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Letter to House Opposing Speaker Boehner's "Plan B"

December 19, 2012

Dear Representative: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to VOTE NO on Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B” for a fiscal cliff deal, scheduled for a vote this week.  NEA strongly opposes this plan, which would raise insufficient revenue and would continue to place the burden for deficit reduction on struggling middle class and lower-income families.  We also urge you to VOTE YES on Representative Levin’s plan to extend tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000 a year.  This proposal will help raise needed revenues and provide some balance given the deep spending cuts already in place.  Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress. 

We are deeply opposed to the fact  that Speaker Boehner’s plan is silent on the sequester, thereby leaving  in place the deep, arbitrary cuts to discretionary programs scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013.  These senseless across-the-board cuts would be devastating to the programs and services that ordinary Americans depend on, including education, transportation, public safety, medical research, and environmental protection. 

Non-defense discretionary programs provide the long-term investments that spur economic growth, yet, they have borne the entire brunt of deficit reduction.  In fact, funding for services like education, benefits for veterans, and transportation already took a $900 billion hit in last year’s Budget Control Act and recent funding bills. If Congress allows Speaker Boehner’s plan to pass, we are only steps away from inflicting tremendous, irreversible harm to our nation’s 50 million students, risking our children’s future. Across-the-board cuts will mean fewer educators, students crammed into already overcrowded classrooms, shorter school weeks, 4-year-olds cheated out of early childhood education, and dreams dashed for aspiring college students due to soaring costs.  State-specific information on how many students the cuts would impact and how many education jobs would be lost is available on the NEA website at http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/OMB_Sequester_Impact_States.pdf

At the same time, the Boehner plan fails to raise anywhere near the revenue needed for a balanced fiscal agreement.  It continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals - on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 - while eliminating tax cuts that help 25 million struggling students and families. It would also continue the lower rates on estate taxes, another tax break for the ultra-wealthy.  We support Representative Levin’s plan to let tax cuts expire for those earning over $250,000, thereby providing revenue for deficit reduction and economic recovery and the balance that has been missing with the focus on cuts to critical programs. 

The Boehner plan would also cut off unemployment assistance to two million Americans, cause devastating cuts to Medicaid — which serves one third of our nation’s children-- and make deep cuts to Medicare.  In so doing, it once again chooses to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it rather than asking the top earners to pay their fair share.  Children, the middle class, seniors, and other vulnerable populations cannot be expected to bear the brunt of deficit reduction, while the wealthy avoid paying their fair share. 

Speaker Boehner’s ‘millionaires’ plan  is more of the same: protect tax cuts for the wealthiest while demanding even more from our students and seniors and extracting further cuts in education, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Again, we urge you to VOTE NO on Plan B and to work together to find a balanced, fair fiscal agreement that puts America’s families first. 

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations