With 22 days remaining before $600 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in, demonstrators flocked Monday morning to U.S. Congressman Randy Hultgren's office in Geneva to tell Hultgren to keep Medicare and Social Security off the table.
"I'm just totally irritated that somehow the fiscal bump in the road has become a fiscal cliff," said Jean Pierce of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva. "And I'd Hultgren to understand that there are a lot of seniors in his district who vote."
Demonstrators discussed a range of issues, from wind energy to the state of the economy to election promises, but the primary issue centered on protecting Medicare and Social Security in the context of lawmakers' solutions to the pending, so-called fiscal cliff.
The "Fiscal Showdown" event in Geneva was one of more than 160 similar events taking places across the nation Monday and promoted by MoveOn.org, one of the largest political action committees in the country.
Carrying signs that said "Protect Medicare Security for the Elderly," "Austerity Doesn't Work" and "Be Brave, Don't Cave," about 40 people demonstrated peacefully front of Hultgren's office, without any counter rally or statements from Hultgren's staff.
The local rally was put together by Mary Shesgreen of the Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice, an organization that supported a similar action at Sen. Dick Dubin's office on Dec. 6. Today's event was titled "Tax the Wealthy to Fix the Deficit."
Protesters spoke in turn, offering reasons they were attending the rally, which began at around 10 a.m.
"We need to get wage equality," said one Geneva resident. "What we're doing now with the CEOs getting 200 times what the person on the factory floor gets is ridiculous. It didn't used to be like that. We need to change it."
"I'm a working cement mason, and I would like to keep working," one woman said. "The last couple years have been pretty shaky for me as far as construction work, which is in the toilet, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and I want to continue to see the light at the end of the tunnel."
"I depend on my 401K, and on my Social Security and Medicare, and I don't think of those two things as entitlements," another woman said. "Those are things I've been paying for."
President Barack Obama met privately with House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday at the White House, but Obama set out Monday on a campaign-style rally to tour Daimler's Detroit Diesel Corporation in Michigan, according to CBS News.