100,000 voters sign pledges backing Obama 2010 budget

WASHINGTON—Organizing for America (OFA) volunteers went door-to-door in all 50 states March 28 and collected more than 100,000 signatures on pledges of support for President Obama’s 2010 Budget.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Maggie Flanigan, 14, and Rose Nelson, 15, answered the President’s appeal and recruited 12 people to knock on doors in Salt Lake City that Saturday. Flanigan had volunteered as much as 40 hours weekly in the Obama election campaign last year.

Denise Mavor, who was Flanigan’s Third Grade school teacher joined the effort. She told the Tribune, “I believe in what President Obama is trying to do for the people of our country. He has the best interests of everyone in mind and heart. It’s the way he listens to people, as if to say, ‘Together we can do this…’”

Retiree Robert Archuleta who spent 34 years in the Salt Lake City public schools as a teacher and administrator hailed the door-to-door effort in his city. “Everyone in Utah is feeling good about Obama’s education budget,” Archuleta told the World by phone. “Cutbacks were being planned but funds from the stimulus package arrived and they were able to put those layoffs on hold.”

Archuleta praised the youth in Utah for jumping on the bandwagon. “A lot of the credit for that goes to Obama himself who has inspired young people to get involved and make the changes. There is a spirit in Utah and in the country that change for the better is coming,' he added.

Charles Strickland, 65, of Port Angeles, Washington, telephoned his Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both Democrats, to ask them to support Obama’s budget. “I am a borrow and spend Democrat who believes that we must support our President’s program to invest in universal health care, education and green energy for the sake of our children and grandchildren and their future,” he told the lawmakers.

Strickland accused Republicans of “hypocrisy” in whipping up hysteria against deficit spending. “This is not the time to worry about running up the national debt,” he said. “They should have been worrying about that debt over the past eight years when they were pouring tens of billions down that rat-hole in Iraq.” Washington State’s government, he said, is struggling because of the economic crisis. “Only the federal government can help prevent a collapse,” he told the World in a phone interview.

OFA Media Director Natalie Wyeth told the World via email that one of the volunteers in Denver, Colorado, had voted for Republican John McCain but spent last Saturday collecting pledges for the Obama budget. A canvasser in Pennsylvania knocked on the door of a Republican and opened a friendly conversation about the need for Obama’s budget.

“That speaks to one of OFA’s objectives,” she said, “to engage voters across the country in a dialogue regardless of their political affiliation about the important issues facing our country and provide them with the tools needed to play a part in the legislative process.”

The House and Senate are racing this week to finish the debate and vote on the Budget Resolution, the first step in approving President Obama’s $3.6 trillion Fiscal Year 2010 budget that will take effect next Oct. 1. Obama went to Capitol Hill to meet with Democratic Senators to urge rejection of cutbacks proposed by the Republicans and a handful of conservative Democrats. After that meeting, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) said virtually all of Obama’s program will be approved. It requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate to pass the Budget Resolution so it is impossible for the Republicans to block it with a filibuster.

WCCO-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul reported that OFA volunteers fanned out across the Twin Cities to collect pledges in support of the budget. Chris Kramer, 17, told a TV news reporter, “It's important to continue the support we had at the end of the (Obama) campaign. Almost all the contacts we have had have been positive. People have signed.”

Teacher Nancy Dana said, “I think its incredibly important. I’m an educator and I think that if we don’t do something about education really soon, we’re going to have many, many more problems. This is a critical time.” Obama’s budget allocates $115 billion next year in federal aid to education, nearly three times more than ex-President George W. Bush’s budget.

Americans United for Change released a statement signed by 100 mass organizations that said in part, “It is our firm belief that if (Obama’s budget) priorities are enacted we will turn back the trend of rising poverty, unemployment, hunger, and homelessness.”