EL PASO, Texas - Citizens with an urgent message gathered Monday at local congressional offices across the nation to insist that Congress heed the will of the people, extending middle class tax cuts and making the rich pay their fair share. The fiscal showdown speakouts initiated by MoveOn stressed the need to prioritize the middle class.
In El Paso, 12 citizens met at the office of Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-Texas) to demand his strong opposition to any cuts to important entitlement programs. The membership of MoveOn reminded Reyes to keep his pledge to protect Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security now that the deadline for decision-making regarding federal spending priorities approaches, the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
The 12 MoveOn members, mobilized by the Internet, met at the Cortez Building, site of Reyes’ district office. Although the group met peaceably and was received amicably by staff assistant Desirae Manzanares, a squad car of El Paso police apparently was summoned to the building. Officers observed the exchange from the rear of the office.
Manzanares declared herself a member of MoveOn. Because she had received the organization’s email, she was prepared for the group’s arrival with a letter from Reyes, duplicated for each group member. The group had not prearranged an appointment with the office.
MoveOn members held signs enjoining Reyes to “Be Brave, Don’t Cave” on pressure from Republicans to trade public entitlement programs for tax breaks for the wealthiest. Rick Provencio, El Paso Council Coordinator, read a letter to Reyes on behalf of the group exhorting the congressman that “now is the time to stand firm for the sake of the people you represent and the other citizens of this country.”
Some members of the group related their personal situations to Manzanares, explaining how potential cuts would affect their families. Fred Rick stated that his family would soon find themselves in the top 2 percent income bracket. However, he stressed the importance of “looking after” those who needed support, the middle class and poor. Because of that priority, he said he would be proud to pay more taxes rather than see important programs cut.
Aurolyn Luykx, another group member, pointed out that the programs that may be affected, sometimes referred to derogatorily as “entitlement” programs, are aptly named: "'Entitlement' has become a dirty word, but they're called that because people are entitled to them, after having paid into the system for decades."
President Obama has called on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to immediately extend the tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year.
Letting the middle class tax cuts expire would be bad for the economy and would hurt families that are already struggling to make ends meet, asserts MoveOn.
MoveOn.org is an organization of as many as seven million individuals designed to give “real Americans a voice in a political process dominated by big money and armies of lobbyists.”
Original reporting by author.