This week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will propose a new budget for New York City.  It will resemble many of the state budgets that we have seen proposed throughout the country, as well as the federal budget proposal drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan.  They all share the same theme – the only way to fix our economy is to force-feed Americans this absurd notion of “austerity”.

The Bloomberg plan is particularly outrageous – in addition to cuts to schools, fire houses, police precincts, and hospitals, the plan directly targets programs relied upon by the most vulnerable New Yorkers:  senior centers will be closed, medical and housing services slashed for people with HIV/AIDS, homeless shelters shuttered, and tens of thousands of child care slots for the working poor will be eliminated.

The worst part?  The biggest culprits in our economic crisis in New York (and nationwide) are right in our backyard, on Wall Street.  While we are told to endure “austerity”, the Big Banks that crashed our economy, eliminated jobs, and foreclosed on millions are making billions in profits, and giving away record bonuses to CEOs.  All while reaping the benefits of taxpayer-funded subsidies (?), tax loopholes, and sweetheart deals.

On May 12, in and around Wall Street,  we will change all that.

On that date, tens of thousands of New Yorkers, supported by literally scores of labor, community, and social service organizations throughout the city,  using that date to meet up, teach-in, and take our city back. We are all joining together with a simple message:  “Stop the Cuts and Make Big Banks and Millionaires Pay”.

We will be working together in the coming weeks to demand that Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council, and all of our elected officials demand accountability and real contributions from big banks and rich taxpayers to prevent the worst of the cuts to be proposed this week in Mayor Bloomberg’s executive budget, and to not sit idly while the six largest banks – JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley – are now making over $199 million PER day in profits (to read our full report on the greed of the Big Banks and the devastating impact Bloomberg’s cuts will have, click here).

May 12 will not be just a march, a rally, or a “flash mob”; but thousands of New Yorkers taking to the streets of Downtown Manhattan to create the country’s largest teach-in:  educating the city about the depths of Wall Street greed and the breadth of devastation that Bloomberg’s cuts will create.  At 4PM – We will assemble at multiple sites around Wall Street, each with a specific theme -   Housing, Education, Jobs, Immigration, Human Services, Peace, and Transportation & Energy – and then set up teach-ins at targets that directly relate to each of these themes.  After the teach-ins, all the groups will unite in a solidarity march, and create the largest teach-in this city’s ever seen.  This isn’t just about sending a message to Wall Street – this is about reaching out to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to educate them on why we can no longer stand for this “austerity” nonsense.

Nor is this just about New York.  Over the coming weeks, citizens throughout the country, from California to Ohio to North Carolina, will be delivering the same message.  We the people have sacrificed enough.  It’s time for the Big Banks to take a healthy dose of “austerity”.

The question is:  Where will YOU be On May 12?

(Can’t be in NY on May 12?  Be a part of the virtual campaign on facebook:

(and on twitter:  @onmay12)

About the Author

Greg Basta

Staff Director for New York Communities for Change, an organization fighting for social and economic justice for working families throughout New York State. Also an overly proud native of Brooklyn.

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