Congresswoman Maxine Waters hosts community meeting on federal budget cuts

Hundreds of South LA residents gathered at Jesse Owens Park today to attend a community meeting on federal budget cuts hosted by Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Many in attendance work with community organizations that are at risk of losing funding because of federal budget cuts. Signs demanded everything from more jobs to more money for early childhood education or senior care.

Sunny skies and upbeat music lightened the mood, but there was no mistaking the serious subject matter—people were concerned about what these cuts will mean for them.

When Waters took the stage, she addressed the fiscal frustration in her opening statements: “We’re sick and tired of the mess that’s going on…we are not going to take these cuts sitting down.”

She saw the large and vocal crowd as a clear counter to the accusation that her district is quiet and complacent. “Nobody is going to do more for us than we do for ourselves,” Waters said.

Later, addressing the near shut down of the federal government the night before, Waters initially had good news. “The government is not going to shut down now. I don’t know if we deserve any applause for that, but we didn’t want the government to shut down. People are depending on their paychecks and services.”

But she cautioned that the stability would not last long. “We’re going to have to vote on Wednesday for the deal that was cut on the permanent continuant resolution through the end of the year.”

Waters encouraged her constituents to seek out information through the news and the internet so they would know exactly what was on the chopping block in the latest round of proposed cuts.

In addition to State Assemblymen Isadore Hall and LA City Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry, local government leaders from the surrounding cities of Carson, Lawndale, and Gardena also spoke.

Waters introduced local religious leaders as well as the heads of dozens of community organizations. Many encouraged residents to continue to band together as a community. Several stressed the importance of writing to senators and the president. There was also mention of the recent protests in Wisconsin and Ohio and the suggestion that California could be next.

Latisha Edwards works for the Training and Research Foundation Head Start Program in Inglewood. When asked why she came to the meeting, she pointed to her bright purple sign that read, “Head Start is the foundation of education.”

“My sign says it all,” she said. “Without education there is no future, and without a future, there’s nothing.”

House Republicans introduced a bill this month to reduce Head Start funding by $2 billion—nearly a quarter of President Obama’s 2011 budget request.

“We need funds for our kids because without those funds and education, how do you have doctors, lawyers, senators, governors, presidents?” Edwards continued. “How can our country be a leading country?”

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  1. The intractable spending budget debate in Washington has led Standard & Poor’s to lower the outlook on the long-term U.S. credit rating. While S&P placed long-term prospects in doubt, it left the current AAA U.S. credit rating intact. Investors and traders panicked on the news and stocks plummeted. I read this here: S&P enters budget debate by lowering U.S. credit rating outlook

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