Cuts that hurt poor focus of Bangor rally, march

Posted June 18, 2012, at 10:38 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A rally and march Saturday to protest budget cuts to state and federal programs that serve poor people drew about 100 people to Bangor, organizers said Sunday.

The rally took place at Peirce Park, the site of last fall’s Occupy Bangor encampment.

At issue were recent cuts to government social programs that protesters said were directly linked to tax cuts for the wealthy and a Pentagon budget that they said consumes half of the federal budget.

During the rally, Ilze Petersons, director of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, said state tax cuts for those earning more than $363,000 a year almost equaled the amount of cuts in state social services.

Other speakers linked the cuts in social services to a series of tax cuts for the wealthy that date back to the 1950s.

Dennis Chinoy of Bangor blamed funding reductions for social programs on what he called a “mythical being” named “Job Creator,” who only creates jobs when “low taxes make him happy.” He said the being “feeds on the money that would otherwise provide food stamps for the hungry, unemployment insurance for those without work, housing for those in need of it, medical care for those who are ill, and critical assistance for the disabled and destitute.”

He also said there was less unemployment in the 1950s — when the wealthiest

Americans paid a tax rate of 90 percent — than today, when the top tax rate is 35 percent.

Other speakers criticized what they saw as the shortsightedness of state cuts to health care. The cuts, they said, will end up costing the state more in the long run because they will result in less federal support and drive those left without health insurance into more costly care options, such as emergency rooms.

Protesters then marched to the offices of Bangor organizations affected by state cuts.

In addition to the Peace and Justice Center, the protest was sponsored by H.O.M.E. Co-op, Maine Association of Interdependent Neighborhoods, Maine Equal Justice Program, Food AND Medicine, Power in Community Alliances, Consumer Council System of Maine and Occupy Bangor.