While millions of American families struggle to find work, feed their families, or save for retirement, Congressional leaders are once again showing they are out of touch with reality. With an approval rating of 9% — polygamy and the BP’s response to the Gulf oil spill rank higher according to recent polling — it’s difficult to imagine Congress performing any worse.
After the last budget showdown, which actually put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk, Congressional leaders should have learned their lesson. The Christian Science Monitor said that S&P’s downgrade should be a clear signal to Congress to “shape up.” The American people do not want political brinkmanship during a time of economic crisis. Working families are hurting and we are looking to Congress to provide some solutions.
Fast forward to the latest crisis. Millions of unemployed Americans and middle class families are facing a lump of coal in their stockings if Congress does not act soon to extend the payroll tax cut and UI benefits. I mean after all we are talking about tax cuts here so most Americans assumed this deal would get done. We were sort of right.
With a deal seemingly in place, Senators left for a holiday break — and boy do they need it after working so hard this year (sarcasm intended) — convinced they had won a compromise. In their minds, the House would approve the measure, thus rescuing middle class families from a $1,000 tax hike and protecting the unemployed. They were wrong. House Republicans, lead by Tea Partiers, did not want to go along with the compromise. Apparently tax cuts are only for wealthiest Americans, not everyone else.
Now we must sit back and watch Congress once again fumble around and potentially jeopardize our fragile economic recovery.
Members of Congress — what happened to doing what is right for the country?
The people’s camp on the National Mall was our home base for action. Despite a driving rain on two of the days — which turned the camp into a muddy mess — members of the 99% were in good spirits.
During out time in DC, we marched up to Capitol Hill, participated in an interfaith vigil, sat in Congressional offices, and rallied on K St. to show lobbyists we need to hold them accountable.
Each day had its own events and opportunities for people to speak their minds to members of the 1%. On Tuesday, we flooded numerous offices on Capitol Hill. Congressional leaders were surprised to see so many people demanding action on job creation and unemployment benefits. Activists expressed their frustration at a government that caters to special interests. People need a break, not corporations.
On Wednesday, activists marched from the camp up 14th street to K street — the seat of lobbying power in Washington, DC. Snaking its way through the streets, marchers stopped at Wells Fargo and Verizon locations to voice displeasure at their policies. Activists then blocked K St and arrests were made. The national media covered the march in story after story, as the 99% made a bold statement — we will not rest until we loosen the dominance of special interests on our government.
On Thursday, activists marched to Capitol Hill to visit Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House. He would not meet with us on this day. After being asked to leave Longworth House Office Building by the Capitol Police, we moved outside to chant and hear stories in an attempt to get his attention. Staffers peered out windows to see what was going on.
After an exciting week of action, people from all over the country are heading back to their states to spread the word that the fight is not over, we need to keep the pressure up. We need to create more jobs and protect the middle class. This will not be achieved by cutting benefits and increasing tax cuts for the rich. It’s time for the 99% to get a break.
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