"There is not equal blame to go around. While Democrats tried to find common ground for the common good, Republicans insisted on protecting the 1 percent from any additional taxes."
WASHINGTON—Of course we're disappointed about the apparent failure to reach a deficit deal, but let's be clear about what really happened here. There is not equal blame to go around. While Democrats tried to find common ground for the common good, Republicans insisted on protecting the 1 percent from any additional taxes. American Federation of Teachers members know what it means to negotiate in good faith, and it is clear that Republicans refused to compromise. The cuts the Republicans were demanding, without additional revenue, would have exacerbated the current economic crisis and taken a terrible human toll on already struggling Americans, especially women and children.
The absence of a deficit deal will lead to drastic across-the-board cuts to vital programs that help our students. The Congressional Budget Office projects that education will suffer a 7.8 percent cut, forcing massive reductions to education programs for our most disadvantaged students and those with disabilities. This would compound deep education cuts that have already resulted in larger class sizes, fewer resources for early childhood education, and the elimination of libraries and important enrichment courses like art, music, foreign languages and physical education. The layoff of nearly 300,000 educators is a testament to these cuts in services.
Congress should single-mindedly focus on creating good jobs and economic growth. In trying to thwart President Obama's leadership, the Republicans rejected sensible ideas for stimulating the economy, such as the American Jobs Act, which was fully paid for and would have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. They are playing a very dangerous political game with serious economic consequences. America's 99 percent need our political leaders to lead—not play politics with people's lives and the fiscal health of our nation.
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/#!/rweingarten.