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Lawton activists protest as fiscal cliff approaches

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LAWTON Okla_ Local political activists braved the cold today, trying to get a message out there about the ongoing deficit debate in Washington.

Fiscal cliff or not, they say their social security, medicare and Medicaid are off limits. They want tax cuts extended to the lower and middle classes. They were collecting signatures today to submit to Washington to make sure the government doesn't take away anything they feel they deserve as citizens.

The activists are all part of an organization called "Move On". It's a non-partisan, national organization that promotes progressive thinking.

Monday's rally was dual-purposed. Besides expressing concern for the financial state of our nation, these activists wanted to give a big public thank you to Oklahoma Republican Representative Tom Cole for going against the grain of his party, and agreeing to work with the president to protect the middle and lower classes.

Among those rallying was Donna Bebo, Democratic Congressional Nominee. Concern about the lower and middle classes during rough economic times brought her to the curb.

"I think that across the political spectrum, people agree that we need to extend tax cuts for working Americans," Bebo said. "I think that where we get into the division is whether or not we should extend those to the upper 2%. My concern is the working Americans are being held hostage while we try to work out that one detail that we don't agree on."

The rapidly approaching fiscal cliff has Lee Wendtee, a Move On member, thinking about the poor and how they'll fare after the potential fall.

"We have forgotten them," Wendtee said. "They've all been kind of discarded, like we don't really care about them. We expect the churches to take care of them but they don't, and there's no one there. It's the responsibility of the government to take care of its citizens."

Finally, these activists feel as though an Oklahoma congressman stepped out of his comfort zone to stand up for those struggling financially. Tom Cole has taken some heat from his republican party for going against the grain. On CNN's political round table show "State of the Union" yesterday, Cole explained his stance.

"They expect me to continue to fight for everybody's taxes to continue to not go up, but if I get a deal that protects 98% of them and leaves me free to continue the fight, they would say take that deal. That's progress. That's maybe working together across the aisle a little bit to get it done."

These activists said Cole's actions are an example of compromise, something they say this bi-partisan system is lacking. Even though Donna Bebo opposed him politically, she's encouraged that they see eye to eye here. She considers Representative Cole's opinions and actions courageous.

"It's very rare these days to see someone break with their party to simply do what's right," Bebo said. "When someone does make that huge step to break with their party and do what's best and what needs to be done, we need to let them know that that's appreciated and we have their back."

Monday's rally was sparsely attended. Lee Wendtee said he finds many Americans to be complacent about these types of issues.

If you didn't get a chance to get out and sign the Move On petition today and wanted to, you can always get online and go to www.MoveOn.org. The petition to protect social security, Medicare and Medicaid is there as well.

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