Elected representatives. Those words should mean something, but to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin apparently they apply when he decides. And that is the trouble with this government. It has become unresponsive to the people. Durbin has all but closed the doors on his constituents, many of whom have expressed disappointment and disapproval over his apparent eagerness to negotiate and compromise over Medicaid, medicare and Social Security benefits.
I like Dick Durbin. I voted for Dick Durbin. I thought he had more character. I still hope he does. I am deeply disappointed in the direction he’s taken.
Didn’t the Democrats win the election? They picked up seats in both houses as voters overwhelmingly rejected the austerity posturing of the Republican ticket. That means Durbin, leading the negotiations for the Obama Administration, is willing and ready to sell out the poor, working folks and middle class for concessions over tax-hikes for the richest 2%, perverse subsidies for oil companies, a bloated growth-strangling defense budget and corporate welfare. Projected savings for these would add or save more than $4 Trillion-that’s trillion with a T over the next 10 years.
Tax reformers are asking for: An end to Bush Tax Cuts for Top 2% generating $1 trillion, eestablish a Financial Transaction Tax, or Robin Hood Tax, on Wall Street trading for $1.8 trillion, restore a robust estate tax (above 2009 level): $253 billion, ending fossil fuel tax subsidies $38 billion, an end to preferential tax rates for income from stocks and bonds and other assets (tax capital gains as income): $533 billion, and a reduce incentives for moving jobs and corporate profits offshore $583 billion.
I met today with protesters outside Durbin’s office in downtown Chicago, where they had erected a symbolic soup-line. On Thursday they will erect a shantytown, dubbed “Durbinville,” illustrating the catastrophic effects cuts to the social safety net will have, particularly on the poor and elderly.
“It’s a done deal,” he told protesters several weeks ago, admonishing them that “they needed someone at the table.”
Well, where is this table, and why is a semi-secretive group of appointees ram-rodding this decision through without consideration from voters and constituents? What is the urgency, especially since the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ is an arbitrary date? What is the real agenda here? It certainly is not about the financial health of the country, but of the wealth of a few, which Durbin seems to be betraying his loyalties over regarding these negotiations.
There were several Christian pastors among the group, one of whom voted for Durbin. Asked if he felt betrayed, he pursed his lips and shook his head.
“The dems are a little bit more responsive.”
“We need to make the democratic party,” said a tax-fairness advocate named Jacob, who also voted for Durbin. “Durbin is inside the beltway and can’t think outside the “common sense” of Washington.”
Their expectations are reasonable and simple. In a letter sent to the Senator a number of community groups from across the city laid out protections for the nation’s most vulnerable:
We’re calling on Senator Durbin to use his power to create a fair solution in budget
negotiations based on these principles:
1. A Fair Solution is based in fair taxation: we must end tax breaks for the richest 2%, and institute a small tax on risky Wall Street trading.
2. A Fair Solution invests in the American people: in our infrastructure, education,transportation, jobs, housing, and health.
3. A Fair Solution protects our investment in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid so we can all be assured economic security and health care in our retirement or for seniors and those with disabilities.
Rev. Tom Gaulke of the South Loop Campus Ministry summed it up this way, “Jesus came to preach good news to the masses, not to feed them b.s., but to genuinely offer good news for the suffering.”
So what compels Durbin’s conscience? He needs to hear from voters and constituents, and this is how:
WASHINGTON, D.C. Office
309 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
230 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.