Protests clash outside Gibson office
Groups spar over debt bill vote
SARATOGA SPRINGS People in favor of and opposed to U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson’s vote to raise the nation’s debt limit exchanged heated words Tuesday afternoon during demonstrations outside the congressman’s district office.
City police were called to clear the sidewalks where about 30 people were gathered in two groups near the 513 Broadway office. There were no arrests.
Gibson, R-Kinderhook, voted Monday in support of the Budget Control Act of 2011, legislation that raises the nation’s debt limit but imposes a $2.1 trillion spending cut over the next decade.
“Gibson does not represent the middle class, his constituents,” said Sharon McFarlane of MoveOn.org. She and other members of the Saratoga chapter of liberal-leaning organization criticized his vote, maintaining Gibson is beholden to large corporations and millionaires who contributed to his campaign.
At one point, demonstrators critical of Gibson exchanged shouted words with demonstrators who support his stance in Washington. Gibson supporters held up signs saying they support Gibson’s attempts to “cut, cap, and balance” federal spending.
Among the Gibson supporters was Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman John “Jasper” Nolan.
“The debt deal will force deep cuts to important programs that protect the middle class but asks nothing of big corporations and millionaires,” said a MoveOn.org statement distributed by McFarlane and Michele Feinstein, both of Saratoga Springs.
Ed Brown of Clifton Park said that he supports Gibson in his attempts at cutting federal spending but he is not happy about the bipartisan bill passed Monday night in the House of Representatives.
“I want cuts,” Brown said. “We are spending more than we take in.
“There are no [spending] cuts in the bill, just reducing the rate of growth,” he said.
“I want a balanced budget amendment,” said Helen Sciartelli of Ballston Spa, who said she strongly supports Gibson’s efforts to achieve a balanced budget.
Sciartelli said that if a balanced budget amendment had been part of this week’s Budget Control Act, she would have been much happier with the legislation, which was also passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
“This evening, after careful review, I voted yes on the final compromise agreement to avert our current debt crisis while cutting spending,” Gibson said Monday about the Budget Control Act.
“The legislation cuts $2.1 trillion in spending, while protecting Medicare and Social Security,” he said in a prepared statement.
“To be clear, my preferred approach was the cut, cap, and balance act,” Gibson said. “However, I believe the final agreement embodies those principles, and makes significant changes that will put us on a path of restoring fiscal responsibility.”
“Chris Gibson and other Republicans in Washington held our whole economy hostage simply to advance their ideological agenda,” said Feinstein.
Gibson supporters counter that the MoveOn.org demonstrators support spending practices in Washington that will bankrupt the nation.
Capt. Michael Chowske of the city Police Department said police were called to Broadway during the demonstrations because some people were blocking the entrances to businesses. He said the shouting match did not last long and never became physical.