PARKERSBURG - A number of people held a vigil in Parkersburg to urge national lawmakers to work out an agreement to prevent the country from going over the "fiscal cliff'' without hurting working people and seniors.
Around five members of the Communications Workers of America Local 2003 held a candlelight vigil outside the Federal Building on Juliana Street in Parkersburg Wednesday evening urging Republican Congressman David McKinley, whose Parkersburg office is located in the building, to protect programs vital to West Virginians which are in danger due to the impending "fiscal cliff" deadline in Congress.
''As the Congress in Washington D.C. is getting ready to either go off the cliff or fix the problems we have, we are making our voices heard on behalf of the active working people and seniors who are so dependent on Social Security as well as Medicare,'' said Elaine Harris, CWA International Representative.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Elaine Harris, Communication Workers of America International Representative, has a candle it by CWA member Robin Young outside the Parkersburg Federal Building Wednesday evening.
The CWA wants leaders in Congress to look at tax benefits received by those in the upper income brackets, those they feel should be paying more in taxes, but not put anymore on workers who are struggling to make ends meet and those who are getting by, but cannot afford anymore of a tax burden.
The vigil participants are asking McKinley to oppose any funding cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They are also asking him to let the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire, but want the tax cuts for middle class and low-income families to be preserved.
''In these hard economic times the government needs to do everything in its power to ease the burden on working people and retirees,'' Harris said. ''Programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are the safety nets keeping many people out of poverty and cutting funding to any of the programs will cause real hardship for the people of this state.''
Harris believes Congress has to get something done and soon or many people will be impacted.
''It is a matter of the parties coming together,'' she said. ''They have to get in the same room and work until they get it done.
''At the same time, those decisions have to be made that aren't going to hurt ordinary people. That is so critically important.''
The country needs to look at the money being spent on the wars it is involved in and the amount of foreign aid going out to other countries.
''They need to take some hardline looks at that,'' Harris said. ''They need to look at our national security in order to protect us.''
Local 2003 President Eric Gant said they want the leaders in Washington D.C. to come together, do their jobs and avoid the hard penalties before the country goes over the "fiscal cliff.''
''I hope a deal is worked out,'' Gant said. ''I don't want to see what will happen if it doesn't."
Representatives for Congressman McKinley could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
In Washington D.C., Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va, joined other House Republicans for a press conference highlighting the effect the national debt will have on America's families.
As the debate over the "fiscal cliff" continues, Republicans are emphasizing the need to cut spending, avert the fiscal cliff and protect the next generation of Americans from the detrimental effects of out-of-control spending, representatives for the Congresswoman said.
During the conference, Capito spoke about being a grandparent and seeing how daunting the national debt will be to today's children as they grow up. She also spoke about being in a position of having to care for elderly parents who rely on Medicare and Social Security.
''I understand how important those safety net programs are for them,'' she said.
Leaders have the opportunity now to do something to prevent today's children from having to shoulder the burden and make sure programs continue to remain in place for the elderly who need them, now and in the future.
''We must come up with a common sense plan,'' Capito said. "We can't ask people around the country to send more money to Washington before we're ready to say Washington is ready to make the systemic changes that are so desperately needed."