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Community Organizations Praise Congressional Delegation On Debt Talks

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today, thirty-four Rhode Island community organizations and over two hundred individuals sent an open letter to the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation, thanking them for their strong stand on protecting important social programs during the current debt limit negotiations.

“Our delegation members have been among the loudest voices for fairness in this debate,” said Kate Brock, Executive Director of Ocean State Action. “The letter we sent today is our way of telling them that the people of Rhodes Island support them and to urge them to hold the line. We are counting on them to keep fighting to make sure that the final deal, whether its comes tomorrow or next year or the year after that, protects the well-being of those who rely on these programs and ask the most fortunate among us to contribute their fair share to solving our nation’s long term debt problems.”

Letter Thanks Delegation

The letter thanks the delegation for their hard work on behalf of Rhode Islanders:

We write to say thank you. On behalf of the people of Rhode Island, our working families and struggling unemployed, our cities and small towns, our schools, our health centers and our senior centers, we say “Thank you.” Thank you for understanding that harming the well-being of children, seniors, the poor and the disabled is not a solution of any kind. Thank you for taking action – through letters to the President, votes on the floor, interviews in the media, and messages to your constituents – on behalf of those for whom government programs provide support and hope during these hard times. Thank you for being the truly progressive leader that Rhode Island and America need today.

Principles For Debt Limit Deal

The letter then goes on to spell out a set of principles that should inform a fair debt limit deal, and asks the members of the delegation to communicate these principles to the President on behalf of the people of Rhode Island.

Aaron Regunberg, of Rhode Islanders Advocating for Fair Taxes, said, “As a student in college who works with students in high school, I can say that our generation is scared. We grew up in a country that had a promise for us--that if you work hard, you can grow old with dignity. We need to know that Social Security will be there for us when we retire. We need to know that we'll still be able to rely on Medicare when the time comes. And we need to know, right in the here and now, that Medicaid won't be slashed for those who need it. Rhode Island's students will not let the Tea Party dictate away our futures.”

“Any delays in eligibility, cuts to cost of living adjustments or other schemes to weaken the program are unnecessary, unwise and unfair because the system is solvent, the recession will be worsened by cuts and the very wealthiest are not paying their fair share," said Richard Bidwell, a longtime activist with the Gray Panthers and the Rhode Island Senior Agenda. "It is the same for Medicare and Medicaid. We urge our federal delegation to vote "no" to any cuts to benefits to these programs. We know from experience that the access to health care they provide can make the difference between life and death."

Craig O’Connor, a Providence resident who helped draft the letter, said, “As I read the news and the horrible things that Congress and the President were considering, it heartened me that my members of Congress were speaking out, adding some sanity to this crazy debate. They each publicly called on their colleagues to protect these important programs and to insist that responsible revenue increases be considered.”

“As the letter says,” added Brock, “these actions show that Sen. Reed, Sen. Whitehouse, Rep. Langevin and Rep. Cicilline are the progressive leaders that Rhode Island and America need today.”


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