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Letter to House on Boehner Plan

December 20, 2012

Dear Representative: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we strongly urge you to: 

  • VOTE NO on Speaker Boehner’s proposal to extend tax cuts for those earning up to one million dollars;
  • VOTE NO on the proposal to replace the sequester with additional cuts in Non-Defense discretionary spending. 

These two proposals make the wrong choices for our nation — opting to place the burden for the nation’s financial crisis squarely on the shoulders of the middle class and the poor, while failing to ask anything of those most able to contribute toward economic recovery.  The unfortunate choices in these two plans reflect perverse priorities and the wrong trade-offs, somehow finding the resources to give a tax break of $120 billion for families with estates over $10 million but refusing to provide $30 billion to extend unemployment insurance for struggling families.  Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress. 

Speaker Boehner’s tax proposal reflects a complete reversal of the steps we should be taking to address the deficit and spur economic recovery.  Rather than asking the top earners to pay their fair share, the plan inconceivably gives more tax breaks to the wealthy while actually raising taxes on lower-income and middle class families.  According to the Tax Policy Center, nearly half of households in the top one percent — people who make between $521,000 and $1 million — would see a small tax cut under Boehner’s plan, an average of $240.  Inexplicably, many families making less than $107,000 would see their taxes increase by several hundred dollars, in part because the bill does not extend the more refundable child tax credit or earned income tax credit, or continue increased tax credits for higher education.  

The second bill on the floor today would replace the 2013 across-the-board cuts by protecting Defense spending yet cutting Non-Defense programs even deeper — a cut in 2013 of $27 billion below last year’s bipartisan Budget Control Act. The proposed cuts to education will hurt the neediest students, causing class sizes to rise even further, forcing elimination of more programs aimed at providing a well-rounded education, and putting more public servants in unemployment lines.  Education programs have already suffered significant harmful cuts to both K-12 and higher education in recent years, and Congress already has enacted a full $1.5 trillion in cuts to discretionary programs. The bill would also slash critical services for those most in need, including preventing as many as 280,000 low-income children from receiving school meals. Cutting more while continuing to dole out tax breaks for the wealthiest households is the very definition of an unbalanced plan.  

This shortsighted policy will jeopardize our students’ and our nation’s future.  Funding targeted to quality public schools will see the greatest return on taxpayer money and will strengthen the entire economy. When we invest in public education, lower and middle incomes grow even more than upper incomes, positively impacting businesses’ bottom line as lower-income people spend their new income on consumer goods and services.   In a typical state, investing two percent more in public education generates 3,900 new jobs and $92 million in new personal income. An equal tax cut generates less than half those gains — 1,500 new jobs and $41 million in new personal income. (Richard Sims, NEA Research, previously Director, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2011).   

These two bills reflect the wrong priorities for our nation.  They ignore the needs of millions of struggling middle class families and those who have fallen out of the middle class.  They leave the majority of Americans to fend for themselves, while pandering to a small percentage of wealthy individuals.  They run completely counter to our values as a nation, by failing to take care of those most in need while sparing those at higher income levels.  They ask our children, working families, seniors, and disabled populations to make greater sacrifices than others. We urge you to reject these ill-conceived proposals.  

Sincerely,

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations