Thursday, May 10, 2012

Activists voice opposition to GOP budget plan in Pinellas

Posted By on Thu, May 10, 2012 at 4:37 PM

  • Congressman C.W. Bill Young
Activists and concerned citizens showed up at Congressman Bill Young’s local district office in Seminole Thursday morning to express their opposition to the Republican House’s divisive The Path to Prosperity budget proposal.

The House passed that budget plan later in the day, 218 to 199, with 16 Republicans opposing and no Democrats supporting it.

As the Huffington Post reported on Thursday, the plan advocates cutting retirement benefits by $83 billion, Medicaid programs by $48 billion and food aid by $36 billion. Unlike the last year’s version of the plan for 2012, this year’s version spared cuts to the defense budget.

The group of about 20 people included members of Occupy St. Petersburg, and the grassroots organizations FCAN (Florida Consumers Action Network) and Awake Pinellas. They gathered in a small conference room at the Congressman’s office in Seminole with Young's district representative Shirley Miaoulis.

Miaoulis reassured the group that though the Congressman might not vote the way that they want him to, he is willing to hear everyone’s opinion. Miaoulis said that Young refers to the office as not just ‘his’ but ‘ours’.

The group handed over a signed letter outlining their concerns regarding the Ryan budget plan and exchanged information with Miaoulis in hopes of procuring a future meeting with Congressman Young, when he returns back to the district.

Peggy Goodale, a retired state worker with the Department of Children and Family, said she had seen first hand the results of cutting social services, particularly the effect of insufficient staffing at nursing homes. "The elderly are suffering, staffing is a problem,” Goodale said. She believes that the answer is not in budget cuts and tax reductions, but tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans.

After the group left, Miaoulis said that the congressman’s office has an ‘open-door’ policy for constituents to air grievances, and that she was glad to speak to with them.

The Ryan budget is considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. St. Petersburg Occupy member Soledad Santiago is on Medicare. She said that even if the passage of the budget plan is largely symbolic, she finds it extremely offensive.

“The more economic inequality you have in a society, the less likely you are to have a democracy,” said Santiago.

According to USA Today, The budget also calls for a restructuring of Medicare that would allow those under 55 the option of purchasing private insurance using subsidized vouchers. Also included in the plan would be a two-tier tax bracket — at 10 and 25 percent — and a corporate tax cut to 25 percent.

Gayle Faath, communications director for Florida Consumer Action Network, felt the meeting was a good start to getting those feeling marginalized and powerless to speak up.

“There are a lot of people who are scrapping to get by now… but they don’t feel they can make a difference,” said Faath. “If they can see others, they can know that their voice can be heard.”

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