By Matthew Reichbach
A rally of about 150 people in downtown Albuquerque called for the federal government to stop cutting services and instead focus on jobs. The rally, one of hundreds across the nation organized by the progressive organization MoveOn.Org, was given a shot in the arm by the recent debate in Congress over spending.
The event was a kickoff of sorts according to Greg Sandoval, a regional organizer for MoveOn.org and one of the organizers of the rally. A number of progressive organizations unveiled the “Contract for the American Dream” this week. The contract is “ten critical steps to get our economy back on track,” which includes investing in America’s infrastructure, ending the wars in the Middle East and securing social security.
Sandoval said the number one thing that people at the rally wanted was to work.
“They want a strong America,” Sandoval said in an interview with Clearly New Mexico. “They don’t want to be collecting unemployment. They don’t want to be on welfare. People want to work.”
While many speakers focused on what they believed Congress and President Barack Obama should do, State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, gave an example of something he thinks should be done during the upcoming special session.
Ortiz y Pino says that the legislature should pass the severance tax bond issue but only include projects that would create New Mexican jobs.
“We should only be spending that money this year on things that put New Mexicans to work,” Ortiz y Pino told the crowd. “They want to work. They’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of talent, we’ve got to get them back to work.”
Ortiz y Pino gave an example of “software programs put together by a consulting company in another state” as an example of something that the legislature would take out of the severance tax bond issue.
“It’s a small step, but when we start taking enough small steps, we’re actually going to turn this thing around and make the American dream realizable once again,” Ortiz y Pino said.
State Senator Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, spoke to the crowd and invoked former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR, who presided over the United States emergence from the Great Depression.
“What FDR said, and he said it in pretty clear terms, was we cannot turn our government over to corporations,” Griego said to cheers from the crowd.
Griego also said that government has a role in rebuilding the economy.
“When times are tough, you don’t turn government away from people,” Griego declared. “You turn government and public servants towards people. You put them to work by rebuilding the economy. By rebuilding our roads and our schools and our bridges and our green infrastructure.”
Homemade signs at rally echoed the statements of many of the speakers.
One, held by a charter school teacher fresh off of his first day of classes, said that the government should be funding “schools, health care, jobs — not the war machine!”