Beaufort News

Protesters target Wilson's Beaufort office over debt crisis

Joining a chorus of protesters nationwide, more than a dozen people gathered Tuesday outside U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's Beaufort field office to rally against the Republican Party's response to ongoing U.S. debt-limit negotiations.

In an email to members Tuesday, MoveOn.org said it and other organizations participating in the "American Dream" movement planned visits to local offices of every Republican representative.

"Republicans are holding the entire country hostage to protect tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy," MoveOn's letter to Beaufort-area members said. "It's irresponsible and unjustifiable. We need to be front and center demanding that Republicans end the debt ceiling crisis that they've created."

Protesters at Wilson's office on Port Republic Street said they support equitable tax reform and oppose Republican calls to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They held signs that read, "Don't balance the budget on the backs of seniors, the poor and the sick," and "Don't destroy Medicare and Social Security."

Wilson spokesman Neal Patel declined comment. Attempts Tuesday to reach a field office employee several hours after the protest were unsuccessful.

Republicans have pressed the president to agree to cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, benefit programs that Democrats have long protected, despite escalating costs that threaten their solvency. Almost one-third of the U.S. debt -- $4.59 trillion -- is in the form of IOUs dedicated to programs such as Social Security, Medicare and the pension plans for federal workers and military personnel.

Many outside Wilson's office were members of the Democratic Club of Sun City Hilton Head, said Paul Russo, club president.

Among them was Ruth Lee, who said Republicans appear unwilling to compromise.

"We need to raise the revenue," Lee said. "We need to raise taxes on the wealthy. It shouldn't sit on the backs of the poor and middle class."

The Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this report.

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