DETROIT – It’s hurting our communities, said demonstrators in downtown Detroit protesting the tea party led government shutdown. Thursday’s rally in front of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building was one of hundreds taking place throughout the country organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
Tea partiers hate Obamacare so much they are “willing to put 800,000 people out of work,” said Emily Lockhart, a student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.
Worst are the cuts hitting families receiving Women, Infant and Children (WIC) food coupons and benefits to fallen soldiers families. “Many don’t have any other source of income,” she said.
Pointing to the structure behind us, Joe Dolan, a National Representative for AFGE, said people in this building are the ones “making the decisions on veterans’ benefits.” Because of prior job cuts, he said they were already working short staffed. Now 80 percent have been sent home and the other 20 percent are working without pay.
“That’s bad for employees and even worse on those they provide services too,” worried Dolan.
This loss of services Detroiters and Michiganders are experiencing is exactly what the right wing fringe wants on a permanent basis, said Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis.
What drives him crazy is that the shutdown isn’t about freedom but rather it’s about “anarchism.” “They (tea party extremists) want government small enough you can drown it in a bathtub. Unfortunately they are getting it,” said Michalakis.
After putting his life on the line, veteran Ozzie James from Ypsilanti is outraged that benefits for military families are threatened. He wondered what kind of nation we are becoming and said our nation must “get back to basics,” caring for the welfare of each other.
Charlene Olson came to the rally because she had a message for those opposing the Affordable Care Act, “it’s a law – get over it.”
Her concern is personal. Her grandchildren were able to get health care by enrolling on their parents’ plan, a huge benefit provided by Obamacare.
In addition her youngest daughter has an immune disorder and for decades has been unable to get healthcare. Another benefit of Obamacare is that pre-existing conditions can no longer be used to deny coverage.
Southfield councilperson Jeremy Moss said it’s “frustrating” as a councilperson to see a few extremists hold the country hostage. “If we have problems, we don’t shut down city hall, we’ll stay as late as it takes.”
He said it was “shameful” the shutdown came about because a minority doesn’t want to expand access to healthcare.
Michalakis, who used to represent workers in the food processing industry, said he knows how important inspectors from the USDA (Department of Agriculture) are. The fact we don’t have USDA inspectors on job sites right now really worries him.
For meat eaters he had a warning, “better cook that meat a little extra.”
Photo: At Detroit “Let Us Work” rally. People’s World