NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Jobs and Unemployed Committee of the New Haven Peoples Center created a simple petition, which was posted online by a local MoveOn activist: "We urge Senator Lieberman to pass President Obama's American Jobs Act and additional legislation to extend benefits for the unemployed, provide aid to cities and states to reverse layoffs, and create jobs to rebuild infrastructure and improve social services, targeted to communities most in need."
The 1,500 petition signatures were presented at a spirited rally in Hartford by 25 MoveOn supporters on October 13. An aide from the Senator's office confirmed that Lieberman had supported cloture (to allow the jobs bill to be voted on) but would vote against the bill itself in its present form. One speaker at the rally accused the Senator of putting millionaires and future deficits ahead of Connecticut's 160,000 unemployed -- a fourfold increase in the last ten years.
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Within hours of its online posting, hundreds had signed the petition, with over a thousand signatures the first day.
Within hours of its online posting, hundreds had signed the petition, with over a thousand signatures the first day. They come from all over Connecticut, from most of the state's 169 towns. Although some of the signers came from cities with the highest unemployment, most were from smaller towns and cities, including some of the most affluent communities in the country. Many of the signers added their own comments.
Some wrote about their personal situations. From Wethersfield, Conn: "My husband was unemployed for 2 years and for the most recent 2 years has been underemployed, minimum wage, no benefits. We have a child in college, a mortgage and car loans. Sign this bill." From Southbury: "Please sign this bill I have been looking for a job for 2 years." And from Fairfield, simply, "Help! My family is really struggling. Thank you."
Small business owners also signed. From Bethlehem, Conn: "Please sign the jobs bill. I'm a small business owner and need this," and from Stamford, "Infrastructure investment is key. Please don't weaken the tepid recovery with more cuts. As a small business owner, the last thing I want taken away from the economy is any free capital. Put the money in hands who will actually use it."
Many signers addressed the economic benefits of the Jobs Act. From Durham, Conn: "I urge you to pass President Obama's Jobs Bill in order to expedite the rebuilding of American infrastructure which has been seriously neglected over the past decades. This will both create jobs and increase the safety of our roads and bridges. Connecticut has some of the most traveled highways in our country and I feel that putting this off is just asking for disaster. Please PASS THE BILL." From West Hartford, "Employing more teachers and emergency responders gives back to our communities in so many ways including financially. Please make sure this happens." A writer from Preston, a town of just under 5,000, explained: "The big puzzle is only two pieces: massive unemployment and crumbling infrastructure. I refuse to believe that America has lost its ability to put these two pieces together."
A writer from Hebron gave a more comprehensive analysis. "We the people are tired of waiting for our Congress to take action related to the huge economic disparities that exist in this country. People need action from our leaders and people need hope. I'd really like to see something like FDR's CCC program. This bill is better than nothing. Frankly, I don't care how it's paid for. We should worry about that later. If we don't get people back to work, we are going to continue to be in a financial mess in this country. Give the "Job Creators" a kick in the rear end. I'm sick of being worried about whether things Congress does are going to make Job Creators mad. I am mad at the Job Creators. I think the Occupy Wall Street movements spreading across the country is the most heartening thing that has happened in America in the last four years."
Others agreed that the AJA is just the first step that's needed. "It's not everything that's needed, but at least it is a useful next step" -- Hamden. "This bill may not go far enough & I urge you to push for additional funding" -- Manchester.
The language of the Occupy Wall Street movement has already influenced what many see as the class war being waged against the 99% by the 1%. From Ridgefield, "Support the people you represent, not corporations and 1% of the country," and from Mystic, "Represent your people, [Sen.] Joe [Lieberman], not the banksters and greedheads."
Many expressed support for the President or disgust at Republican tactics. From New Haven, "The Republicans has made a mess for President Obama to clean up, and now they want to pass the blame. Please let's help this President by calling your Senators and Representatives. May God Bless You, and God Bless America." From Milford, "The Republican goal of making sure that nothing gets done during Obama's term amounts to extortion of the American people. Do not be part of it. Pass this bill," and from East Lyme, "I have never seen so many do everything possible to prevent the success of any action this administration has tried to take."
Perhaps most dramatic are the simple statements from some of Senator Lieberman's constituents:
For the sake of the Nation, I urge you to support this bill when it comes to a vote. -- New Fairfield
Senator Lieberman, have the courage to do the right thing. -- Moodus
This is a no-brainer! Please vote YES! -- Coventry
Let's get it done! -- North Branford
Please, please, please vote to pass this vital jobs bill. -- East Haddam
Photo: Art Perlo/PW