Democrat & Chronicle


Justin Murphy


While Sen. Charles Schumer and the rest of Congress dickered over a solution to the fiscal cliff impasse Monday, several dozen demonstrators gathered outside Schumer’s office in downtown Rochester to remind him they’re watching.

The protest, coordinated for International Human Rights Day and carried out despite intermittent rain, included activists from Metro Justice of Rochester, the Rochester Council of MoveOn and the Band of Rebels. They advocated for higher taxes on the rich and continued support for Social Security, Medicare and other social programs.

“We say the fiscal cliff is another propaganda piece in the class war,” Bill McCoy of Rochester said. “The real agenda of the people at the top is to take away Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, or at least privatize them so Wall Street can collect enormous fees.”

McCoy and others pointed out that the wealthiest Americans used to pay more than twice as much in income taxes before a series of tax cuts in the last several decades. They said those rates should go back into effect.

“I don’t like the idea that the rich aren’t supportive of our social welfare programs,” Susanna Porter of Irondequoit said. “We’re going to have more people needing them — myself included.”

As of 1 p.m. Monday, more than 9,000 people had signed an online petition urging Schumer to “make sure any fiscal deal reached ends the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent and protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits from any cuts.”

McCoy also complained how the word ‘entitlement’ has come into popular use to refer to social programs.

“‘Entitlement’ has a bad flavor to it,” he said. “The fact is, Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits. I paid into them for 50 years.”

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