Bilbray’s chief of staff responds to Jubilee organizers
VIDEO: Second recent demonstration outside Solana Beach office
For the second time in as many months, supporters of the Jubilee Act rallied outside Congressman Brian Bilbray’s Solana Beach office, hoping to persuade the Republican to vote for a bill that would cancel debts for 22 poor or impoverished countries.
“For some reason, for the six weeks since we were here in front of Congressman Bilbary’s office, we have had no response from him whatsoever, not even a letter,” said Pastor Bill Harman. “We can’t understand that because we’re very vocal and we represent a rather large constituency of his.”
After the rally, Bilbray’s Chief of Staff responded to an inquiry about Jubilee’s mission, saying, “You’ve got people talking about debt relief in Kenya and we’re more concerned about what’s happening in Carmel Valley,” said Steve Danon in a phone interview with this newspaper. “When we have a $12.7 trillion debt currently in the United States, and currently one out of every $3 that the United States Government spends is borrowed, we need to keep those resources home.”
Jubilee proponents were joined at the rally by Kenyan Wahu Kaara, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Kaara is acting as the executive director of the Kenya Debt Relief Network and is campaigning across the country in support of Jubilee.
“We are making a wakeup call to [Bilbray],” she said. “We need the Republicans and the Democrats to think through together on issues that affect us like debt cancellation.”
Organizers say the act would allow impoverished countries to pay for education, healthcare and the necessities for a society to grow and prosper. Harman has given examples that for every $1 an African country receives in development aid, it must pay back $1.50 in interest.
The Jubilee Act was first introduced to the House of Representatives in 2007, passed in April 2008, but expired in the Senate later that year.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is the lead sponsor for its reintroduction. Demonstrators note its bipartisan support, including that of Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. Since 2005, 26 countries have had their debts canceled, according to a recent Jubilee press release. Danon said the alleged bipartisan support is inconsequential.
“I will assure this, regardless of who is supporting that bill, their eye is off the ball,” he said. “I don’t care if they’re from California or if they’re from Mississippi, the number one priority right now is getting Americans back to work and making sure that we don’t continue with this reckless government spending.”
Harmon said Bilbray should support the bill because it falls inline with his beliefs.
“We feel that it’s consistent with his faith perspective as a Roman Catholic, and we feel it’s very consistent with his focus on business and development,” he said. “If we alleviate these illegitimate debts, instead of sending mosquito nets to Africa, we’ll be sending iPads.”
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