SEATTLE - U.S. House Democrats are having a public get-together on Saturday in Seattle, as part of a national tour by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). South Seattle is the only stop in the state for the tour, but it might be enough to give the CPC representatives an earful while they're here. Washington Congressman Jim McDermott (Dist. 7) and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison say they want to hear people talk about how they have been affected by the economy.
April Sims, legislative and political action field coordinator with the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), says she'll be there, although she's a little concerned that the discussion will veer into the hot topic of raising the federal debt ceiling.
"For most folks, this is the first time they've ever even heard about the debt ceiling. We get lost in this idea of the debt ceiling, instead of talking about how real folks are affected by the decisions that they're making in Washington, and how we really need to focus on investing in jobs."
Sims says WFSE is encouraging its members to speak their minds at the listening session. The state of Washington has not been through anything like the budget battles in Minnesota, where the state government literally shut down for 20 days this month, but she says the combination of federal and state cutbacks has taken a toll.
"Our members have seen lots of layoffs. They've agreed to a 3-percent pay reduction over the next two years, to pay their fair share, to help balance the budget in the state of Washington. It's really the folks who rely on the services who are struggling."
Since June, Congressional Progressive Caucus members have been canvassing the country hosting listening sessions. The CPC is proposing a plan to balance the federal budget through defense spending cuts and taxes, mostly on people at higher incomes. It has not seen much traction in the budget debate, and it has been criticized for not addressing health-care costs.
Doors open at 11:30 on Saturday for the listening session, called the "Speak Out for Good Jobs Now Tour," at the Brockey Conference Center at South Seattle Community Center, 6000 16th Ave. SW, Seattle. The session starts at noon.