Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 10:18
Pastor Tony Ramos was out of his own congressional district, and he would have been even further south if he had his way.
|Protestors sits inside U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s Bowling Green district office. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Toledo pastor of Salem Lutheran in north Toledo and two of his parishioners visited U.S. Rep. Bob Latta's (R-Ohio) field office in Bowling Green Tuesday to protest the shutdown of the federal government.
Though residing in the 9th Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Ramos said he felt compelled by Ohio's central role in politics to visit other congressmen. If he'd planned ahead, he said, he and his companions, James Colbert and Tony Lafter, would have traveled further south to House Speaker John Boehner's district.
"He needs to hear from a lot more people than just people in his district," Ramos said.
Ramos said the neighborhood he serves has been "hit very hard with the economy for years. There's a lot of poverty, a lot of crime," he told Andrew Lorenz, Latta's district director.
The neighborhood has its positive side as well, he said, but it is a struggle, a struggle that will only be made more difficult by the shutdown.
The pastor said he felt it both as a minister and as a father. His own grown children work at jobs that are just shy of full-time so their employers don't have to provide benefits. And he has a new grandson.
His extended family benefits from food stamps and WIC.
"I'm greatly concerned," he said, "not only for them but for the people I serve in Salem and people all across the country. We're holding them hostage, putting them in jeopardy. ... No matter how we spin it politically, it always hits lower income brackets the hardest."
"I live in a real poor neighborhood," Lafter said. "I see people struggling every day. How much worse will it get? Most people live month to month, check to check. What happens when that first check doesn't come? How do they feed the children?"
Lafter said the church has a food program but its resources are strained, and other churches help out.
"We need to make sure the kids, the poor, the helpless aren't trampled for political reasons," Lafter said.
Colbert said it wouldn't only hurt the poor. Although it has "a tremendous effect on poor people, people of color, it has a ripple up effect," he said. "The young people, who have six years of college and went to work for the government agency, they're affected. It affects people who have invested a lot in their country."
Latta and other politicians have to work together, bridge the partisan divide, Colbert said.
And he pinpointed who he thought was responsible for that divide. "You have a group of people who came into government intent on destroying government, the tea party group. They don't want to work in government, they want to disrupt government. We should have people in government with a desire and ambition to serve."
Ramos said that Latta has "made very astute political moves" by saying he didn't want the government to shut down.
But "he won't compromise, he wouldn't take out defunding Obamacare" from the continuing resolution now being considered by the House and Senate.
That has resulted in the legislative deadlock that has shuttered many government services.
Lorenz deferred any comment to Latta's Washington office.
Late this morning Latta's spokeswoman Laura Strange issued the following statement: “House Republicans have acted multiple times to avert a government shutdown, and will continue working towards a solution to fully fund the government. While the House voted last night, and will vote again tonight on ways to fund the government, I’d urge Senator Reid and President Obama
to come to the table and negotiate with the House so we can end this unfortunate shutdown."
In previous statements Latta has asserted his belief that the Affordable Care Act was not ready, nor would it ever be ready, to be implemented, and at the very least should have its funding delayed for a year.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 13:18