Protesters to GOP Kirk: hands off Social Security; jobs now

KirkProtest

LISLE, Ill. - Angered by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk's repeated votes against extension of unemployment compensation and jobs creation, protesters crashed a posh Kirk fundraiser here Aug. 26.

Chanting "Hands off Social Security" and "Jobs now!" demonstrators were blocked from entering the swanky affair by startled donors and eventually escorted out.

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) has voted against working families too many times, and (his election to the US Senate) isn't going to happen," said Siobhan Kolar of Chicago Jobs with Justice. "He's a liar and a flip-flopper and we need to stop him."

Kirk voted against the $26 billion HR 1586 Education and Medicaid Assistance Act, which among other things saved the jobs of 161,000 teachers including 6 thousand in Illinois alone. The bill saved the jobs of 158,000 other public employees including firefighters and police.

Even with the bill's passage, 1,700 Chicago public school teachers and another 10,000 statewide will be fired adding to already over crowded classrooms.

Kirk said he voted against the bill to prevent the budget deficit from getting worse. Most progressive economists maintain the deficit will get far worse with higher unemployment and deeper cuts to public services. JWJ, the AFL-CIO and others are calling for a tax on Wall Street speculators to close the deficit and fund jobs creation and public services.

Kirk has also voted against extension of unemployment compensation 6 times for the same reason despite a 12% unemployment rate in Illinois.

"In this economic time the people need a senator who is going to come in and work with the President and Congress to get resources back to communities, creating jobs and rebuilding the economy," said Rev. Michael Stinson, pastor of the General Assembly and Church of the First Born. "Mark Kirk is out of touch."

"If the Republicans get control it's really going to be hard for President Obama to get legislation passed to rebuild this economy," said Stinson. "They want to go back to doing things like benefiting the upper crust of society and not the average people."

Protesters were also concerned about where Kirk stands on privatization of Social Security and Medicare and termination of the Children's Health Insurance Program. According to DeLane Adams, Illinois State Director of Americans United Change, Kirk has been mum for months on where he stands on the detailed GOP privatization proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (WI).

"There is a serious proposal for privatization from a Congressman who could one day be in a position to advance this Bush-era scheme for making Wall Street bankers richer.  We are just hoping to get a straight answer from Rep. Kirk on how he would vote. Right now, we're left to wonder if Kirk's silence has anything to do with the more than half a million dollars he has taken from Wall Street interests this year," he said.

Photo: (John Bachtell/PW)