Durbin Asked to Reaffirm Liberal Values

Elected officials addressed senior citizens and Occupy Chicago fighting cuts to social safety net programs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In front of more than 400 seniors rallying with Occupy Chicago, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin slammed the Tea Party, the Republican Party and said it's no time to mess with Medicare and Medicaid.

    But for at least one Occupy Chicago organizer, that wasn't good enough.

    Reverend Patrick Daymond, who helped organize the Monday march, asked Senator Durbin reaffirm a list of liberal values by signing a values document.

    Durbin declined.

    "I have to go to the airport," Durbin said, trying to avoid the confrontation. "I don't sign pledges."

    Durbin returned moments later to voice an endorsement for the values statement,  pledging his support to oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

    "We're in this together. We want to make Social Security longer and stronger. We've got to keep Medicare where it's at and stay and stand by Medicaid," said Durbin, who said the Republican Party believes "we are in this alone."

    Durbin joined congressmen Danny Davis, Mike Quigley and Jan Schakowsky as well as city alderman and community organizers at the Monday morning protest against potential federal cuts to the nation's social safety net.

    "Get your hands off social security," Davis said. "Get your hands off Medicare. Don't mess with Medicaid. We will fight until the very last drop of energy."

    Senior groups, housing activists and healthcare coalitions attended the rally, spearheaded by the Jane Addams Senior Caucus. The protests come as a Congressional super committee meets behind closed doors to decide how to cut $1.2 billion in federal spending by Nov. 23.

    "The Democrats and Republicans on the powerful super committees have both proposed devastating cuts to the social safety net," said Katie Jordan, a spokesperson for the Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans.

    "Cuts to these critical programs will not only hurt these seniors but their children, and their children's children," Jordan said.

    Occupy Chicago joined the rally, and chants of "We are the 99 percent!" rang out through the crowd.

    Seniors in attendance echoed community leaders, expressing frustration that their contributions to society might not be repaid. Charlie Jordan, 68, a retired corrections officer at Stateville Correctional Center, said he doesn't want to see his pension cut any more.

    "Man, we worked for that," said Jordan, who worked at the maximum security prison for 18 years.

    "For me, my son, his kids, they wouldn't be able to buy a bike let alone a car or a house. Guys who are retiring now who were working there for 30 years are getting less than I do."