NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Rep. Nancy Johnson’s (R-Conn.) staff members scowled as Halloween-costumed “Fat Cats” crowded into her office to say “thanks” for $70 billion in tax giveaways to millionaires, while billions of dollars are cut from food stamps, Medicaid, student loans and child support.

Johnson, who chairs the health panel of House Ways and Means Committee, was one of several members of Congress targeted for the Oct. 31 “Robin Hood in reverse” budget protest actions.

Outside on Grove Street, a driver pulled her car over to find out what the demonstration was about. “I’ll go back home and get everyone to call-in and protest these cuts,” she said.

Thousands of irate phone calls and e-mails stopped a vote on the cuts in mid-October. But this week, at the urging of George W. Bush, Republican committee chairs will propose even deeper cuts affecting low- and middle-income families. A vote in the House is expected early this month.

Public pressure is being widely urged to demand that Democrats stand firm against, and that Republicans break from, the Bush administration’s proposal to slash vital social programs. The GOP is claiming such cuts are necessary to help fund programs for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

At stake are cuts of $10 billion from Medicaid, which covers 50 million people; $4.5 billion from food stamps, which serves 25 million people; and $7 billion from programs that serve 147,000 low-income families with children and 131,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The largest single cut in the history of student aid programs is also being considered.

“If lawmakers were serious about preserving revenue to rebuild the Gulf Coast, addressing the poverty highlighted by Hurricane Katrina and reining in deficits, they would re-examine tax policies that have shrunk federal revenues,” said a statement from the National Women’s Law Center. “They would not propose additional tax cuts or cuts to supports for low-income families.”

The NWLC is a member of the newly formed Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities (ECAP), which organized the Halloween actions. At the events, the new coalition unveiled “Skewed Priorities,” a state-by-state analysis of the Republican budget plan. The report estimates the plan, if passed, will increase deficits by as much as $35 billion.

The coalition, an offshoot of Americans United to Save Social Security, is fresh from the battles that stalled Social Security privatization and restored Davis-Bacon wage rates in the Gulf.

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