By Hannah Poturalski
WEST CHESTER TWP. — About 15 people rallied Thursday outside Speaker John Boehner’s local office in West Chester Twp., urging Congress to continue negotiations for reducing the national deficit.
The need for further spending cuts has only been exasperated as the “fiscal cliff” approaches, said David Little, spokesman for ProgressOhio, a nonprofit advocacy group, who attended the rally.
Programs that provide for basic needs, such as health care and access to food, are being threatened as Congress continues to ignore the more than 50 percent of the federal budget focused on military and defense spending, Little said. He said there are rational ways to cut military spending without putting American defenses at risk.
“If we produce less veterans, then costs can be curtailed and we can bring that nation-building back to the U.S.,” Little said. “The enormity of the Pentagon budget is really the elephant in the house that Congress has refused to address. After two questionable credit card wars and unregulated contractor abuse we need to have a budget that works for all Americans, not just lobbyists and Pentagon suppliers.”
In a statement Dec. 5, Speaker Boehner said even though the Republican party has offered a “responsible proposal,” it’s up to President Barack Obama to devise his own credible plan if both sides of the House cannot come to agreement.
“The president talks about a balanced approach, but he’s rejected spending cuts that he has supported previously and refuses to identify serious spending cuts he is willing to make today,” Boehner said in the statement. “This is preventing us from reaching an agreement. With the American economy on the brink of the fiscal cliff, we don’t have time for the President to continue shifting the goal posts. We need to solve this problem.”
Any excess in the military budget that is not redirected to providing human needs is “failing the American people,” Little said. Others at the rally expressed concern about the potential impact the fiscal cliff will have on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
It would not be a “wise choice” to continue with certain cost-saving proposals — such as raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67, said Bentley Davis, senior field organizer for Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans.
“Raising the age is probably the most frightful thing; the older you are the more expensive private health care is,” Davis said.