Maryland Responds to the Debt Deal
Peace Action Montgomery plans Town Hall Meeting to fight budget cuts
by Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery
“I haven’t given up on the American people, but I have given up on the Democrats,” my friend told me last week. A life-long Democrat and an active participant in several legislative campaigns in Maryland, she has dropped her membership in the party. “The debt deal was the last straw,” she said.
Many progressives are furious about this deal and are not content to sit back and watch what comes next when the “super committee” gets going. In Maryland, a new state-wide coalition has been created called “Fund Our Communities, Bring the War Dollars Home.” Representing tens of thousands of people in the state, this coalition aims to ensure that the needs of the people of Maryland are addressed and, as a key way to fund what we need in this country, that the bloated military budget is substantially reduced and overseas wars and occupations ended.
The first major activity of the coalition—a citizens’ Town Hall to be held on Sept. 20—is being cosponsored by over 60 organizations, including advocacy, political and service organizations, veterans’ groups, labor unions, and religious congregations.
The implications of the budget deal for state services in Maryland and the likelihood of possible future cuts by the super committee are key items on the program. Last spring, prior to the budget deal that will decimate state and local services, State Senator Jamie Raskin commented, “The economic downturn has drained our state and local treasuries to dangerously low levels and is inflicting immense suffering on our people. In the context of this crisis, the current unprecedented level of military spending constitutes a shocking misallocation of national resources.”
Unlike most other Town Halls, this one will include an opportunity for people to gather in small groups to develop plans for what they will do next, ranging from acts of civil resistance to getting names on petitions.
Rion Dennis, executive director of Progressive Maryland, a powerful labor-dominated organization in Maryland and one of the cosponsors of the Town Hall, explains the importance of the event: “This Town Hall is designed to provide an opportunity for us to organize in response to the disgraceful budget deal, unending wars, and the multiple other political outrages of recent years. It represents our chance to demand a politics that is right and fair and just.”
Speakers at the Town Hall include Rep. Donna Edwards, State Senator Roger Manno, economist Heather Boushey, and Institute for Policy Studies Fellow Karen Dolan. More information here.