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Seattle urges Obama: Fight for good jobs, protect safety nets

SEATTLE — Hundreds of citizens gathered outside President Barack Obama’s fundraiser Sunday at the Paramount Theater to urge the president to prioritize job creation, fair taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and protecting social safety nets as the economy continues to struggle. Waving signs urging Obama to “Protect Social Security and Medicare,” “Create Good Jobs – Tax the Rich,” and “Support Good Jobs – Legalize Immigrant Workers,” the crowd wasn’t protesting the president, but rather urging him to do even more on these issues, many of which are included in his recently proposed jobs bill.

“We applaud President Obama’s focus on jobs, taxing the rich, and recognizing the dire straits of state and local governments,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, one of several organizations participating in the demonstration. “We would only suggest that working people have an appetite and a need for more: a significantly larger jobs package, federal funding to close recession-induced state budget deficits, improvements to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, and a revenue system that requires the rich and corporate America to pay at least as much as they did during President Reagan’s administration to fund the common good.”

Other community and labor organizations participating in Sunday’s demonstration included the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, Casa Latina, Washington CAN!, UNITE HERE Local 8, UFCW Local 21, OneAmerica, and Washington YELL (Young Emerging Labor Leaders).

“In these very difficult economic times, the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans want to communicate our support for the president’s efforts to create good jobs and the necessity to be even more ambitious in this effort,” said PSARA President Robby Stern. “We call for tax fairness with the rich paying their fair share, no cuts, but instead improvements to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the fair and compassionate treatment of immigrants to this country who are fleeing desperate economic conditions in their countries of origin.”

By large margins, Americans have told pollsters that job creation is more important than budget cuts. Yet Republican leaders in Congress have pursued an agenda to cut government programs, raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare, and force austerity measures onto states by defunding Medicaid and other important programs.

Demonstrators at Sunday’s event in Seattle wanted to applaud the president’s recent efforts to resist that agenda and instead focus on jobs and protecting social safety nets. They also urged that the White House continue to press — but more aggressively — for comprehensive immigration reform, one of Obama’s 2008 campaign promises.

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