Petition for Villaraigosa to resign from ‘Fix the Debt’

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Antonio Villaraigosa

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A left-leaning political website and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa clashed today over his membership on the steering committee for a group called Fix the Debt.

A writer on MoveOn.org criticized the mayor for joining Fix the Debt, which promotes itself as “a non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path” by pressing for “a comprehensive plan to fix our long-term debt and deficits.”

But Angela Garcia Combs, a Los Angeles filmmaker, argued on Moveon.org that the group really seeks “to balance the (federal) budget on the backs of middle and working-class Americans.”

One day after the mayor announced his participation on the group’s steering committee, there were more than 5,000 signatures on the petition circulated via the politically left-leaning advocacy group MoveOn.org. The Fix The Debt petition reportedly had more than 315,000 names, MoveOn.org claims more than 5,000 names on the counter-petition.

“As somebody who volunteered and knocked on doors to help elect Mayor Villaraigosa, I feel disappointed and betrayed,” said Combs, a 50-year-old independent filmmaker. “It is inappropriate that Villaraigosa use his position to help this corporate-backed group gut Social Security and Medicare, which many of us will need someday.”

Late today, Villaraigosa stated “as a progressive Democrat, I joined the Campaign to Fix the Debt because Democrats and republicans need to come together to find a balanced approach to our fiscal future.

Villaraigosa expressed continued support for President Obama’s “balanced approach that includes spending cuts and letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top two percent of Americans.”

Fix the Debt is a bipartisan group that wants federal lawmakers to reduce the federal budget deficit, in part by cutting spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and through so-called “pro-growth tax reform” that includes lowering taxes.

The group’s leadership council includes the heads of the some of the world’s largest largest banks, investment firms and companies, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Bain Capital, founded by former Republican presidential candidate and Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

The CEOs in the guiding group, who stand to benefit financially from lower corporate tax rates, have contributed much of the group’s $43 million budget, the Washington Post reported.

“If we’re serious about long-term economic growth, we need a balanced approach for reducing the federal debt,” Villaraigosa said Tuesday in announcing his support for Fix the Debt. “That approach should include spending cuts, raising revenue and reforms that put our entitlement programs on a sustainable footing,” the mayor said.

Combs said she was moved to start the petition Tuesday after reading that Villaraigosa had joined the Fix the Debt’s steering committee, whose principles she likened to “thievery.”

“Social Security, we pay into, the working class. It doesn’t add to the debt, and it’s not real to pretend that it does. If it’s such a debt problem, why are these rich people always trying to privatize it?” she said.

“It’s immoral and I can’t support it and I feel angry that I gave my time to Villaraigosa, who I’ve been very patiently supporting while he’s been in office,” Combs said. “We all know that two unfunded wars and unfunded tax cuts put us into this debt.”

Combs said the only other petition she’s ever organized was one in sixth grade to get her school principal to allow girls to wear open-toed shoes.

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