Protest rally organizers Joe Seemen (at bullhorn) and Susan Weber (center, rear) lead a chant of ‘Jobs, Not Cuts’ in front of the Glens Falls office of U.S. Rep Chris Gibson, who they said was following failed economic policies that enrich the wealthy while squeezing the finances of the middle class and the poor. Gibson representatives welcomed the protest, while declaring that Gibson is taking action to advocate for job development and equality in taxation.
With protesters rallied behind her shouting “Jobs, Not Cuts,” Nancy Newbern stood beside Glen St., holding a sign that read: “Support Us Hard Workers — Tax the Wealthy.”
More than two years ago, cutbacks at the Glens Falls Post-Star newspaper resulted in the elimination of her job as an editorial receptionist, she said.
Newbern went back to college soon after to further her education, but she’s been unable to secure a job despite applying for dozens of positions.
“I was devastated to lose my job,’ she said, blaming the banks and big corporations for manipulating the economy and creating the financial crisis. “I’ve run out of unemployment benefits and spent down my savings — I’m sunk.”
Newbern was among several dozen local people demonstrating outside U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson’s Glen Street office, protesting government cutbacks and right-wing policies they said are fattening the wallets of the rich while squeezing the poor.
The Oct. 4 protest was held in sympathy of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street rallies being held nationwide.
As Newbern was waving her sign for passing motorists to read, Susan Weber of Kattskill Bay proclaimed to the protesters that failed government policies and corporate collusion were making the rich wealthier — and the poor increasingly desperate.
“The wealthiest 1 percent in the nation own 90 percent of the nation’s wealth, yet the bottom 80 percent own only 7 percent of the wealth — and that is wrong,” Weber yelled to the crowd. The gap between the rich and the poor is nine times greater than in the 1970s, she continued.
Pumping up the crowd, Weber said that right-wing policies were harming the area’s economy, as well as in the nation’s hard-hit cities.
“The laid-off and unemployed can’t grow our economy,” she said, voicing support for a strong jobs bill. “We need to end corporate bailouts — these failed policies have hit Glens Falls — all our businesses have been suffering.”
Neal Herr listened to Weber’s pleas.
“The nation isn’t broke, it’s just misled,” he said.
Mike Parwana of Lake Luzerne protested that the public was duped into ditching pensions for 401k plans that plummeted in value; and that top CEOs, regardless of the billions of wealth they destroyed, were paid millions of dollars in bonuses despite their incompetence.
Rally organizer Joe Seemen took his turn behind the group’s bullhorn and stood behind a caricature of Chris Gibson: a cardboard cutout of his face stuck in a stuffed dummy garbed in a business suit and adorned with signs suggesting Gibson is aligned with corporations, not citizens struggling with the economic slump.
“Chris Gibson, you’ve been standing up for Wall Street, billionaires, insurance companies, and military contractors,” he barked. “We need you to represent Main Street, the middle class and poor people.”
Inside Gibson’s office, the Congressman’s local representative, Mark Westcott, watched the protests and listened to chants of “People Over Profits.”
“We welcome the protesters — this is part of the democratic process,” he said, referring policy questions to Stephanie Valle, who works for Gibson in Washington D.C. “It’s encouraging to have this type of public dialogue.”
Rachael Shafer of Chestertown stood just outside the office window, wearing Mardi Gras glasses, a grin and a sign that read: “Freedom is Not Equal to ‘Greedom.’”
“Government cuts take dollars out of circulation,” she said. “We’ve had 30 years of tax cuts to Wall Street, and that represents wealth that goes directly to the rich, and not the people who need it.”
Seemen drowned out her voice with his protests amplified through the bullhorn.
“Chris Gibson, we want you to stand up and put America back to work,” he said.
In a phone call from Washington D.C., Valle said later that Gibson was taking every effort to do so.
She said he’d voted for public infrastructure development, and lobbied to close tax loopholes for the wealthy, while lowering tax rates for all — to boost the economy and create jobs.
“Chris is working to make the tax rate more equitable, to ensure that corporations pay their fair share, and to make our economy more competitive in the global marketplace,” she said.
She continued that a recent analysis of Gibson’s voting patterns show’s he’s not strictly aligned with the right wing or Republicans, but he was one of the three Congressional representatives ranked as voting the most independently.
“Chris spends a lot of time research, and votes for what’s best for his constituents,” she said.