PHILADELPHIA – Chanting protesters with colorful signs lined the streets across from the U.S. Treasury Department offices as a motorcade brought in George W. Bush for a photo-op to bring attention to his “tax credit checks,” supposedly ready to be mailed. But 352,000 Pennsylvania families will be receiving no check at all.

“Bush leaves 12 million children behind,” said one sign. “Bush leaves no millionaire behind,” said another. The crowd began to chant, “1-2-3-4, Tax cuts for the poor! 5-6-7-8, George Bush discriminates!”

The demonstration, which was organized by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), protested the exclusion of low-income families from receiving a $400 per child tax credit. ACORN urged Bush to quickly persuade Congress to reinstate the child tax credit for low income families, which was cut from the bill at the last moment.

ACORN member Mary Bryant is a teacher’s aide and cares for her three grandchildren. Bryant earns $22,000 a year, below the $26,000 limit, and is therefore ineligible for the tax credit. “All my money goes for bills,” said Bryant. “I still have leftover unpaid bills at the end of the month. It is not fair to deny this tax credit to the families who need it the most.”

Darlene Battle said in the past she had received a tax credit for her son, a college student, but now only children under 17 qualify. “This tax system is unfair,” she said.

Speakers from United for a Fair Economy said the huge tax cuts for the wealthy plus the huge military budget will result in dangerous deficits and huge cuts in all social programs – education, health care, affordable housing, job training and creation, and transportation. “Money for after-school programs has been cut from $1.75 billion to $600 million,” said Kathy Miller from Philadelphia’s NOW chapter. “We need to get out the vote and get Bush out of office for what he’s doing to our lives.”

A speaker from Citizens for Consumer Justice, Lauren Townsend, questioned why any person should be forced to choose between buying food and buying medicine.

A chant went up from the crowd, “Push Bush out the door, Send him to the bushes!” John Braxton, director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, called Bush a liar and a cheater, evoking strong applause. “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” he asked. “He lied and people died,” answered the crowd.

“Bush’s policies are against people and for the corporations,” said Braxton.

In response to Bush’s visit to Philadelphia, the Congressional Black Caucus reported that under Bush’s stewardship, over three million jobs have been lost, African American unemployment has skyrocketed to 11.8 percent, and the projected 10-year deficit has ballooned to over $4 trillion.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, “Because of the president and the congressional Republicans’ economic policies, and their unwillingness to work with the Democrats, our great country remains mired in an economic quagmire for which the Republicans have no plan for a way out.”

Philadelphia has a 7.8 percent unemployment rate with 52,400 people looking for work.

“The truth is,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), “that a $100 tax cut for the average citizen coupled with huge tax cuts for the rich does no good for our struggling economy.”

Fattah said Bush’s tax cuts will result in fewer jobs, more debt, and plummeting investments in education, health care, and affordable housing.

The author can be reached at phillyrose1@earthlink.net

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