February 15, 1995 in City

Proposed Cuts Protested Speakers Say Slashing Social Programs Is Not The Answer To Reducing Government Spending

By The Spokesman-Review

Mary Ann Murphy stood in the bitter cold Tuesday and stripped off her hat, her gloves, her coat and her scarf to demonstrate what she feels the government is doing to children of the United States.

Her stocking cap represented education; her mittens, vocational training. Her coat was symbolic of a family home and her two scarves were health and social services.

“If we take away all these things children need to grow, we will leave them shivering in the cold,” said Murphy, director of the Deaconess Regional Center for Child Abuse and Neglect.

More than 200 people hooted and cheered at Murphy’s theatrics during a freezing lunch-time rally in front of the U.S. Court House.

The rally was one of hundreds held simultaneously across the country. Churches, social workers and volunteers came together to protest the attack on government programs that help the needy.

Since last November’s election, when Republicans took control of both the state Legislature and Congress, many social service providers have feared cuts in the programs that serve the needy.

“They do not have the mandate to starve children,” shouted Linda Stone, chairwoman for the Washington State AntiHunger and Nutrition Coalition.

Without the protection of programs like welfare and food stamps, children will suffer, the speakers said.

On a state and national level, Republicans are proposing laws that would restrict the time period for which poor women can receive welfare, cut off benefits for bearing additional children and bar teenage parents from welfare.

“We believe it’s the job of the church and the community to take care of those needs,” said Doug Simpson, who works for Republican Clyde Ballard, speaker of the state House of Representatives. “We don’t believe it should be public policy.”

Speakers at Tuesday’s rally said cutting social programs is not the answer to reducing government spending.

“Starving kids, making them homeless and humiliating their mothers doesn’t sound like family values to me,” said Marlene Stewart, a board member of the Fair Budget Action Campaign.

Organizers urged people to write messages on paper plates, which were to be delivered to members of Congress from Washington.

They also encouraged onlookers to fill out postcards and mail them to their legislators.

Given the bitter cold, supporters said they were pleased with the turnout.

“We’re standing out in the cold so children and families won’t be left out in the cold,” said the Rev. John Olson, director of the Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries.

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