But Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee said his state of Washington would get funds to keep 3,000 teachers. Republicans, he said, “think those billions of dollars for those corporate loopholes is simply more important than almost 3,000 teachers and classrooms in the state of Washington.”
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said Republicans ignore the fact that the law would not add to the federal deficit. “They want to do everything in their power to make certain that President Obama can’t get this country going again. I think in November they are going to find it was a dumb policy.”
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee rejected GOP arguments that the Democrats’ primary purpose with the legislation was to reward their friends in organized labor. “We’re in tough shape out there with these incredible holes in these state budgets. To the American people, it’s tremendously important and will give a little lift to the economy,” he said of the legislation.
The means of paying for the bill, a result of difficult negotiations in the Senate, were contentious.
Republicans objected to raising some $10 billion by raising taxes on some U.S.-based multinational companies. Advocates for the poor protested a provision to accelerate the phasing out of an increase in food stamp payments implemented in last year’s economic recovery bill. Under the measure, payments would return to pre-stimulus rates in 2014, saving almost $12 billion.
James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, said that would be cutting benefits for some 40 million people now receiving food stamps. “Those families will be hungrier and less able to buy healthy diets,” he said.
Weill’s group estimated that a family of four that might now receive about $464 a month in food stamps stood to lose about $59. Democrats gave assurances that they would look for other ways to pay for the law before the payment cuts go into effect in four years.
“The cutbacks in food stamps in the bill are plain wrong,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis.
An earlier attempt at saving teachers’ jobs was included in a war spending bill passed by the House last month, but the Senate rejected the measure. That bill included $10 billion for education jobs and $5 billion to make up a shortfall in federal Pell Grants for low-income college students, but the $15 billion for education was dropped from the measure after Obama threatened to veto it.
The president objected to some of the cuts in other education programs the bill proposed to help pay for the increases, including $100 million in charter school funding, $200 million in Teacher Incentive Fund money, and $500 million from his signature Race to the Top initiative.
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