President Barack Obama sent his annual budget plan to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The proposal would cut Medicare and other health programs by $400 billion, and lead to benefit cuts to Social Security by converting the current cost-of-living payments to a new inflation formula known as chained C.P.I.
“Right now the focus should be on protecting and increasing benefits for our seniors, not pulling the rug out from under them as seniors and families are working so hard to make ends meet,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives, contributed to the program, and relied on the promise that they and their family will be able to collect benefits that accurately reflect the cost of living when they retire.”
“Any budget proposal must be balanced and fair by demanding more of the wealthiest and corporations while staying true to our nation’s commitment to seniors and those most in need,” said Van Roekel.
On education, President Obama’s budget proposal includes a new $75 billion investment to fund pre-school for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. Research shows that investing in early education pays long-term dividends to families and communities.
“NEA members commend President Obama for his commitment to bring quality early childhood education to all children,” Van Roekel continued. “There are far too many kids without access to a full range of crucial programs like Head Start, pre–K, and full-day kindergarten that lead to long-term student success.”
The budget plan includes billions in mandatory funding for education jobs and would also retroactively replace the devastating across-the-board cuts triggered last month and the remaining years of the sequester, though some cuts to non-defense discretionary are still on the table.
NEA is pleased that the President’s budget again makes education a major priority, but yet again much of this funding relies on competitive grants that states have to apply for. “This is disappointing,” said Van Roekel, “because competitive grants leave too many students behind.”
NEA continues to advocate for more funding investments in major programs such as, Title I and IDEA that are so important to addressing inequities nationwide.