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Federal Legislative Update July 2012

July 27, 2012
July 20, 2012
July 13, 2012

7/27/12

JOIN THE FIGHT FOR MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS -- HOUSE VOTE IMMINENT!



The House of Representatives will vote the week of July 30 on extending all of the Bush-era tax cuts, including those targeted to our nation’s wealthiest two percent. The House vote comes just days after the Senate passed the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which extends the tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who earn less than $250,000, but ends those tax cuts for the top two percent of earners. See how your Senator voted. The Senate also defeated a proposal by Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McConnell (R-KY) that would have extended all of the Bush-era tax cuts, including those targeted at the wealthiest two percent. See how your Senator voted.

The Senate votes represented a major victory for the middle class and a significant step forward in the fight for a fair tax system in which everyone pays his or her fair share toward economic recovery and deficit reduction. Thank you to all NEA cyber-lobbyists who e-mailed and called the Senate – this victory would not have been possible without your activism! But, the fight continues in the House.

Why are these votes so important? Consider these facts….

  • A hedge fund manager making millions of dollars from speculating on oil futures pays a lower tax rate on his profits than a school teacher pays on the salary she earns from educating our children.
  • People who earn more than $1 million a year get an average tax break of $143,000 from the Bush-era tax cuts, while people making about $50,000 a year get an average tax break of about $1,000.
  • Nearly 1,500 people who made more than a million dollars paid no federal income taxes in 2009.
  • America’s 400 richest families have seen their effective federal income tax rate drop by 60% over the last 50 years, plummeting from 42% to 18%.
  • The federal corporate income tax rate is 35%, but because of loopholes and other factors corporations pay an average effective tax rate of about 25%. And in 2011 corporations paid just a 12% rate.

Our nation can’t afford to give more special tax breaks to the top two percent. To strengthen our economy and reduce the deficit, we need everyone to do his or her part, and that includes the richest two percent.

Take Action Today:

RALLY, HEARING SEEK TO KEEP STUDENTS FROM GOING OFF BUDGET CLIFF



As we have reported in recent weeks, if Congress doesn’t act soon, America’s students will fall victim to massive budget cuts. Under the Budget Control Act passed last year, Congress must find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction or else devastating across-the-board “sequestration” cuts will go into effect on January 2, 2013.

NEA is calling on Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction –including closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the top two percent of all earners, those most able to do so, pay their fair share. Education programs cannot continue to be the source for deficit reduction while millionaires and corporations benefit from tax cuts and loopholes!

This week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee, held a hearing and released a report on the devastating impacts of the looming “sequestration” cuts on social programs, including education. According to the report, states and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in Title I, special education, and Head Start funding, forcing a possible 46,349 education layoffs. Read testimony from the hearing. The hearing was followed by a rally at the Capitol hosted by Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa, that was attended by hundreds of students and activists who are urging action before the end of the year to avoid the looming cuts. Read more about the hearing and rally.

Take Action Today:

CHEERS AND JEERS



Cheers to:

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Representative George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, who called on Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) to schedule a hearing to examine the impact of sequestration on programs within the committee’s jurisdiction, on the individuals and families served by those programs and on the economy.

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Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI), who, at a hearing this week in the Committee on Education and the Workforce, made an eloquent statement about his decades of work in Congress with many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and made special mention of Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) as someone who works collegially with Members from both parties. Representative Kildee is retiring after 35 distinguished years in Congress.

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Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL), who at a hearing this week in the Committee on Education and the Workforce on alternative certification for teachers, raised the issue of the importance of professional practice residency programs for teachers new to the profession.

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Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), who at a hearing this week in the Committee on Education and the Workforce on alternative certification for teachers, spoke about the importance of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Jeers to:

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Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Webb (D-VA), who joined with Republicans to vote against extending tax cuts for the middle class.

7/20/12

TELL CONGRESS: END THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE RICHEST 2%


Did you know…

  • People who earn more than $1 million a year get an average tax break of $143,000 from the Bush-era tax cuts
  • People making about $50,000 a year get an average tax break of about $1,000
  • More than two dozen big corporations paid no federal income taxes in the last four years.

Americans are sick and tired of an unfair tax system that rewards the richest two percent, while sticking the middle class with the tab. According to a study released this week by the Pew Research Center, Americans agree by a 2-1 margin that scrapping the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent will help improve the economy and create a fairer tax system.

Simply put – the current system isn’t right. Our nation can’t afford to give more special tax breaks to the top two percent. To strengthen our economy and reduce the deficit, we need everyone to do his or her part, and that includes the richest two percent. We need to target tax cuts to the middle class, as President Obama has proposed, not to the richest in our nation.

We need you to speak up and tell Congress what is right! Educators and other members of the middle class need to make sure our voices are heard. Tell Congress – no more special treatment for the top two percent; everyone has to play by the same rules.

The Senate could vote as early as next week on extending tax cuts for the middle class. The House is scheduled to vote the week of July 30 on extending all of the expiring tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest two percent.

Take Action Today:

MASSIVE BUDGET CUTS THREATEN AMERICA’S CHILDREN


If Congress doesn’t act soon, America’s students will fall victim to massive budget cuts. Under the Budget Control Act passed last year, Congress must find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction or else devastating across-the-board cuts will go into effect on January 2, 2013. Congress should look for a balanced approach to deficit reduction – one that raises revenue by making sure that the wealthiest pay their fair share.

We are all accountable for student success, and our elected officials have an obligation to ensure that education funding doesn’t fall off a cliff. A recent NEA analysis shows that under the looming cuts, education funding would drop to pre-2003 levels. America’s schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003, and education costs have increased 25 percent, just for K-12. The blow to public education could mean $4.8 billion in funding cuts, fewer services for some 9 million students and potential job losses for 80,000 educators from pre-K to college.

NEA is calling on Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction –including closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the top two percent of all earners -- those most able to do so -- pay their fair share. Education programs cannot continue to be the source for deficit reduction while millionaires and corporations benefit from tax cuts and loopholes!

Take Action Today:

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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President Obama, who announced this week a plan for creating a new national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. Master teachers in all 50 states would make a multi-year commitment to championing the cause of STEM education in their communities and mentoring fellow math and science teachers in their districts. In exchange for these extra duties, Corps members would be eligible for an up-to $20,000 stipend on top of their current salaries. The program would begin with 50 Master Teachers, one for each state, and would expand to 10,000 members over the next four years.

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Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who gave a rousing speech on “Budget Priorities, Values, and the Path Forward” at the Brookings Institute in which she said, “[T]his is the primary prism I view our nation’s budget through, and it’s what guides me as I work in the Senate to impact the choices we make. Not that government can or should solve every problem, of course it shouldn’t, and it can’t. But that we are a nation that has always come together to stand with families like mine. To invest in our people, our communities, our future, and to build the most robust middle class the world has ever seen. That a budget is not just numbers on a page.… Our budget, and our nation, will be defined by the scientists who come out of our schools, by the businesses we create, by our communities, our universities, our research, development, and innovation. And we will be defined by: the opportunities we afford to every one of our families and workers, by the fairness of our society, and by how we treat the most vulnerable among us.”

Jeers to:

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Senate Republicans, who blocked passage of the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase transparency in campaign spending by independent groups. In a 51-44 vote, the DISCLOSE Act failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to clear a Republican filibuster. The vote was strictly along party lines, however Senate Majority Leader Reid voted against the bill in a procedural move that will allow him to the bring the bill up again. The bill would have required disclosure within 24 hours of anyone who donates to independent groups that spent more than $10,000 on campaign ads and other election spending.

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The House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, which passed over the objections of committee Democrats a funding bill for the coming fiscal year that slashes education funding, eliminates critical education programs that help turnaround struggling schools, defunds the Affordable Care Act, and attacks the National Labor Relations Board. Read NEA’s letter opposing the bill.

 

7/13/12

NINE MILLION STUDENTS HARMED; 80,000 JOBS LOST – THE DANGER OF LOOMING “SEQUESTRATION CUTS”


Unless Congress acts, dramatic cuts to education and other critical programs will go into effect on January 2, 2013. Last year’s Budget Control Act requires Congress to find $1.2 trillion in savings toward deficit reduction. If Congress fails to meet this goal, automatic “sequestration” cuts will go into effect in January. Under these across-the-board cuts, education funding will fall off a cliff, dropping to levels not seen since before 2003. America’s elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003, and costs associated with K-12 services have increased 25 percent since 2003.

The sequester cut would dramatically impact 9.35 million students by eliminating services, cutting financial aid, and increasing class sizes. As many as 80,500 jobs could be lost in early education, K-12 and postsecondary education. Since July 2008, the country has lost 312,700 public education jobs. This means there are roughly as many public school jobs today as in December 2004. Yet, there will be 847,000 more pre k-12 public school students this coming school year than in the fall of 2004.

NEA is calling on Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction –including closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the top two percent of all earners -- those most able to do so -- pay their fair share. Education programs cannot continue to be the source for deficit reduction while millionaires and corporations benefit from tax cuts and loopholes!

Take Action Today:

TELL CONGRESS TO FOCUS TAX RELIEF ON THE MIDDLE CLASS


This week, President Obama called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts for one more year for Americans making less than $250,000. Unless Congress acts, these tax cuts will expire at the end of the year. If the tax cuts expire, a typical middle-class family of four will see its taxes go up by $2,200, and America’s small business owners will take a big hit. The President’s proposal would extend tax relief for 98 percent of Americans, including 97 percent of all small business owners in America.

At the same time, Republican leaders are calling for extending all expiring tax cuts, including those targeted at the wealthiest in our nation. Extending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires will simply allow those most able to contribute to economic recovery and deficit reduction to avoid paying their fair share, while continuing to place the burden on those least able to make further sacrifices.

The Senate will vote on extending tax cuts for the middle class within the next few weeks.

Take Action Today:

  • E-mail your Senators and urge them to vote for an extension of middle class tax cuts.
  • Take part in the National Call-In Week, July 16-20. Call 888-744-9958 to be connected to your Members of Congress. Tell them to extend the tax cuts for the middle class and to make sure the wealthiest pay their fair share.
  • Learn more about the fight for tax fairness. Visit the Americans for Tax Fairness website.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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President Obama, who in calling on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts said, “I believe our prosperity has always come from an economy that’s built on a strong and growing middle class -- one that can afford to buy the products that our businesses sell; a middle class that can own homes, and send their kids to college, and save enough to retire on.”

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Representative Pat Meehan (R-PA), who attended and personally addressed NEA members attending the annual NEA Republican Leaders Conference. Cheers also to Republican Members of Congress who taped greetings welcoming educators to the conference – Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Todd Platts (R-PA), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), and Steve LaTourette (R-OH).

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Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who gave an impassioned speech in support of the President’s plan to extend middle class tax cuts, and effectively countering Republican arguments that the President’s plan would harm small businesses.

Jeers to:

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The House of Representatives, which voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act only a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the landmark law. The House passed the “Repeal Obamacare Act” on a largely partisan vote, with five Democrats joining all Republicans in voting to repeal the health care law. See how your Representative voted.