Group urges federal benefits protections, decries tax breaks outside Schiff's Burbank office

Roughly a dozen activists and union members gathered outside the Burbank office of Rep. Adam Schiff’s Wednesday, urging the congressman to protect federal health insurance programs, while blasting what they called the nation's “rigged tax system.”

Local constituents joined event-organizer American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations to protest cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, as well as tax loopholes for wealthy Americans.

“We need to have everybody pay their fair share of taxes — that includes the wealthy and corporations,” said Lenny Potash, an Atwater Village resident and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union retiree.

While Potash is financially stable — he lives off Social Security and his pension — he said he worries for his four children.

“My children are not in a very secure position either with their work or their retirement, and that concerns me,” he said.

In a statement, Schiff called Social Security “the most successful anti-poverty program in American history” and vowed to work to protect it, in addition to Medicare.

“We must not balance the budget on the backs of our seniors,” he said.

Still, Atwater Village resident Suzanne Winters called Schiff's efforts thus far “extremely weak.”

“I don’t believe he has a history of really standing up for working people,” she said.

For two decades of working as a legal secretary, Winters, 68, said she didn’t have health insurance. But throughout her career, she suffered from mood swings and suicidal thoughts, which ultimately made her “unemployable,” she said.

When she was let go, she found out she was bipolar. But medication costs her hundreds of dollars a month.

So three years ago when she qualified for federal health insurance programs, she said her life turned around.

“I felt I finally had a chance,” she said, in speaking out Wednesday against cuts to the programs.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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