Fiscal cliff anger
AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Bernie Berlow, left, of Palmerton, attended protest regarding pending fiscal cliff, and Patti Borger of Mahoning Township, was there as a Democratic party supporter, stand along Route 209 in Jim Thorpe on Friday morning, in front of the Carbon County Courthouse Annex, holding signs telling Congressman Lou Barletta to help the middle class by voting on tax breaks for working families.
A handful of Carbon County residents, including a county commissioner, stood outside the courthouse annex in Jim Thorpe protesting the upcoming fiscal cliff that this nation is facing.
During the rally, organized by the Carbon County Central Labor Council, Carbon County Democrats for Change and Keystone Progress, 15 taxpayers waved signs near Route 209, urging Republican Congressman Lou Barletta, who represents Carbon County, to go back to Washington and tell his fellow lawmakers to vote to help the middle class.
The theme of the rally was "Don't Drop The Ball on Middle Class Families."
Aquiles Damiron-Alcantara of Keystone Progress explained that the group was trying to make sure middle class families are not penalized for Republican party inaction.
His colleague, Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress added that people are really angry about the antics Congress is pulling with not coming to an agreement before the new year.
He called lawmakers "selfish" for putting the whole nation in jeopardy.
"On Tuesday, the average tax rate will go up by $2,200 for working families if Lou Barletta does nothing as he has been doing," Morrill said. "You know that for millions of people, they are going to lose other kinds of benefits on Tuesday if Lou Barletta does nothing. There are untold numbers, unemployment compensation will go away on Tuesday if Lou Barletta does nothing.
"All this is happening because Lou Barletta and not one member of Congress on the Republican side will sign a discharge petition," he continued, noting that a discharge petition, which has been signed by all Democratic legislators in Congress, allows Congress to vote on the bill just to see where it stands and who is in favor of it. "Not one Republican in the United States has signed that petition. How cowardly. I am outraged at the cowardice and laziness and utter political craziness of these politicians who are saying 'my party' over 'my country.' That is not the way this country is supposed to be. We have never been that way. We have never had the situation where the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader in the Senate refuse to even allow a bill to be voted on one that determines the future of this country, one that determines our economic destiny.
"That's outrageous and I'm tired of it. Lou Barletta, you don't deserve to be in Congress. Lou Barletta, get off your butt, get back to Washington and vote on this, up or down, one way or the other.
Area residents Terry Whiteman, Jerry Strubinger, Roy Christman, Marjorie Lux, and Charles Cales agree with Morrill's thoughts.
Whiteman, who is president of the Carbon County Central Labor Council said that the working class needs helps.
"We want to see Barletta help the working class," he said. "We want to see him stand up for us. We all need to work together."
"Don't hurt the middle class," Strubinger said, adding that he feels America is being held hostage by Congress. "If you can't get it done, then resign and go home."
Christman pointed out that Barletta is among the wealthiest that Republicans are trying to get tax cuts for.
Lux, who is a member of the Carbon County Democrats for Change, said that she has never seen it as bad as it is right now.
"For 30 years, the decisions by the business elite and government officials have conspired to make the rich richer and the poor poorer," she said. "Trickling down does not work."
"We're here because we want them to fix things like Social Security and Medicare correctly so it is here for future generations," Cales said. "Social Security is not paid by government. It was paid by us working for 48 years. It isn't an entitlement, it was earned. We worked for it."
Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek, who came out to support the group's initiative, said that Congress is not listening to the people who voted for them.
"How many times do you have to tell people that represent you what you think," O'Gurek asked. "Americans told the legislature, told the whole world, what they thought on election night. They thought the agenda of the president is the right one. It was a strong message. It was a message that 60 percent of voters told to those in Washington. They need to start listening. They need to start delivering what the people want."
O'Gurek added that voters also said via the election that they are in favor of taxing the people who are making over $250,000.
"The middle class America shouldn't have to carry the burden and unfortunately because the Republicans went home from the House of Representatives for Christmas, and apparently aren't coming back, the message needs to be to our legislators, like Lou Barletta, that they need to start listening," he continued.
O'Gurek applauded the group for their dedication to the country and to the middle class Americans because if no compromise is reached before Jan. 1, millions will be affected by higher taxes.
Following the rally, some members of the group traveled to Hazleton, to Barletta's office to hand him a ball, which they called the "Don't Drop The Ball" ball. The ball had signatures of people who couldn't make the rally, but felt the same way as the group.
Other rallies urging Republican lawmakers to get back to Congress were also taking place throughout the state today, including in Lehigh, Butler and Delaware counties. Other rallies are also scheduled in Kutztown and Reading this weekend and early next week.
In addition, an online petition has gathered over 100,000 signatures regarding the upcoming fiscal cliff.