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As we stand here today, families across my state and our country are struggling. And the problem is that the President – and his allies in Congress – aren’t listening.



Today, the President signs a massive tax cut bill at the same time that we:

  • Are paying for a war in Iraq off budget;


  • Have mounting deficits;


  • Face skyrocketing costs at the gas pump;


  • Need to rebuild the Gulf Coast,


  • And have a new hurricane season about to begin.


Signing a tax bill that benefits those that have the most – is simply the wrong priority. If we want to make America strong again, we need to invest here at home.



Today, middle class families throughout Washington state and the country are struggling to pay for the rising costs of college, gas and health care. Instead of helping these hardworking families, this tax plan leaves the middle class behind.

We need a tax system that is fiscally responsible, helps business grow and provides maximum relief to the middle class. The legislation the President signs today does none of that. Instead, it takes out a loan against our children’s future and makes it harder for them to achieve the dream of a college degree.



Nowhere are the Republican Administration’s wrong priorities reflected more than in how we treat those coming behind us and those we are counting on to build our nation’s future – our students. From Bill Gates to Lou Dobbs we have been told that if we want to compete in a global economy we need to have an educated workforce. But I am sad to say that this commitment to the future of our country is under attack here in Washington, D.C.



The federal commitment to helping students and families pay for college reflects the best of America. That commitment means that:

  • no matter where you start in life,


  • or who your parents are


  • or what your financial situation, that you can get the education and skills you need to reach your full potential.


Unfortunately, the American dream of a college education is taking a back seat to politics and tax cuts for those that need them least. Not only is this the wrong priority for our country today, but it will cost our nation dearly in the long-term.



This tax package has the wrong priorities. It takes away the ability of families to deduct tuition costs – which is - in effect – a tuition hike for hundreds of thousands of students across our country.

And when you look at the bigger picture, a more disturbing pattern is clear. Last February, Congress cut $12.7 billion from student aid programs in the name of deficit reduction as part of the budget resolution.



Now, the bill that the President will sign into law - today - increases the deficit by $30 billion – and passes the cost on to our grandchildren. On top of that, the maximum Pell grant has been frozen at $4,000 for the past three years and the President chose not to request an increase in his FY ‘07 budget. And – now - today this administration has taken away the ability of families to deduct tuition costs from their taxable income.



I personally understand the value of a college education and of having a country at your back.



We should be helping to break down the barriers to a college education, not building them up.



Over the past several weeks, President Bush has traveled around the country giving commencement addresses. At these commencement ceremonies the President honors parents who have sacrificed to put their children through college.



He speaks about how education opens doors. And he highlights the fact that in order to compete globally our students need to have access to higher education and the skills to succeed in an ever-expanding marketplace. Well, the President is right. But his actions today don’t match his rhetoric.



Today he signs a tax package that does not honor the value of higher education. Instead, this massive bill will make it harder for middle class families to pay for college by taking away a provision with an immediate and measurable impact on their financial bottom line.



The elimination of the tuition provision amounts to a tax increase on our working families. We can do better. If Congress can’t change these wrong priorities, then it’s time to change Congress.