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Federal Legislative Update November 2012

November 30, 2012
November 16, 2012
November 8, 2012
November 2, 2012

11/30/12

TELL CONGRESS TO PASS THE MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUT NOW


As Congress continues to debate complex issues around the looming “fiscal cliff,” they can, and should, act immediately on one quick, easy step to help working families – extending tax cuts for the middle class. Middle class tax cuts are set to expire in a few weeks. If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, a typical middle-class family of four will see its taxes rise by $2,200 starting in 2013. Extending middle class tax cuts would protect 98 percent of American families making less than $250,000 a year and 97 percent of small businesses from paying higher taxes next year.

President Obama has called on Congress to act immediately to extend the middle class tax cuts. And, the Senate already passed a bill to do so earlier this year. But, the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Boehner (R-OH), has refused to act on this important legislation, choosing to hold middle class families hostage while fighting to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent in the nation.

In addition to extending tax cuts for the middle class, Congress must also act quickly to stop the impending across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 2. If these cuts go into effect, more than nine million students will lose critical education services, and nearly 80,000 education jobs could be lost. This week, NEA members joined other union members in a joint lobbying day, meeting directly with Members of Congress. Their message: education has already taken a hit and children have already done more than their share toward deficit reduction. Any deficit reduction deal must be balanced, and that means finally asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share. Read more.

Take Action Today:

  • E-mail Congress and tell them to act immediately to extend tax cuts for the middle class.
  • Take the “Kids Not Cuts” pledge today-- to speak up for America’s kids and working families, and to make sure Congress makes the right choices. Already took the pledge? Share it with at least five friends and ask them to join the fight to stand up for America’s kids and working families.
  • Join union members across the country in our December 5 National Call-in Day: Call our new Educator Connector Line –1-866-293-7278. You will hear brief talking points and will then be asked to enter your zip code to be connected to your elected officials.
  • Share your story. Tell us how “fiscal cliff” budget cuts would affect your students, you, your schools and your school colleagues. Make sure Congress hears your voice and knows you will hold them accountable. Read some of the stories already submitted by educators.
  • Find the latest news on the current debates on our “Kids Not Cuts” page on the Education Votes website.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), who this week urged his Republican colleagues to move forward on extending tax cuts for the middle class before the end of the year.

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Representative Pat Meehan (R-PA), who indicated that he would not be held to a pledge not to raise taxes even on the wealthy, saying “The most important pledge is the one I make to my constituents when I'm sworn in…I'm going to do the very best I can to avoid the fiscal cliff and keep our economy strong."

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Representative Bob Dold (R-OH), who stated his support for acting quickly to extend tax cuts for the middle class, saying, “Let’s make sure we aren’t raising the taxes on the vast majority first.”

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President Obama, who in another speech this week reiterated his calls for a middle class tax cut, saying “if both parties agree we should not raise taxes on middle-class families, let’s begin our work with where we agree. The Senate has already passed a bill that keeps income taxes from going up on middle-class families. Democrats in the House are ready to vote for that same bill today. And if we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well, I’ll sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way. I've got to repeat, I've got a pen. I'm ready to sign it.”

Jeers to:

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who this week continued his call for extending tax cuts for the wealthy and for more spending cuts, while refusing to move an extension of middle class tax cuts.

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Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who made comments this week indicating she might support a deficit reduction deal that includes more spending cuts, saying “The details of the package are less important than the fact that we can reach a compromise and would be $4 trillion in long-term debt reduction. That means everybody's going to hurt a little and everyone is not going to get their way."

thumbsdown Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who at his Excellence in Action Summit this week took aim at teachers’ unions, saying, “We have a system to reward teachers that’s based on an industrialized, unionized model that is completely inappropriate for the 21st century.” Bush also reiterated his support for private school vouchers and for “parent trigger” laws.

11/16/12 

HAVE YOU TAKEN THE “KIDS NOT CUTS” PLEDGE? SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!


Educators and friends of public education – have you taken the “Kids Not Cuts” pledge? Have you promised to speak up for America’s kids and working families, and to make sure Congress makes the right choices? If not, please take the pledge today. If you have already taken the pledge, will you share it with at least five friends, and ask them to stand up and hold their Members of Congress accountable for the decisions they make?

Congress returned to Washington, DC this week and began intense debates that will have a direct impact on students, educators, and public education for decades to come. This week, President Obama gave a speech in which he called for an extension of middle class tax cuts and a balanced approach to deficit reduction saying, “I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.”

NEA agrees with the President and echoes his calls for a balanced approach. Corporations and CEOs have the deck stacked in their favor--someone needs to stand up for the children who have already been impacted by deep budget cuts. Read NEA president Dennis Van Roekel’s response to President Obama’s speech, read about his meeting with President Obama and other labor leaders this week, and watch video of president Van Roekel on various news shows spreading NEA’s message on these critical issues.

Take Action Today:

  • Take the “Kids Not Cuts” pledge today-- to speak up for America’s kids and working families, and to make sure Congress makes the right choices. Already took the pledge? Share it with at least five friends and ask them to stand up for America’s kids and working families.
  • Find the latest news on the current debates on our new “Kids Not Cuts” page on the Education Votes website.
  • Listen to Lily Eskelsen, elementary school teacher from Utah and Vice President of the National Education Association, and Mary Kusler, NEA Director of Government Relations, on a MOMocrat podcast discussing how the fiscal showdown will affect K-12 education funding.
  • See state by state data on what pending cuts would mean for students and educators where you live.

NATION COMMEMORATES AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK


This week, American Education Week presented Americans with the opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are helping ensure great public schools for every child. The weeklong celebration featured a special observance each day of the week honoring Veterans, parent, Education Support Professionals, and substitute educators, and also included a special focus on the impact of potential across the board cuts to education. President Obama issued a presidential proclamation commemorating American Education Week, in which he reaffirmed the “national mission of educating our students and training our workers better than any other country on earth” and called upon all Americans to “observe this week by supporting their local schools through appropriate activities, events, and programs designed to help create opportunities for every school and student in America.” Learn more about American Education Week.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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President Obama, who at a press conference this week said reiterated his plan for “Rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas; providing more Americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now; keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology, and clean energy; putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, and our schools; and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way,” and said, “We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. We should at least do what we agree on, and that's to keep middle-class taxes low. “

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Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Dale Kildee (D-MI), and Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), who introduced resolutions in the House of Representatives and Senate commemorating American Education Week. Both resolutions states in part that “public schools are the backbone of the Nation's democracy, providing young people with the tools they need to maintain the Nation's precious values of freedom, civility, and equality.”

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Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a strong friend of public education, who in announcing that she will become Chair of the Senate Budget Committee in 2013 said, “I am fighting for those middle-class families who want us to deal with our debt and deficit, but they also want the investments that are critical to our country moving forward. And I want to help them understand why this word 'budget' is so important to them. It's about whether their kids get access to college, or we have an ability to create the infrastructure for our roads to bring new jobs here, or we have job training, and a really deep concern of mine, that we are ready to take care of the veterans who are returning home by the hundreds of thousands."

Jeers to:

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said that raising tax rates for the wealthy is a “non-starter.” Jeers also to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who rejected the president's call to extend middle class tax cuts quickly, and instead called for extending all of the current tax cuts, including for the wealthiest.

11/8/12

TAKE THE “KIDS NOT CUTS” PLEDGE


NEA is calling on all educators and friends of public education to take the “Kids Not Cuts” pledge – to promise to speak up for America’s kids and working families, and to make sure Congress makes the right choices. By taking this pledge today, you will be signaling your commitment to hold your Members of Congress accountable for the decisions they will make in the coming weeks.

Congress returns to Washington, DC next week for intense debates that will have a direct impact on students, educators, and public education for decades to come. Cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013 would slash billions from education. At the same time, costly Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire. Some lawmakers continue to eye a larger debt deal that could cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. And, there remains a need to focus on creating jobs, not taking actions that will eliminate jobs.

Budget cuts impact real people, and some cuts never heal. Corporations and CEOs have the deck stacked in their favor--someone needs to stand up for the children who have already been impacted by deep budget cuts. If Congress makes the wrong choices, the results could have catastrophic consequences for public education, children, seniors, and our nation as a whole. For education alone, services to over nine million students and nearly 80,000 education jobs are at stake.

Now is the time to make our voices heard. Don’t let them make the wrong choices!

Take Action Today:

  • Visit your Members of Congress while they are back home. Congress will be back home in their districts the week of November 19. Take this opportunity to meet with your representatives face to face. Tell them to stop the cuts to education and to make sure the top two percent pay their fair share. Get talking points and other information to use in your visits from NEA’s Education Votes website.
  • See state by state data on what pending cuts would mean for students and educators where you live.
  • Watch the video from NEA and Americans for Tax Fairness – “Kids Not CEOs” and sign up to learn more.

ELECTION DAY 2012: BIG WINS FOR STUDENTS, MIDDLE CLASS


Students and working families across the nation are reveling in some big Election Day wins at the federal, state and local levels. The victories signal strong support among voters for public schools and the middle class and also demonstrate what happens when educators get involved in political action on behalf of students and their families.

President Barack Obama is going back to the White House, after defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who wanted to shortchange students by inundating public education with voucher and privatization schemes. During his first term, President Obama worked tirelessly to make higher education more affordable and spearheaded the passage of health care reform legislation that has benefitted millions of children nationwide. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel called Obama’s win “a victory for students and their educators.”

The night also saw the election of several new members to the U.S. Senate who will be strong advocates for students, educators, and public schools, including Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, and Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Incumbent education champions were also re-elected in Ohio and Missouri – with the return of Senators Sherrod Brown and Claire McCaskill.

Educators also rallied around key members of the U.S. House of Representatives to help them hold onto their seats, including incumbents John Tierney of Massachusetts and Tim Bishop of New York. Unfortunately, incumbent Judy Biggert of Illinois, a Republican friend of public education strongly backed by educators, lost her bid for re-election.

Read more about these and other election night results, including gubernatorial races and ballot measures impacting education.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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The American electorate, who turned out in huge numbers to exercise their Constitutional right to vote, defying voter suppression efforts and ensuring a strong democracy where every citizen can make his or her voice heard.

11/2/12

HAVE YOU TALKED TO YOUR CONGRESSPERSON YET? TELL CONGRESS TO CHOOSE KIDS OVER CEO’S.


In less than two weeks, Congress will be back in Washington, DC making decisions that will impact students, educators, and public education for decades to come. Policymakers will face some tough questions in the coming weeks. We must make sure they are ready to rise to the challenge and make the correct choices.

Will Congress choose kids over CEOs, or will they continue to give tax breaks to the wealthiest while slashing programs that serve vulnerable children? Will they stop putting the burden for deficit reduction on the shoulders of kids, or will they continue to let corporations get away without paying their fair share?

Now is the time to make our voices heard. Don’t let them make the wrong choices!

Take Action Today:

  • Visit your Members of Congress while they are still back home. Tell them to stop the cuts to education and to make sure the top two percent pay their fair share. Get talking points and other information to use in your visits from NEA’s Education Votes website.
  • Tell Congress to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction and reject more cuts to education.
  • See state by state data on what pending cuts would mean for students and educators where you live.
  • Watch the video from NEA and Americans for Tax Fairness – “Kids Not CEOs” and sign up to learn more.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: ARE YOU READY TO CAST YOUR BALLOT?


With only a few days to go before the election, the stakes are higher than ever. The outcome of very tight races from the White House and Congress, to statehouses, to local school boards will have significant impact on educators, students, families, and communities across the nation. At the same time, across the country, barriers and roadblocks have been put in place to make it harder to exercise your constitutional right to vote. Learn more.

In the remaining days before Election Day, you can take a few simple steps to make sure you and others in your community are informed, ready, and able to cast your ballots:

  • Talk with your colleagues, friends, and family. Make sure everyone is ready and able to vote. Read about fellow educators who are taking the lead to make sure their friends and neighbors exercise their right to vote.
  • Make sure you are registered and ready to vote. Use our online tools to make sure you are registered and get other critical voting information.
  • Check out www.canivote.org to find your polling place and learn what kind of ID to bring with you to vote. See if your state has early voting, so you can cast your ballot right away!

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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President Obama, who in the last presidential debate said, “What I now want to do is to hire more teachers, especially in math and science, because we know that we’ve fallen behind when it comes to math and science. And those teachers can make a difference….If we’ve got math teachers who are able to provide the kind of support that they need for our kids, that’s what’s going to determine whether or not the new businesses are created here. Companies are going to locate here depending on whether we’ve got the most highly skilled workforce.”

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Representative Rosa DeLauro, who issued a statement calling for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, saying, “The fact that women just one year out of college are making only 82 percent of what their male counterparts make shows pay discrimination is clearly not somehow due to a woman’s choice. The existence of a pay gap even after accounting for factors like career and college major demonstrates the need for Congress to act on the issue.” Learn more about the fight for fair pay.

Jeers to:

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Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who at a speech this week in Florida promised to turn federal Title I and special education dollars into vouchers families could use for private schools. Jeers also for Romney’s remarks during the last presidential debate, in which he said he “loves teachers” while also claiming that, if he’s elected, schools will “finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers’ unions [are] going to have to go behind.” Read NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s response to Governor Romney’s statement.

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Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who included 17 education programs in a recent statement about the percentage of the federal budget going to “welfare” programs. On Senator Sessions’ list of welfare programs -- College Work- Study, Title I, after school programs, reading, math-science, teacher quality grants, rural education, school lunch, and more.