As talk of avoiding the fiscal cliff continues in Washington, a group of local labor leaders and community activists took to the streets of Pittsburgh to call on Senator Bob Casey to make good on his promise to “stand with the middle class.” Members of advocacy group One Pittsburgh spoke with Casey shortly after his re-election and said they were told he would.
“And since then he’s started talking about making concessions and compromising with the Republicans and that’s not what we asked of him at all. We want him to stand up and invest in our communities, tax the rich who haven’t been paying taxes, or at least their fair share of taxes, for the last 30 years, and we think it’s just about time that everybody pays their fair share,” said Kyndall Mason, spokeswoman for One Pittsburgh.
It’s not so much the thought of compromise that doesn’t sit well with Jean Friday. She’s the president of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans. She said her main concern is the thought of cuts to Medicare, Medicade, and Social Security.
"It’s the people in the future, that’s who we really worry about" - Kyndall Mason
“I would be alright, but it’s the people in the future, that’s who we really worry about,” she said, “this is America, these are things that benefit our people, that allow them to retire, and we want that to continue, that’s what we’re fighting for.”
A large group marched from the Allegheny Conference offices on Stanwix to Senator Casey’s downtown office, pulling a sign that read “Sen. Casey: Jobs not Cuts.” The Pittsburgh march coincided with a large phone and Facebook campaign to urge the Senator to stand firm in fiscal cliff negotiations. One Pittsburgh’s Kyndall Mason said such events don’t necessarily effect immediate change, but rather help raise awareness.
“What it does is it starts getting a critical mass of people thinking, ‘what is going on? Why is it like that? What’s this all about?’ and I think that what it does,” she said, “from a Senator’s perspective, is when there are angry people outside his office, who elected him to office, I would hope it would open his ears a little bit to what his constituents want and not was he wants.”
A spokesman for Senator Casey said the following in reply to the rally, "Senator Casey's top priority during the fiscal cliff debate is to protect the middle class. Senator Casey is fighting to make sure middle class taxes don't go up on January 1st and working to extend the payroll tax cut for another year to increase take-home pay for middle class Pennsylvanians."