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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Contact: Kristi Barnes 718.755.5136

Rep. Grimm Urged to Pitch in and Support Care, Not Cuts for New Yorkers

As “Budget Showdown” looms in Congress, Advocates on Staten Island Call for Care, Job Creation, and Protection of Lifeline Programs

Faith, Senior, Occupy Sandy Recovery and other Activists Come Together to Work on Storm and Longer-Term Economic Recovery

Staten Island, NY—Dozens of activists rallied and called upon U.S. Representative Michael Grimm to take a stand in Congress for care, not cuts. Standing in front of Grimm’s Staten Island office in New Dorp, just blocks away from Sandy relief and recovery efforts, the activists demanded that Grimm support job creation and a caring economy, and prevent potentially devastating cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid that provide a lifeline to seniors, people with disabilities, Sandy victims, and poor and working class New Yorkers.

Representatives are returning to Washington to debate the federal budget and the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the automatic budget cuts and expiration of tax cuts that will go into effect on January 1, 2013 if Congress fails to act and craft a plan that reduces the federal deficit.

The NY Care Council organized the event to draw attention to the impact current proposals at the federal level would have on New York’s economy, and the disproportionate impact the proposed cuts would have on seniors, people with disabilities, and the workers who provide them care and support.

“The recent election results show that people don’t want our representatives to make a ‘grand bargain’ that sells out our social safety net while refusing to ask the most wealthy Americans to contribute their fair share,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, an organizer with ALIGN. “We want a fair deal that preserves vital programs and speeds the economic recovery.”

Congressman Grimm has been supportive of across-the-board cuts to domestic programs and an extension of tax breaks for the rich. The activists raised concerns that if Congress fails to act, nearly a billion dollars would be cut from FEMA nationally, and other cuts would harm programs vital to New York City residents. A recent report from the Manhattan Borough President’s office estimates hundreds of millions in cuts to NYC social services, education, housing, and transportation funding, including $19 million cut from WIC, $2.5 million cut from HIV testing, $2 million cut from workforce development programs, $100 million cut from NYCHA, and $28 million cut from the MTA expansion. The activists predicted the loss of thousands of jobs at a time when New Yorkers are still struggling with high unemployment.

Wayne Stark, a senior and grandfather living with HIV/AIDS, who relies on Medicare, Medicaid and SSD, spoke out at the rally.

“Last Tuesday should have been a wake up call for Congressman Grimm,” said Wayne Starks, board member of VOCAL New York, “across the country and especially here in New York, the people sent a clear message to tax the rich and protect our healthcare system.”

Reverend Dr. Demetrius Carolina, Sr. of First Baptist Church in Stapleton, acknowledged how Rep. Grimm rolled up his sleeves and supported victims of Sandy, but emphasized he had much more work to do to show he cares for all Staten Islanders.

“Cutting lifeline funding for the elderly, sick, disabled, poor and most vulnerable among us is immoral in a short-term crisis like Sandy–and in the larger economic crisis we struggle to leave behind,” said Rev. Dr. Demetrius Carolina, Sr. “Our budgets reflect our priorities as a society and cutting money to the social safety net in a time like this is incredibly inappropriate—we need more care and less cuts.”

Occupy Sandy Recovery volunteers were also on hand to help with the relief effort on Staten Island and to emphasize the longer-term recovery efforts that all of New York City should prioritize.

“This storm has shown that when people care, they can work together—despite political and other differences—to meet an incredible challenge,” said Rachel Schragis, a member of Jews United for Racial and Economic Justice and an Occupy Sandy Recovery volunteer coordinator. “We need our elected officials to stand with us to continue building a caring economy, based on mutual aid, respect and fairness.”

The rally closed with chanting and calls on Rep. Grimm to ask all Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, prioritize job creation, prevent cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the social safety net, and work for a balanced solution that stops the automatic cuts scheduled for 2013.

ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York’s mission is to create good jobs, vibrant communities, and an accountable democracy for all New Yorkers. Our work unites worker, community, and other allies to build a more just and sustainable New York.

Caring Across Generations is a campaign for quality care and support, and a dignified quality of life for all Americans, across generations. The New York Care Council is building a coalition of community, worker, elder, faith-based, disability, policy and advocacy organizations and individuals committed to justice, dignity and high-quality care for both care givers and those receiving care.