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After the Bailout: Advocates Push for More Action

October 13, 2008

Pittsburgh, PA - Congress' big Wall Street bailout has been signed, but the global economy has continued its downward spiral in the past week. With poverty on the rise in Pennsylvania, a number of advocacy groups say it's time to push for more action from lawmakers to help homeowners facing foreclosure. They also want Congress to consider another economic stimulus package and to stop spending billions of dollars a week on the war in Iraq.

Jessica Walker Beaumont, trade and debt specialist for the American Friends Service Committee, says they're asking constituents to get involved by making their concerns known to candidates along the campaign trail.

"We call it 'bird-dogging.' It's, literally, just following a candidate around and getting an opportunity to ask them a pointed question on their position. You can ask them: 'Are you planning to support an economic recovery package?'"

She believes more should be done to hold businesses to socially-responsible standards, as well as helping families struggling to make ends meet. And Joni Rabinowitz, co-director of Just Harvest in Pittsburgh, says a poverty crisis has been building in Allegheny County for years now. She suspects many other areas of the U.S. are in similar situations.

"But you don't see the government coming along and saying, 'Oh, this is a crisis.' And that's what we would like to see - the government paying as much attention to the people that have been hurting all along, as they are paying to Wall Street."

Walker Beaumont agrees something needs to be done to help people caught up in the foreclosure crisis, which is now being widely acknowledged as a root cause of the economic collapse.

"Giving the judges in bankruptcy courts the opportunity to restructure people's mortgages to keep them in their homes, is something very concrete that can be done."

Congress is expected to reconvene after the election for at least one brief session in November to address the crisis.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - PA