Federal Legislative Update August 2012
August 3, 2011
THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! CONGRESS IS HEADING HOME TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Where will you see your Member of Congress this month? At a back-to-school event? A Labor Day picnic? A townhall meeting? At your local supermarket? Members of Congress will be at home in their districts until September. And, they will want to hear from YOU! As the November election quickly approaches, now is the perfect time to make sure your Representatives in Washington, DC know what is on your mind.
When Congress returns after recess, they will be debating and voting on issues of critical importance to educators. On the agenda — whether education programs will be subject to deep cuts that will cause great harm to students; whether those most able to do so will be asked to pay their fair share toward deficit reduction; and whether the middle class will see tax hikes while the wealthy continue to get tax breaks. As an educator, YOU have the power to impact these debates. Your experience and your expertise are critical! Members of Congress need to hear how their decisions will impact you, your students, your family, and your community.
Talking with your Members of Congress this month won’t even require making an appointment. Most will be out in the community talking to constituents and making their case for re-election. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard. When you see your Members of Congress, ask them:
- How will they ensure equity for all students — to make sure that every student, no matter where he or she lives, has access to the best education possible? Learn more about ESEA reauthorization and how educators are leading the way to improve student achievement.
- How are they going to make sure that education programs don’t get hit with more deep cuts? Learn more about looming cuts that will hurt students and educators.
- What are they doing to ensure a fair tax system — one that doesn’t overburden the middle class and makes sure that the richest two percent pay their fair share? Learn more about the fight for tax fairness.
HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP PROTECTS TAX CUTS FOR RICH AND CORPORATIONS
On August 1, House Republican leadership gave the richest two percent another handout, while pulling the rug out from under millions of children and their families who are falling out of the middle class and into poverty at an alarming rate. The House passed a bill by a vote of 256-171 to give more tax breaks to the wealthiest in our nation. See how your Representative voted. At the same time, the House defeated the Senate-passed bill to extend tax breaks for the middle class by a vote of 170-257. See how your Representative voted.
NEA opposed the House leadership’s plan and supported the Senate-passed bill providing tax cuts for the middle class. Read NEA’s letter to the House and our press release on the votes. The tax cuts passed by the House give a $160,000 tax break, on average, to someone who makes more than $1 million a year. At the same time, under the House bill:
- 12 million families would lose an average of $800 from the elimination of the Child Tax Credit expansion.
- 11 million families would lose an average of $1,100 from the repeal of the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college expenses.
- 6 million families would lose an average of $500 from the elimination of improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Take Action Today:
- Thank Representatives who voted for the middle class tax cut and express disappointment to those who voted against it.
- Learn more about the fight for tax fairness. Visit the Americans for Tax Fairness website.
CHEERS AND JEERS
Representative Steve LaTourette (R-OH), a moderate, pro-Labor, pro-public education Republican who announced his retirement from Congress this week. In making his announcement, Representative LaTourette said “I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground,” adding that some in Congress have become “more interested in fighting with each other than getting the no-brainers done and governing.” Representative LaTourette concluded, “The time has come for not only good politics but good policy.”
Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY), another moderate, pro-Labor, pro-public education Republican who in an interview this week with the Syracuse Post-Standard said, “I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history…We render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides...If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there’s not a lot of value there.”
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, who this week released a report finding that “deceptive” marketing and recruiting practices at for-profit colleges, as well as the low graduation rates and heavy debt burden that plague their students, are not just isolated problems but an industry-wide phenomenon. The report, which culminates a two-year investigation by the Committee, found that taxpayers are investing $32 billion a year in for-profit colleges, through federal student loans, Pell grants and post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits. Yet more than half of the students enrolled in those colleges in 2008-09 left without a degree or diploma within a median of four months.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, chaired by Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), who this week sent a letter to all 50 state governors calling on them to set aside politics and publicly support the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid in their respective states.
House Republican leaders, who pushed through legislation to give more tax breaks to the wealthiest in our nation while at the same time allowing tax breaks for the middle class to expire.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose economic plan, according to a study released this week by the Brookings Institute and the Tax Policy Center, would force a $2,000 tax hike on average middle-class families with children, while the wealthiest five percent of Americans — including Romney — would get a tax cut of $87,000.