Protesters hold fiscal cliff 'day of action'

December 10, 2012 7:36:51 PM PST
With just 22 days left for Washington to reach a budget deal to avoid a fiscal cliff, progressives held a day of action Monday to oppose cuts to social programs.

Hundreds of rallies organized by the progressive organization MoveOn.org were held nationwide. In the Bay Area, rallies were held in San Francisco, Oakland and Palo Alto.

The message from the activists: Cut the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and do not cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

"We absolutely have to stick firm and make sure that we tax the rich. People making over $200,000 a year should be able to pay more and get us out of this economic mess that Wall Street has dug," said Tim Paulson from the San Francisco Labor Council.

About 50 people gathered outside the Social Security Administration Office in Oakland's Eastmont Town Center on Monday. Among them was Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

"I'm going back to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to continue to fight the good fight. You have a resistance movement in the Congress, I want you to know, a resistance movement," she told the crowd.

Lee says she'll resist cuts to entitlement programs, but Medicare and Social Security amount to 40 percent of what the government spends.

"We have to raise the revenue from areas where we know that there is waste, fraud and abuse where we can consolidate and where we can really have some significant savings," she said.

Lee promised to cut waste, fraud and abuse, but could not name a single program where she would make the cuts other than military spending.

In Palo Alto, MoveOn.org members vowed to call Speaker of the House John Boehner to tell him to make no cuts to services.

Activists at the rally said they don't think Obama's balanced approach would mean absolutely no cuts to government spending. "No I don't think that, but I think he is saying he won't cut services," said Cilla Raughley, a regional organizer for MoveOn.org.

Rich Johnson went to the rally in Oakland. At 68, he's retired and would like to stay that way. "I've worked for 50 years and people that have worked for 25, 30 or 50 years and put part of their income into Social Security under the 'social contract,' they should get the benefit of it. It's not right to cut it back," he said.

Absent from Monday's rallies was any sort of counter demonstration from conservatives. Tea Party members have been largely silent in the back and forth over the fiscal cliff. Several Bay Area organizers said would just as soon not go public and that they are reorganizing after what they called a very disappointing election.


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