April 14, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On President Obama’s Remarks on the Budget
WASHINGTON—The president has brought a welcome dose of reality to the debate on the budget. He has made clear that an honest approach to deficit reduction must include both cost savings and additional revenues. He put forth an important proposal that steers the debate away from an assault on the middle class and the poor, and toward shared responsibility for all Americans. His proposal makes critical investments to strengthen our nation, asks that corporations and upper-income Americans pay their fair share, and eases the burden of debt for future generations.
While we disagree with aspects of it, the president’s budget proposal is serious and responsible. In contrast, the Republican budget is cynical and shameful. It does virtually nothing to reduce the deficit—the $4.3 trillion in spending cuts is offset by $4.2 trillion in lost revenue, including a $1 trillion tax break for millionaires and billionaires. In short, the Republicans immunize the wealthy, and shift a huge burden onto the backs of middle-class families, working men and women, the elderly and the poor.
This budget process may appear to be about numbers, but it is really about people—the millions of Americans who are unemployed, who are struggling to keep their homes, and who want to build better lives for themselves and their families. They are willing to do their part. But they deserve more than pandering and hypocrisy. Yesterday, the president changed the tone and tenor of the debate. We can only hope others follow that path.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.