Only 15 feet of grass separated dueling protesters Tuesday outside the office of U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona. |
In other ways, the groups were worlds apart.
On one side, about 30 supporters of Action Now chanted, "How do you fix the deficit? Tax, tax, tax the rich!"
"That's their answer for everything," said Neil Anderson, one of about 20 counter-protesters who supported Rep. Schilling. "That's been tried before, and it never worked and it never will."
Mr. Anderson is a Moline firefighter and a Republican candidate for state representative in District 72.
Within the Action Now group, there was a sense of injustice that -- in their eyes -- the wealthy are not being asked to pay their fair share while Republicans consider cutting social programs intended to help those who can't help themselves.
"He (Rep. Schilling) needs to look out for the little person and not just the lucky," said Susan Troutwine, of Rock Island. "I'm tired of the wealthy getting everything."
Ms. Troutwine said the government pays her for about seven of the 16 hours a day she helps a disabled person. She said she's worried that her pay will be cut, and she wants Rep. Schilling to protect her and her client.
If her home-help assistance is cut, Ms. Troutwine said, her client would have to go to a nursing home, costing taxpayers even more.
"This is what democracy looks like," she and her fellow protesters chanted.
Paula DeWild, of Milan, disagreed, saying a street protest in support of government spending was not what democracy looks like.
"The American Dream is about capitalism," she said, "And standing, waiting for the government to take care of you, is not democracy."
Action Now, who organized Tuesday's protest, directed its ire at the House Republican budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 that would cut spending on social programs such as Medicare while reducing the top rate of income tax.
The bill, which the group said Rep. Schilling supports, lacks support in the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Barack Obama has called the plan "thinly veiled social Darwinism."
According to its website, Action Now's mission is to organize working families and strengthen their voices on issues of racial, social and economic justice. Tamiko Edwards, of Peoria, said it began in Chicago and now is trying to make inroads in Peoria, Galesburg and the Quad-Cities.
"We are basically down here to say that the 1 percenters need to pay their fair share," she said.
Rep Schilling was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, a spokesman said.
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