Unemployed Activists Lobby Super Committee Members On Budget Cuts

Ginger Heatter had a full scholarship to Cornell and was working on her master’s degree when the economy tanked.

It was quite an accomplishment for the New Jersey resident. She had dropped out of high school, married young and had a daughter at 21. Before the economic crisis, she thought she had her life on track: she got her GED, a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. Now she’s been unemployed for a year and not sure of what the future holds for her and her 15-year-old daughter.“This was not the way it was supposed to work out,” Heatter told TPM.

Heatter was one of several unemployed workers who linked up with MoveOn.org on Wednesday to lobby members of the “super committee” not to make budget cuts which could make their situations even worse.

Following a “Jobs Not Cuts” rally outside the Capitol building, four groups of about a half-dozen people wandered the halls of the Senate’s office buildings, visiting the politicians who’ll decide where the budget axe lands.

Job applications in hand, the group TPM embedded with made their first stop at the office of Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who as it happened was on the floor of the Senate speaking about trade agreements he claimed would create 250,000 new jobs. The unemployed activists watched his speech on a flat screen in the lobby of his office, some of them sucking on Dum Dum lollipops out of a big glass jar.

A few minutes later, a legislative aide emerged to meet with the activists in a conference room. The three reporters that tagged along weren’t allowed in the meeting. But those who were inside said the Portman staffer was sympathetic, even if the Senator didn’t agree with their solution.

“I hoped to get a better response,” Tiffany Mellers, an unemployed and uninsured Army reservist from Bridgeport, Connecticut told TPM. “They said ‘we have to cut’,” adding that she would have liked to see the Senator support Obama’s jobs plan.

Heatter said it was the sort of response you’d expect, with the staffer saying that jobs were a priority for Portman. It had been a busy few weeks for Heatter: she had been in New York City for the first night of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, bringing a sleeping bag along and camping out in the park because she didn’t want to take the train back to New Jersey late at night. Today, she’ll be there for the first day of “Occupy DC” in a park near the White House.

“It’s still important for us to tell our stories,” she said. “It’s valuable for them to hear it.”

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