On November 27th, Act Up NY took a bus to Washington D.C. to protest potential AIDS budget cuts at Speaker John Boehner’s office by stripping nude in his office.
Though talk of the Fiscal Cliff has drawn more attention now, those who would end up feeling the brunt of the cutbacks were fully aware of the problems and were willing to strip down to stand up a month ago.
Recently the debates have centered mostly around tax cuts for wealthier Americans and, for some reason, cuts to Social Security benefits. Even President Obama has considered cutting Social Security payments. Others have already reported Food Stamp shortages and one can only imagine what other cutbacks might be made under the veil of the “Tax Cuts/Social Security debate.” One scenario to consider might be tax cuts for the middle-class (the one that has the most votes), tax increases for wealthier individuals (an issue where President Obama now has a lot more political strength than before re-election), and cut-backs in social programs for lower-income groups (the one with the least voting power).
Included in this lower-income group are those suffering from HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, when cut-backs are made to lower-income groups this usually has a severe toll on the lives of the members of that group (as they are often dependent upon the aide they receive). Unfortunately though, in the realm of politics (even before the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling), your income often directly correlates with your political influence. The less influence you have, the less of a concern you are. Once your position of influence is viewed with this consideration the farther right of center a politician stands, the less concern s/he has for your struggle.
Many with HIV and AIDS are easily lumped into this less influential category. For this reason Act Up NY joined with a group of Act Up members from Philadelphia to bring the realities of their lives to Speaker John Boehner’s office, and make a demand for “no more budget cuts on their backs.” They also promoted the proposed Robin Hood Tax (More on that below).
In the second video there is a reference to something called the “Robin Hood Tax.” For those who don’t know, the Robin Hood Tax would place a 0.05% tax on all Wall Street transactions. This one measure would generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year (See reference article).
This is the final video from the part of the action at Speaker Boehner’s office. The video begins with a woman detailing her experiences living with AIDS. Following this Lauren of @jak_nlauren does a quick recap of the action. Following her recap a long-time Act Up member gives a statistic on the number of people who die from AIDS every minute.
Following the demonstration at Speaker Boehner’s office the group decided to make an unplanned stop at Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office to bring the same message. This time they kept their clothes on.
No arrests were made at the second stop on this day of action. However, at Speaker Boehner’s office 3 of the women who stripped naked were arrested.
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