Jobs protest staged outside Ellmers' office

Posted August 10, 2011 3:38 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2011 7:17 p.m. EDT

— Demonstrators picketed the Dunn office of 2nd District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers on Wednesday, calling for more federal spending to create jobs.

The debt-ceiling deal Congress passed last week is expected to cut more than $1 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years, and Ellmers says those cuts are just the beginning.

"We wanted much more. We know we needed much more, but we can still continue to cut spending," the freshman Republican said in an interview with WRAL News.

Congressional leaders are appointing a 12-member bipartisan committee to find an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts by the end of this year.

About two dozen demonstrators said they wanted to persuade Ellmers to change her hawkish stance on the U.S. deficit. The nation has a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis, they said, and more spending, such as a public works program to rebuild roads, bridges and schools, could create jobs.

"(We need) something like FDR did back in the 1930s, when he had his Works Progress (Administration) program," said Rohima Miah, a member of the liberal group MoveOn.org. "He put people back to work, and certainly we say we're not in a depression like the 1930s, so why can't we do it now?"

Miah helped organize the protest, along with the AFL-CIO and other left-leaning groups. They argued that the debt-ceiling legislation keeps taxes low for corporations and the wealthy by cutting services that help low- and middle-income people.

"They should be standing up saying, 'Tax the rich. Make them pay their fair share,'" demonstrator Agnes Batts said of Congress.

Ellmers wasn't at her office, but she said in a written statement that "I disagree deeply" with the protesters while respecting their opinions.

"Since I first began my campaign for office, I have vowed to put our fiscal house in order and put an end to the wasteful spending that has crippled our economy and brought on the economic nightmare we are now witnessing," she said in the statement.

She maintains that tax increases hurt job creation more than help it, noting the increases proposed by President Barack Obama would target business owners. 

"The only jobs the government creates are government jobs, which the taxpayer pays for," she said. "We have to create private-sector jobs."