A couple of weeks ago, a coalition of labor and community groups teamed with faith leaders and rallied hundreds in front of Sen. Claire McCaskill's office in St. Louis, MO. In a private meeting with McCaskill during the rally, protest organizers got McCaskill to agree to keep Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid off the table in negotiations with the Republicans. Which is a big step, if you've followed McCaskill, because she's known primarily as a deficit hawk who favors cutting programs, not preserving them. The same group turned their aim this week towards Roy Blunt, a Republican freshman in the US Senate with a long prior history in the US House of favoring tax cuts for the rich and program cuts for everyone else, save for the big earmarks for his own district. A longshot for the protest organizers, perhaps, but two hundred rallying in the rain outside Sen. Blunt's office in the tony St. Louis suburb of Clayton helped persuade Blunt's staff to invite some of the organizers inside for a meeting, but only with senior staff, not with Sen. Blunt himself. Kirsten Dunham of Paraquad listed the havoc that Medicaid cuts would wreak on people helped by her organization, many of whom depend on Paraquad's services to be as productive as they are. Judith Parker of the Alliance of Retired Americans spoke of the utter dismay that retired Missourians are feeling at the thought that Social Security would be trimmed. And Rev. Carlton Stock detailed the programs that his church provides for low income families in the area and told of the devastation that many of them experience if these cuts went through. Each of the organizers were especially concerned that the budget would be balanced on the backs of the poor, and that not enough attention was being paid to the need to raise revenue by rolling back tax cuts for the superrich. Rev. Carlton Stock requested a personal meeting with Sen. Blunt before any votes were taken on the default crisis negotiations, a request that was rebuffed. Blunt's schedule is so unpredictable, apparently, that there was no way to guarantee a meeting. There is one predictable element on Sen. Blunt's schedule, however. He's holding a fundraiser this week in Washington DC with high-priced lobbyists at a minimum of $500 a head. That's more per ticket than most of those rallying outside his office make in a week. (Hat tip to Show Me Progress for the video.)
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