Chants of "Paul Ryan's sellin' snake oil and we're not buyin'" filled the noon time air outside a hotel in Normal today. Willis Kern reports.
About fifty people protested Congressman Paul Ryan's fundraising visit to Normal today. The Wisconsin Republican was the keynote speaker at a $100 a plate luncheon fundraiser for likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Ryan has proposed a budget critics say shreds the social safety net with deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other areas. Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon doesn't like the proposed elimination of Pell Grants for college students.
"And that means 400,000 people across the United States have less of an opportunity to get an education, to earn a living to support themselves and I fundamentally disagree with that. I think that is fundamentally wrong, fundamentally opposed to the ideals that our country was founded on."
Ryan never saw the protesters, which included Barbara Franklin with the Alliance for Retired Americans. She criticized Ryan, whose budget proposal has been picked apart by those who say the most vulnerable will be hit hard by cuts to social programs.
"The Romney-Ryan budget would be a disaster for seniors and the average working family. We're here to say we won't stand for it. Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, I hope you hear us loud and clear. Hands off Medicare, hands off health care reform."
Mary Bechtel of Illinois People's Action, a faith-based group, says she's offended by Ryan's contention his budget is consistent with Catholic social teaching. She says draconian cuts in meals for low-income people, Headstart preschool slots, and eliminating healthcare for 1.5 million Illinois residents is not consistent with community and faith values. Ryan was unavailable for comment during his visit.
Listen to Mary Bechtel lead the protesters in an open-mic chant.
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