Occupy DC protesters hold mock committee hearing

WASHINGTON — Sitting under the open air on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, Occupy D.C. protesters held a mock hearing on how to create a fair economy for most Americans — a contrast, protesters said, to Capitol Hill hearings that they said work to enrich the nation’s top 1 percent of earners.

Protesters staged Wednesday’s event on Pennsylvania Avenue’s Freedom Plaza to coincide with ongoing meetings of the so-called congressional “supercommittee,” a bipartisan panel of lawmakers charged with creating a plan by Nov. 23 to cut the federal debt over the next decade.

At Freedom Plaza, some speakers talked about Social Security and health care, while others spoke about the military budget and U.S. foreign policy.

Kevin Zeese, an organizer of Occupy D.C., said protesters weren’t stuck on political labels.

“We are going to be critical to Democrats as well as Republicans,” he said. “We are hearing about the cuts, but they are not going (to be) the main cuts on military or increase the tax for the 1 percent.”

Andrew Fieldhouse of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, who served as a committee member in the mock hearing, discussed how to raise revenue through changes to the tax structure to create a more fair and progressive tax system that, he said, would raise sufficient revenue and help close the growing wealth divide.

Fieldhouse said that tax policy should be used to alter the market distribution of income to temper inequality and alleviate poverty, and to address issues such as pollution. Tax reform must raise significantly more revenue in the coming decades, he said.

“America is not broke,” Fieldhouse said. “We can afford an economic security program, public investments and a series of jobs programs.” Carl Conetta, co-director of the liberal Project on Defense Alternatives, another member of the mock “supercommittee,” said foreign policy should be used to reduce military spending.

“Despite all the spending, war on terrorism has grown bigger and the security situation is worse,” Conetta said. “We have involved ourselves everywhere and now there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

The mock committee members stressed the need to revive the economy saying budget cuts will affect senior citizens as well as youth, a generation of which has been affected by the economic instability because of the lack of employment.

(Mussadaq is a reporter at The Express Tribune Islamabad, Pakistan. She is reporting for The McClatchy Washington Bureau in partnership with the International Center for Journalists. The program is funded by the U.S. State Department).


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