Seniors, workers who rely on overwhelmingly effective social programs tell Congress to fight for jobs and the middle class, not for the greed of the wealthiest 1%
Washington, D.C. - Frustrated constituents from across the country spent this morning urging lawmakers to "wake up" and protect Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security from cuts being discussed in the waning days of the Super Committee negotiations.
Seniors, people with disabilities and workers started the day early by waking up Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a member of the Senate minority leadership, in "alarming" fashion at Bistro Bis, a local restaurant. Carrying gold alarm clocks and signs, angry protesters shut down a breakfast fundraiser for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senator Kyl, the keynote speaker, hurried out as protesters entered the restaurant and chanted, "It's a new morning, it's a new day; Wake up Congress and make the 1% pay." Protesters followed Sen. Kyl to his vehicle and demanded to know if the Senator plans to protect the 99% of people who depend on these critical services or the richest 1% of Americans who don't want to pay their fair share of taxes.
To see video of 99% activists shutting down the fancy fundraiser for Sen. Hatch hosted by big health care corporations, click here.
Ferrol Wegner, 84, a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, traveled to Washington all the way from Des Moines to find out why Sen. Kyl is so alert when he's listening to the wealthiest 1% of Americans but his attention drifts away when the subject is the concerns of average people. "We want him to listen to the 99%, not just the 1% who can afford to come to these fundraisers," Wegner said. "We expect members of the Super Committee to act in the best interests of the majority-people like me who depend on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security every day-instead of the richest 1% who only care about protecting their wealth."
Protesters then joined a larger crowd outside the restaurant and marched to the Dirksen Senate Office Building for a rally with Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The senators, joined by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), urged their colleagues on the 12-member Super Committee to reject cutbacks to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Seniors, faith leaders and people with disabilities from Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois and other states recounted personal stories about the devastation they would suffer if the bipartisan Super Committee slashes Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
The 12-member Super Committee is considering cutbacks for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as it approaches a Nov. 23 deadline for a deficit reduction plan. Cuts in those programs would irreparably harm seniors, workers, people with disabilities and America's middle-class and low-income families. At the same time it is contemplating various cuts, the Super Committee members continue to dismiss demands from the public that the deal accomplish its deficit-reduction goal by raising taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals instead of just cutting benefits from people who receive benefits from Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
Dr. Jessica Eng, a physician from Boston Medical Center, the largest safety-net health care provider in New England, described how the proposed cuts would harm her patients and the health of millions of others across Massachusetts and the nation. Dr. Eng echoed the message that no Super Committee deal is better than a deal that cuts Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
Following the Senate rally, participants fanned out to visit the offices of Super Committee members and deliver the alarm clocks that should wake them up to reject any budget plan that cuts Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security for the 99% while protecting the richest 1%.
"Some Super Committee members are drawing a line in the sand, with the 1% on one side of it and the rest of America on the other," said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now. "Lawmakers should stay strong for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and demand that the super-rich and big corporations pay their fair share in taxes. No deal is better than a bad deal."
CO-SPONSORS: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Alliance for a Just Society, Alliance For Retired Americans, Campaign for America's Future, Campaign for Community Change, Caring Across Generations, Health Care for America Now, International Longshore And Warehouse Union, National Committee To Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Nurses United, National People's Action, PICO Network, SEIU, Social Security Works and Strengthen Social Security Campaign.
Health Care for America Now is the nation's leading grassroots health care advocacy organization. HCAN led the fight over the past two years to win passage of health reform and to keep Congress from being steamrolled by corporate special interests.