MORE

Protesters Deliver Petition Urging Antonio Villaraigosa To Quit Fix the Debt

Protesters delivered a petition to City Hall today calling on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to step down from the Committee to Fix the Debt.

Angela Garcia Combs, who launched the petition last week through MoveOn.org, printed out about 14,000 signatures and dropped them off at the mayor's office at noon.

"It was so big and heavy that it went 'thud' on the desk," Combs said. "I said 'Please give this to the mayor.' I was very disappointed that no one would meet with me."


Villaraigosa has been taking fire over his decision to join the group's steering committee since last week. The organization is calling for a mix of entitlement cuts and "pro-growth tax reform" to close the deficit. More than 150 CEOs -- including those of Goldman Sachs, GE, and JPMorgan -- serve on its leadership committee.

The organization has been called "an elite hobnobber's paradise," and has been pilloried on the left as a threat to the social safety net. Villaraigosa -- a Democrat who lately sounds more like a pale imitation of Michael Bloomberg -- went on CNN last week to defend his decision:


"The country's evenly divided. They won too," Villaraigosa said. "We've got to work together."

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Villaraigosa outlined his views in more detail, saying he supports "reform" of Social Security and Medicare, though he opposes privatization of either program. He also said he supports allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 2%.


"I joined the Campaign to Fix the Debt because progressive Democrats need to shape the economic debate," he said. (Here you are free to imagine Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon putting down their dinner forks and listening raptly to Villaraigosa.)

Combs argued that Villaraigosa was doing little more than giving the group bipartisan cover.

"He doesn't need to lend credence to an organization whose very aggressive goals are to tinker with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," she said. "It has nothing to do with balancing the debt."

Combs was particularly irked by Villaraigosa's remark that Republicans "won too." 

"No they didn't," she said. "The people said they didn't like that platform and they voted against it."

In his statement, Villaraigosa said he hopes that more Democrats join the Fix the Debt fold: "I have called on Fix the Debt to continue expanding our bipartisan coalition. Only by talking with each other -- and working together -- can we tackle the nation's toughest challenges."

Combs, however, hopes to send a warning to other Democratic officials.

"We want national politicians to take notice," she said. "We're all coming after you. Do not join Fix the Debt."