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Demonstrators urge Cravaack to back their ‘contract’

Proponents of saving Social Security expressed concern about government cuts at 1 / 2
Perry Nouis (left), manager of Rep. Chip Cravaack’s constituent services office 2 / 2

Nearly 30 area residents demonstrated outside of Rep. Chip Cravaack’s office during Wednesday’s noon hour urging the first-term Republican to work for a 10-point agenda entitled the Contract for American Dream.

The event, organized locally by Terry Sluss, a retired educator and former Crow Wing County commissioner, was sponsored on national level by, unions and a senior caucus. 

Sluss and a few of the demonstrators presented Perry Nouis, manager of Cravaack’s constituent services office in Brainerd, with their contract at Brainerd City Hall.

The 10-point contract’s main points are: Invest in America, create 21st century energy jobs, invest in public education, offer Medicare for all, make work pay, secure Social Security, return to fairer tax rates, end the wars and invest at home, tax Wall Street speculation and strengthen democracy.

Nouis accepted literature on the contract and said he’d share it with the congressman.

The exchange between Nouis and Sluss, the DFL candidate for Senate District 12 in 2006, started with the DFLer’s admission that he agreed with Republicans who say the nation has a spending problem.

“The rich aren’t spending and the poor don’t have any money to spend,” Sluss said. “Bottom up is the way to get jobs. 

Cravaack has “got it wrong,” Sluss said in his support of a trickle-down recovery.

Nouis countered the U.S. has to fix its business environment, which has made it attractive to move plants overseas. The factors behind the current climate, Nouis said, were high taxes, over-regulation and high labor costs. He said corporate taxes needed to be lowered.

While agreeing with demonstrators that America’s infrastructure needed work, he criticized the federal stimulus program as too expensive. He said each of the estimated jobs cost taxpayers $278,000.

Outside of city hall, Sluss said he’s worried about the next generation’s prospects of collecting Social Security. While he agrees with President Barack Obama’s contention that everything should be on the table, Sluss wants the federal government to look at eliminating tax dodgers and increasing tax rates for the top 1 percent of wage earners. He also suggested setting tax incentives for businesses that hire the unemployed.

Trix Wyant, 75, a longtime DFL activist in Aitkin County and a self-described middle class Democrat, said she attended the demonstration because she thinks the 2012 elections are going to be very important. She said she was a supporter of DFLer Rick Nolan for Congress in the 8th District.

“We either stand up and get the job done or it’s going to be a very interesting future,” she said.

In the news release announcing the demonstration, the event organizers expressed criticism of the recent debt deal that raised the nation’s debt ceiling. They said it did nothing to create jobs, forced deep cuts to important programs that protect the middle class, asked nothing of big corporations and millionaires and opened the door to cutting Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid benefits.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at or 855-5860.