Group asks Rep. Walden to go against GOP stand

Tracy Phillips hand-delivered a message to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden's Medford office on Tuesday, asking the GOP congressman to buck his party's stance concerning the national debt limit.

Phillips, local council coordinator for the liberal group MoveOn.org, led about 20 people into Walden's office, where they met with members of Walden's staff for nearly an hour.

The congressman was in Washington, D.C.

"Representative Walden and Republicans in Congress are threatening to throw the economy over a cliff and destroy the American dream, just so they can protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires," the Phoenix resident said in a prepared statement.

"Representative Walden should not be asking seniors, the middle class and the poor to bear the burden of deficit reduction," she added. "It's time for Washington to work for us, not the corporations and millionaires."

A Walden spokesman rejected those claims, countering that the congressman supports balancing the budget while reducing taxes and creating jobs.

The protest, part of a national effort, came on the eve of today's expected vote in the House on legislation offered by Republican Speaker John Boehner to raise the debt limit by $1 trillion while making cuts to federal spending of $1.2 trillion.

President Obama has threatened to veto the measure. He has expressed support for a Senate Democratic plan that would reduce deficits by about $2.7 trillion over 10 years only with spending cuts, not with additional revenue.

Aug. 2 is the deadline to raise the national debt limit or face default. Boehner's legislation, as well as the measure backed by Senate Democrats, faces stiff opposition.

Although Walden has a different perspective than Phillips and those accompanying her, his door is always open to all 2nd Congressional District patrons, observed Walden spokesman Andrew Whelan from Washington, D.C.

"Our office staff welcomed them — they always do when people want to voice their opinions," he said. "Their views and comments will be given to the congressman."

Walden, however, supports Boehner's bill because it would cut more than it would spend, he said.

"Rep. Walden has long been a supporter of the balanced budget amendment," Whelan said.

He described the GOP's goal as an effort to "cut spending and borrowing while putting people back to work."

Phillips has a different view.

"We support a balanced budget that decreases spending and increases taxes to the very rich — the one percent who aren't paying their fair share," she said following the visit to Walden's office.

"We need to do away with the Bush tax cuts for the very rich," she added.

Phillips described the staff in Walden's office as "very kind," but she expressed concern that the GOP effort would result in deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as in public-supported professions such as teachers and police officers.

"We need to see equity in our economic situation, not inequity," she said. "The small guys, the mom-and-pop shops, they are all struggling. It's rough out there."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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