Federal Legislative Updates
News from Capitol Hill. . .
December 14, 2012
KEEP UP THE PRESSURE: TELL CONGRESS WE WANT A FAIR DEAL FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS
Negotiations continue between President Obama and congressional leaders on how to avoid the fiscal cliff, but no deal has been announced. This week, the President and House Speaker Boehner exchanged new offers, but little progress has been made. The latest reports indicate that Congress could come back into session the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to work on a deal. NEA will be monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates and calls to action when agreement details are available.
In the meantime, millions of middle class families wait to hear if their taxes will go up in a few weeks. If Congress does not act, the average middle class family of four will see a tax increase of over $2,000. But, your voices are being heard! In the past two weeks, NEA activists sent over 23,000 e-mail messages to Congresscalling for an extension of the middle class tax cuts and a deal that ensures the wealthiest pay their fair share. We can’t stop now – keep up the drumbeat and tell your Members of Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts.
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. Learn more.
Congress must also protect Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security benefits. Medicaid serves the health care needs of some 60 million low-income Americans, including one-third of our nation’s children. This week, the Obama administration publicly reversed its supportfor a policy that would cut billions in Medicaid funding, signaling that, for the White House, Medicaid is largely off the table in deficit reduction negotiations. But, pressure to cut benefits remains and we need to ensure our voices are heard. In addition, at a December 11 press event a number of Democratic Senators and Representatives joined representatives from NEA, SEIU, AFSCME, and health care groups in opposing any cuts to the benefits provided by these critical programs.
Take Action Today:
- E-mail Congress and tell them to act immediately to extend tax cuts for the middle class. If your Representative has not signed the discharge petition to move middle class tax cuts to the House floor for a vote, urge him or her to do so immediately.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watch the latest ads produced by NEA, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) urging Congress to protect Medicaid, Medicare, and education.
- Take our new Kids Not Cuts quiz. See how much you know about the impact the fiscal cliff could have on public education.
- Find the latest news on the current debates on our “Kids Not Cuts” page on the Education Votes website.
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MICHIGAN POLICYMAKERS ATTACK WORKERS AND FAMILIES
This week, Michigan’s Governor and legislature attacked working families with passage of a so-called “Right to Work” law that forces hardworking Michiganders and their families down a path to fewer jobs, lower wages, crumbling communities, and a weaker economy. The bill, which was pushed by leaders in the GOP-controlled state legislature and corporate CEOs, was enacted without a single hearing or public debate, while tens of thousands of Michiganders protested outside in opposition.
The bill is designed to give corporate CEOs such as David and Charles Koch — two of the bills primary backers — even more power to maximize profits at the expense of those who teach our children, protect our streets, keep us healthy, and build our roads and vehicles. Studies show right to work laws drive down wages for all workers — union and non-union — by an average of $1,500 per year. These reduced wages can lead to reduced spending on local businesses and fewer jobs, which can harm middle-class families and the communities where they reside. In contrast, strong unions can bolster the economy with good jobs and grow the middle class. Learn more about the Michigan law and read NEA’s response.
CHEERS AND JEERS
|President Obama, who spoke out forcefully against the Michigan anti-worker law, saying “These so-called ‘right to work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics. What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.”|
|Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who this week spoke out in favor of extending tax cuts for the middle class, saying “I do think that Rep. Tom Cole’s idea of taking off the table the 98 percent of Americans that everybody agrees on both sides should have continued tax relief also makes a great deal of sense.”|
|Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who made comments that raising the tax rate on some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals should be a part of the solution to the national debt problem saying, “I have been suggesting for a period of time now that I think it is worth a discussion, consideration, to look at the highest earners.’|
|Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Henry Waxman (D-CA), who spoke at a press event this week opposing any cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.|
|Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who circulated a “dear colleague” sign-on letter urging congressional leaders negotiating a fiscal cliff deal to avoid cuts to the safety net programs and vital services that benefit our children saying, “Low-income families have already shouldered a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic pain in recent years and it is imperative that we prevent any additional cuts to the programs that seek to assist these populations, including Head Start, Medicaid, child care, child abuse prevention programs, and a wide range of health, education, and child safety programs.”|
|Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD), who circulated a “dear colleague” sign-on letter urging congressional leaders negotiating a fiscal cliff deal to reject a Social Security proposal known as “chained CPI” that would reduce the purchasing power of Social Security benefits and put millions of seniors at risk.|
|Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who signed an anti-worker, anti-family “Right to Work” bill into law, after previously stating such legislation was not on his agenda and he would not pursue it.|
|House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who continue to demand cuts in “entitlement” programs like Medicaid and Medicare as part of any fiscal cliff deal.|