holds vigil outside Sen. Burr’s Asheville office

Around two-dozen protesters gathered outside Senator Richard Burr’s Asheville office Monday evening for a candelight vigil organized by and the Western North Carolina Central labor Council/AFL-CIO. The vigil aimed to draw attention to what the protesters say are “tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.” According to a press release, the vigil was part of a coordinated nationwide event.

The following is a press release from

MoveOn members, labor rally to ask Republicans to stop holding the middle class hostage over tax cuts for the wealthy, and ask Democrats to protect social programs

In spite of rainy weather, some 30 MoveOn members and representatives of the Western North Carolina Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO joined forces today to protest Republican intransigence that could raise taxes for millions in the middle class in order to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. The protest in Asheville, which was one of dozens of similar events scheduled around the country, took place in front of the local office of Senator Richard Burr and called on him to stop threatening the middle class with a two-thousand-dollar tax increase, as well as cuts to vital social programs.

“Republicans are holding the middle class hostage during the fiscal negotiations in exchange for continuing a tax break for millionaires and billionaires,” said local MoveOn member Randy Bernard.

In exchange for a deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a series of tax increases and spending cuts due to begin on January 1 unless Congress acts, Republicans are also asking for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. “We’re here at Sen. Burr’s office today,” said Bernard, “but we also need (Democratic Senator) Kay Hagan to hold the line against continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and against any cuts in the big three social programs.

“Nothing happens to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits on January 1,” Bernard explained, “unless Republicans force painful cuts to beneficiaries in exchange for tax increases on the wealthy, which are going to happen anyway if Congress does nothing. So there’s literally no reason benefit cuts should be part of the discussion right now. Instead, we should be talking about jobs.”

The real crisis Americans want Congress to fix is getting people back to work, Bernard argued. Ending the tax cuts for the wealthy would generate about $823 billion more revenue, he said, “and with just a fraction of that $823 billion from the wealthiest 2%, we could create jobs for more than 20,000 veterans and pay for 300,000 teachers and 52,000 first responders which our communities so desperately need. That’s not to mention jobs from investing in clean energy and our national infrastructure.”

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