News / USA

US Budget Woes Put Teachers, Emergency Responders on Chopping Block

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference urging the passage of the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act,  Oct. 19, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference urging the passage of the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, Oct. 19, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

A proposal to send federal assistance to cash-strapped local governments across America has been defeated in the U.S. Senate, 50 to 50, short of the 60 votes needed for passage. The measure would have provided $35 billion to keep teachers, police officers, and fire fighters on payrolls as cities and counties grapple with continued budget shortfalls. The spending would have been offset by a slight boost in taxes paid by millionaires.

They teach American kids, fight crime on America’s streets, and respond to tragedy and disaster.  Their numbers are decreasing nationwide, as counties and cities grapple with lower tax revenues.


A large contingent of teachers, police officers, and firefighters came to the Capitol this week with a message for lawmakers debating aid to local communities.

Among them: laid-off Florida high-school teacher Cherine Akbari, who risks losing her home, but is more worried about her pupils. “Students absolutely are the ones who suffer.  It is not just me, it is not just about my job.”

Connecticut police officer Jennifer Pierce says cuts in law enforcement will leave communities unprotected. “If we do not get the officers we need, obviously there will be less patrol presence on the street, crime rates are going to go up, as we have already seen.  Burglaries are up, street robberies are up,” Pierce said.

The rally had a surprise speaker. Vice President Joseph Biden said budget cuts - even temporary ones - bring lasting consequences. “There is nothing temporary about kindergarten being eliminated, because it has an effect on a child for the rest of their life.  There is nothing temporary about the life saved in a home invasion or a robbery because a squad car is able to get there in five minutes and not in 30.  There is nothing temporary about that for real, live people,” Biden said.

President Barack Obama’s $476 billion jobs plan was defeated on Capitol Hill last week.  Undeterred, Democratic lawmakers are forcing votes on the plan’s individual components, starting with federal assistance to cash-strapped communities.

But Republicans oppose using federal funds to prop up local governments.

“Bailouts do not solve the problem. In fact, they perpetuate it,” saidSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell argues President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus plan failed to improve America’s jobs picture in 2009, and spending even more now makes no sense.

“Again and again, the president has demanded that Congress do something that creates jobs.  And the only thing we seem to end up with at the end of the day is more debt, more government, and fewer jobs,” McConnell said.

Republicans are united in opposing tax hikes on the wealthy to fund federal jobs programs. “Job-killing tax increases are the wrong medicine for our struggling economy,” said Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Instead, Republicans urge deep spending cuts to improve the nation’s fiscal health, and economic deregulation to unchain America’s entrepreneurs.

Unions representing teachers and emergency responders are appealing to the American public through advertisements.

One advertisment said “The economic crisis is crippling public safety. Hey, Congress, we may be just kids, but right now we need help, too. Our school days are being cut.”

And President Obama is keeping up the pressure, as well. “We need to put people to work right now.  I think most Americans understand that,” he said.

A recent poll showed 76 percent of Americans favor federal efforts to save local government jobs.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid