Just look at the budget proposal, passed in April by extreme leadership in the U.S. House—it benefits large corporate donors and special interest groups, at the expense of America’s middle class and our nation’s students.  Too many major corporations don’t pay a dime in taxes, even as they rake in record profits.  It’s more of the same failed and unfair tax policies the Bush Administration began that put us in this boat in the first place.

“The Administration's proposed budget is a better, more-balanced approach because it is a comprehensive, pro-growth economic investment. That plan is one that values education and respects America’s middle class rather than catering to the wealthy, corporations, and CEOs.

“There’s no doubt about it:  strong public schools are essential to a strong middle class. NEA and its 3.2 million members, who vote, encourage lawmakers to stop playing shell games with the resources needed to put the economy on square footing.  Start fully funding the programs and initiatives that benefit those most in need and get back to the business of making our country and our schools great.

“This summer’s homework assignment to policymakers is simple: 

  1. Make sure our schools are strong for our students;
  2. Don’t mortgage our students’ futures by cutting short their opportunities;
  3. Make sure that in the fall, students have reasonable class sizes, have access to the individual support students need to succeed, a broad and rich curriculum, and an opportunity to go to college with enough financial aid to avoid a lifetime of debt.

“The two visions of America couldn’t be more different.  This economy is tough today and many are making sacrifices—but our students still need to compete in the world tomorrow.  Let’s get our priorities straight.”

For a glance at the stark differences between the two visions for America, see NEA’s charts comparing the cost of the tax cuts to the cost of providing needed resources for Title I, IDEA, and  Pell Grants.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee 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: NEA PR  (202) 822-7823,