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A blank check for billionaires!

Photo by Joe Newman

If you were near Farragut Park this afternoon, you could have taken in a bit of street theater as some performers from D.C.’s Jobs with Justice put on the “billionaires for the bailout” protest in front of Bank of America and CitiBank. The satirical street performances drew some attention from passersby as protesters demanded that their elected officials pay attention to the cries of the American people.

Dressed in pin-striped suits and gowns — that’s what your typical billionaire wears, right? — the JwJ performers mocked corporate greed, shouting “Blank checks for billionaires!” while asking taxpayers to sign over their homes and all of their earnings.

Though many of the people at the protest were casual viewers simply attracted to the spectacle, I overheard members of the crowd describe themselves as “angry,” “worried,” and “disappointed” as they discussed their opinions on Congress’ latest actions, or lack thereof.

One man I talked to said he was outraged that taxpayers such as himself have done no wrong, and yet the government wants them clean up Wall Street’s mistakes – “Which,” he added, “shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Although the protest may have done little to influence the Senate’s scheduled vote on the revised bill tonight, it offered a catchy and hopeful phrase for the American people as we enter a new era in our nation’s economic history:

“A people united will never be defeated.”

While the nation awaits Congress’ next move, the protesters tapped into anger expressed across the country by people who aren’t eager to back a Wall Street bailout. Last week, Public Citizen offered Congress a set of recommendations to make sure the bailout protects the interests of consumers. The plan that the U.S. House rejected this week contained some of those protections. Here’s hoping that the eventual plan that is passed is even stronger.

Make your voice be heard and tell our elected officials stand up for your hard-earned tax-payer dollars before handing a blank check over to corporate billionaires.