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Activists Urge Sen. Kerry To Stand Firm Against Benefit Cuts

Progressive activists are staging demonstrations and taking other actions across the country Monday to urge no cuts to social safety net programs be part of any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.  In western Massachusetts they took the message to a district office of the state’s senior US Senator John Kerry.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

In demanding no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Jenny Daniell, an organizer with MoveOn, said they wanted to remind Senator Kerry that Main Street, not Wall Street,  won the last election.

About 2 dozen people met with an advisor to Senator Kerry in the lobby of the Springfield building where the Senator has a district office.  Several people spoke about how threatened cuts would impact their family’s healthcare, or retirement.  MoveOn delivered a petition with 45 hundred signatures calling on the Senator to oppose a fix to the country’s financial woes that would burden the poor and  middle class.

His aide said Kerry favors a balanced approach on spending  and taxes to reduce the federal deficit.   The  activists said they wanted to make sure Kerry knows he’ll be held accountable for his positions during the fiscal showdown.  

Other organizations represented at the meeting included  Jobs with Justice, American Friends Service Committee, Arise for Social Justice, The Pioneer Valley Labor Council, and Occupy Franklin County.

The Massachusetts Senior Action Council organized a rally in Boston. There is a candle light vigil in Northampton by the Fund Our Communities Not War Coalition.  The group’s Marty Nathan explains they want the President and Congress to come to a resolution based on the Budget For All ballot question. It was on the ballot election day in roughly a third of Massachusetts cities and towns, and passed by a 3 to one margin.

A new report from the consumer group MassPIRG said off shore tax havens are being used by large corporations  and wealthy individuals to avoid paying $150 billion in taxes annually. MassPIRG legislative director Dierdre Cummings said it is enough to  cover the automatic spending cuts that would trigger with the fiscal cliff, and get at 37.5% of the debt reduction goal.

The MassPIRG report said 83 of the top 100 US corporations use offshore tax havens.

There are bills in both the US House and Senate to curtail the use of overseas tax shelters. Cummings said neither of the two US Senators from Massachusetts have endorsed it.

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