SHARON — Demonstrators seek end to shutdown and looming default
By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
Bearing signs declaring they were delivering a cease and desist order to U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a group of around 15 staged a rally in front of his Sharon office saying that wanted an end to the partial federal shutdown and looming default.
The mock order, which has no legal power, was intended to get the 3rd District, Republican congressman from Butler to “cease and desist from extreme politics.” The rally was backed by the liberal non-profit Keystone Progress which held similar events at the offices of Pennsylvania’s 13 Republican House members and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Several in the group spoke and said congress was being held hostage by a small group of hard-core conservative Republicans such as Kelly.
“I came to Rep. Kelly’s office today because I’m outraged that a member of congress would shut down the government, threaten to default on our country’s debts and trigger another recession, just because he can’t get his way,” said Chuck Baldoff, a Hermitage resident.
While Republicans balk at raising the national debt Baldoff noted the late Republican President Ronald Reagan approved raising the debt limit 18 times while in office. Further, current calls for cuts in welfare and food stamps would lead families down a dire path.
“They talk about family values. Well, eating is a family value,” Baldoff said. “Lifting the debt ceiling doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.”
Retired Lakeview teacher Judy Hines said the partial shutdown has crippled the U.S. Department of Commerce which helps businesses.
“The GOP is suppose to be business supporters,” Hines said.
Missa Eaton was among the group’s leaders who also spoke. The Democrat ran against Mike Kelly last year and lost.
Republicans seeking to cut food stamps fail to say that $90 million of those funds go to those in the U.S. military, Eaton said. She added it’s the working poor who are the primary users of food stamps.
“It goes to working families, not families not working,” said.
The last time Eaton said she spoke to Kelly was in August during a local town hall meeting. She called for him to support the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kelly was among House Republicans who voted 42 times to defund Obamacare.
“Instead of changing certain aspects of the law they want wholesale repeal,” she said.
When asked for a response Kelly’s office issued a news release.
“Rep. Kelly always welcomes feedback from his constituents and appreciates their right to peaceably assemble,” the release said. “He shares their desire to see this budget stalemate ended and, like most Americans, wants to reach a serious solution that lifts the unfair debt burden from our children and grandchildren’s future.”
Asked for a specific comment on members within the group asserting that raising the debt limit didn’t add to the deficit went unresponded Tuesday afternoon by Kelly’s office.
When asked if Keystone Progress was backed by the Democrat party, Eaton said the progressive group wasn’t.
“But Democrats tend to be behind progressive action,” she said.