By Amanda Litvinov
Leaders of unions and progressive organizations met with President Obama at the White House today to advocate for students and working families as lawmakers get to work on a budget that lowers the deficit and avoids the fiscal cliff.
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“Washington needs to stand up for America’s 50 million school children and middle class families,” said NEA President and educator Dennis Van Roekel shortly after the meeting.
“It’s why I joined President Obama and a growing chorus of voices calling on Congress to work out a good deal for hard working families, extend the middle class tax cuts and ask the rich and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.”
Thousands of local, state, and national organizations joined together this year to urge Obama to reject any budget deal that would further cut the portion of the federal budget that includes public education, which accounts for less than 20 percent of all federal spending and bore the brunt of cuts administered in 2011.
President Obama has been vocal in pushing for a balanced approach that restores tax fairness by preserving tax cuts for the middle class and asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.
In a statement last week, Obama said that his re-election confirms that the majority of Americans agree that the best way to reduce the deficit is with a balanced approach.
“I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes,” said the President. “ I’m not going to do that.”
Obama also urged the U.S. House of Representatives to take immediate action to extend tax breaks for the middle class, to ease economic insecurity for families still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.
A recent report issued by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich—those with income above $250,000—will not boost the economy. Extending all of the other tax cuts, those that help the middle class that are due to expire in January, would bolster the economy by 1.25 percent, according to the study.
NEA also strongly advocates for avoiding cuts to key social programs such as Medicaid, which helps students come to school healthy and ready to learn.
“If some in Congress get their way and shift to the states the cost of providing Medicaid service to millions of low-income children, seniors and persons with disabilities, it will mark one of the most significant retreats from the historic federal role to ensure that basic human needs are met,” Van Roekel said.
“At a time when one of every five children lives in poverty and one-third of all children receive their primary source of healthcare from Medicaid, it would be a grievous abdication of our responsibility to America’s neediest children to exacerbate their challenges with devastating cuts.”
Keep up with all the latest news on the budget battle on our new Kids Not Cuts page!