WESTFIELD – Heeding President Barack Obama’s Monday night call for the public to speak out about the federal debt-limit stalemate, approximately 30 people turned out for a demonstration at Rep. Leonard Lance’s office in Westfield yesterday afternoon.
“Many people at the demonstration are convinced Lance cares more about placating the Tea Party in their agenda of making President Obama a one-term president than he is in doing what is best for the well-being of his own constituents and the economic health of the nation,” said Meara Nigro, who helped organize the local effort.
Lance supports cuts in government spending – including reductions popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare – but he has not indicated a willingness to consider any tax increases.
“Rep. Lance is very fond of telling his constituents at town hall meetings that the wealthy people he is protecting are the ‘job creators,’ and if we increase their taxes, they won’t be able to hire more workers. These wealthy people have been enjoying a huge windfall in tax relief since 2002, but there are very few jobs to show for it. Instead, jobs are still being shipped overseas where labor is cheap and environmental laws are non-existent. At the same time, corporate CEOs have seen a 400% increase in their compensation in the past decade, while middle class salaries have stagnated. To my mind, the Republican ‘job creators’ can be compared to unicorns,” Nigro added.
Similar demonstrations took place at the offices of other members of Congress yesterday.
Heavy traffic shut down the websites of Lance and other New Jersey Congressional Republicans yesterday as constituents tried to express their opinions to their representatives. Most members of Congress do not publish their email addresses, instead relying on website forms to receive electronic correspondence from their constituents. Telephone lines were also busy.
“Rep. Lance has revealed his true colors – he is no longer the moderate he promised to be, or that he once was, instead choosing to side with Tea Party extremists to end Medicare as we know it and to expand offshore drilling,” said Ed Potosnak, the Democrat who challenged the GOP Congressman last year.
Obama favors a plan that would lower deficits through spending cuts and new tax revenues, but recently voiced support for a plan by Senate Democrats to reduce deficits by $2.7 trillion over ten years with only spending cuts. It would enable Congress to raise the nation’s borrowing limit enough to get through next year’s elections.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, has offered a plan of spending cuts that would provide a short-term six month fix, but would require the issue to be debated again next year. However, it may not be enough to assuage credit ratings agencies or nervous investors about the stability of the American economy. If the United States loses its triple-A credit rating, it will have to pay higher interest rates to borrow money.
Republicans allied with the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement are seeking deeper cuts in social safety net programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, and refuse to consider any tax increases.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a majority of Americans support a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts to restore the United States’ financial footing.
If Congress does not reach a compromise before Aug. 2, the Treasury will be faced with more than $370 billion in payments immediately due and only about $170 billion on hand. Any U.S. government default on financial obligations will send ripples throughout the entire global economy.
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