700 NYC Youth Go to Washington: Fiscal Policies on Their Minds

By Maurice Pinzon
On July 23 about 700 youths from New York awoke early in the morning to participate in a trip to Washington D.C. for the “Rock the House and Hill Youth Rally.î The youths, ranging in age from 10 to their early 20ís, went to the nationís capital to protest their exclusion from the benefits of the Child Tax Credit.

The scope of their argument seems to have grown on their way to Washington. They carried signs in front of the White House that asked President George Bush to redirect tax cuts from the wealthy to people who need the money more. Then the children and young adults went to Capitol Hill, where they called on Congress to reverse the trend. Afterwards they met with representatives from the offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton.

The experience was still fresh on the minds of two participants who spoke to New York News Network yesterday over the telephone.

Jocelyn Parson, 16 said she got up at 3:30 a.m. for the trip. When asked what issue she had protested, she said, “George Bush gave 936 thousand million dollars to all the wealthy, but low income people only get $100.”

If the figures were a little hard to grasp, the issue was straightforward in her mind. “Low income people need a lot of money” because, as Jocelyn said, “every child should be able to have a normal child life. They shouldnít have to struggle.” Of the Presidentís tax policies so far, Jocelyn said she thought the following would happen: “The tax cuts, cuts programs and activities for youth, education.”

Virgil Sancer, 17, who wants to study law when he graduates from high school, said he went to Washington “to tell the staff that we’re getting hurt by the tax cuts.” Virgil also thought the money would not go to those who most needed it: “We’re not benefiting,” he said. Then he added, “The money is not going to youth programs.” Instead money “should go for the people that really need it to survive,” Virgil said. He even had an idea of how the money might be spent. “The wealthy are getting money to buy yachts and Mercedes,” he said.

According to White House spokesman Ken Lisaius, President Bush has gone on record in support of the expansions of the child tax credit. President Bush “has asked Congress to work together to resolve their differences and pass the tax credit,” Mr. Lisaius said. He referred to a speech given by President Bush in Philadelphia on July 23.

On that day President Bush said: “One of the things that’s important is that tax relief helps people from all walks of life. And one of the things I’ve asked Congress to do, by the way, is to help low-income familiesÖby making more of the child credit refundable. The benefits of the Jobs and Growth Act should be as broad as possible, should be widespread throughout our society. The House and the Senate have passed different versions of extending the child credit. They’ve got to resolve their differences and get it to my desk as quickly as possible, so people can get additional help.”

Jocelyn appears ready to hold President Bush to his word. She said, “We will be back next year until he [President Bush] does something about this.”

Sandra Trujillo, Deputy Director of the Children’s Defense Fund in New York, seemed to agree that other children who went on the trip felt the same way. She said that the children told “deeply personal stories, they demanded that their leaders in Washington ‘Invest in Us!’ particularly stressing the importance of their youth programs for themselves, their friends, their brothers and sisters, and their communities.”

Ms. Trujillo said the “Rock the House and the Hill” put a face on the injustice of excluding 12 million children, including 800,000 in New York, from receiving the Child Tax Credit checks that went in the mail on Friday, July 25th.”

For more information about how to join this youth program to “Leave No Child Behind,” contact Sandra Trujillo at 212-697-2323 or email her at strujillo@cdfny.org.

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