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Tampa protesters: Save the middle class

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 11:18 AM
TAMPA -

Dustin Ponder is only 25, but he's worried about his retirement.

He doesn't want politicians cutting into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He says government should keep those programs solvent by eliminating tax loopholes that favor the wealthy and corporations.

"We need to protect these programs, especially with the assault on pensions," said Ponder, a Temple Terrace resident who works part time for UPS and is a union member.

"How will I survive without a pension or Social Security?" Ponder asked. "I think they're trying to turn the clock back."

Ponder was one of about 40 people who attended a press conference Wednesday afternoon outside Sen. Marco Rubio's Tampa office near the University of South Florida.

Participants urged lawmakers not to cut programs that support the middle class and poor. Similar events organized by the Americans for Tax Fairness were held around the country.

Kevin King, state political director for PICO United Florida, said he's concerned about the federal debt. But any action by lawmakers to reduce the national debt shouldn't overly impact the nation's workers, he said.

"We have to be sensible," King said. "Decreasing our deficit shouldn't come at the expense of the middle class."

The program brought several groups to the event, including Florida Consumer Action Network, MoveOn.org, PICO and the AFL-CIO. This week MoveOn.org will present a petition signed by 7,200 Floridians to Sen. Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson urging them not to support cutbacks to programs that favor the middle class.

King warned that cutbacks don't equal growth.

"There is no country that cut its way to prosperity," King said.


jpatino@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7659 Twitter: @jpatinoTBO
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