Protestors Demand Taxes on Wealthy to Fund Social Spending at Twin Protests Outside Offices of Sens. Brown Kerry
BOSTON/Government Center - Over 50 members of the Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants and several allied organizations held twin demonstrations outside the offices of Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown on Tuesday - urging them to "tax the 1 percent and cut the Pentagon as the only way to create jobs and reduce the deficit without cutting vital programs for the poor and middle class."
The protest began outside Kerry's Bowdoin Square office then proceeded to Brown's Government Center office a short distance away. In each case, a giant "Valentine" outlining the organizers' positions was displayed and a representative of the relevant senator was invited to accept it. Kerry's staff declined to appear at the Bowdoin Square rally, but a representative from Brown's staff did come out and briefly address the demonstrators at the Government Center rally.
Michael Kane, executive director of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants explained, "We did this to keep the heat on both senators to increase taxes on the one percent and cut the military to avoid deep cuts to social programs. While Kerry says he supports new taxes on the rich, he can do a lot more to make this happen, and to reduce military spending and oppose social program cuts. Brown continues to oppose any taxes on the rich, which will inevitably lead to cuts to programs he says he cares about, like housing and fuel assistance. We got our message across on Valentine's Day, and we’ll be back until they both do what is needed to protect the poor and middle class.”
There was a very light police presence, no incidents and no arrests at either rally. The event concluded peacefully. Organizers hand delivered a letter stating their full position to Kerry's office later in the day.
Other participating organizations included: Massachusetts Peace Action, AFGE Local 3258 (HUD Employees Union), Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, American Friends Service Committee, Section 8 Tenants Association (Boston), ARISE for Social Justice (Springfield), Chinatown Residents Association, Coalition Against Poverty/Coalition for Social Justice (SE Mass), Mary Ellen McCormick Tenant Task Force, Dorchester People for Peace, City Life/Vida Urbana, Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Dominican Development Center, Progressive Democrats of America, Boston Tenant Coalition, MoveOn/South Shore Council, Fenway CDC, and Arlington 25% Solution.
This article is a news brief.
Full Text of the MAHT Letter to Sen. John Kerry
Honorable John Kerry February 14, 2012
United States Senate
One Bowdoin Square, 10th Floor
Boston, MA. 02114 BY HAND
Dear Senator Kerry:
On November 15, 2011, a coalition of community, labor, peace and housing advocacy organizations delivered to your Boston office more than 4,500 letters signed by Massachusetts voters, including several thousand from Boston voters on Election Day. The letters urged you and Senator Scott Brown, as Congress considered approaches to reducing the federal deficit, to do so entirely by raising new revenue from wealthy individuals and corporations and by cutting unneeded military spending in order to avoid any further cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other vital programs affecting the poor and middle class, as well as to invest in jobs.
We also engaged in a productive discussion with members of your Boston staff, during which we outlined eight new revenue options which could generate as much as $3 trillion over the next decade toward deficit reduction and discussed specific military program cuts. We were also assured that your office would reply individually to the 4,500 voters who submitted letters explaining your position on these issues. We thank you for your reply dated February 9 and your commitment to reply to all who wrote in November.
In your February 9 letter, we very much appreciate your support for new revenue by taxing the wealthiest Americans. We also applaud your recognition that a bad, unbalanced budget and deficit agreement is even worse than no agreement.
We have been concerned by reports that Democrats on the Supercommittee were prepared to not only agree to $1 trillion in domestic non-military program cuts and—in principle--an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, in exchange for a mere $250 billion in net new revenue from unspecified reductions in tax “loopholes,” according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
As noted by CBPP’s Paul Van de Water, cuts of this magnitude, without a clear bright line ensuring that proposed $200 billion in military budget cuts would be implemented, would have meant $400 billion or more in cuts to non-exempt domestic programs comparable to the automatic sequestrations mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA), while slashing Social Security, Medicare and other vital programs by $800 billion as well. While the domestic program sequestrations scheduled for January 2013 are draconian and unacceptable, the reported Supercommittee “deal” that was narrowly averted would have been, in our judgment, even worse for tens of millions of low income and middle class Americans. In this case, no deal was certainly better than a bad deal.
Your February 9 letter rightly excoriates entrenched Republican opposition to new revenue as the principle reason agreement cannot be reached on Capitol Hill. In January 2013, Congress will simultaneously confront the sequestrations mandated by the BCA, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and a renewed debt ceiling. Since the new Congress will likely decide these issues, including whether to amend or replace the BCA to avoid domestic program cuts, it is critical to prepare the ground for the historic debates that will occur after the November 2012 election, and to educate the public to ensure that a receptive Congress is elected. In the interim, since deficit reduction to date has been achieved entirely by $2.2 trillion in program cuts with no new revenues whatsoever, any new proposals which rely on further cuts to social programs are inherently “unbalanced” and should be firmly opposed.
Since the passage of the BCA, the Occupy movement has dramatically changed public awareness of the underlying issues. Your leadership is needed over the next year to educate the public and Congressional colleagues on the critical need to tax the 1%, close corporate tax loopholes and reduce military spending as the only way to avoid deep cuts to vital social programs and to invest in jobs to sustain the economy.
Your February 9 letter does not address the specific new revenue proposals, such as a financial transaction tax or surtax on the very wealthy, or the need to cut bloated military spending, which we presented to your office in November, nor does it draw a firm line against further cuts to domestic programs. Accordingly, we request a meeting with you and a delegation of the groups that organized last fall’s letter campaign to discuss these issues and how we can collaborate for a progressive outcome in the months ahead.
We will be in contact with your office to arrange this meeting.
Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants
Massachusetts Peace Action
Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
American Friends Service Committee
Section 8 Tenants Association (Boston)
Chinatown Residents Association
Dorchester People for Peace
ARISE for Social Justice (Springfield)
Eastern Massachusetts 25% Coalition
Coalition for Social Justice/Coalition Against Poverty
Chinese Progressive Association
Fenway Community Development Corporation
Mary Ellen McCormack Tenant Task Force
Progressive Democrats of America
Arlington 25% Coalition
MoveOn.Org South Shore Council