Following on some of the genuine anger at Republican members of Congress, a group of seniors and other activists are organizing about 40 protest events in congressional districts all across the country intended to make House Republicans “feel the heat” for votes to cut funding for the Social Security Administration and alter Medicare and Medicaid.
One of the targets is freshman Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y. Protesters are expected to sing "an original song" titled "Hard Hearted Hanna" outside Hanna's offices in Cortland, N.Y., on Wednesday, according to a press release distributed by the “Strengthen Social Security Campaign.” The song is a takeoff on the old Tin Pan Alley hit "Hard Hearted Hannah" performed by various artists from Ella Fitzgerald to Jim Croce.
The adapted version of the song plays directly into the frequent Democratic depiction of Republicans as hard-hearted, miserly bean counters unconcerned about the poor and needy, but the choice of song may be a little ill-considered or at least poorly-timed.
“It’s been six weeks since Representative Hanna underwent a successful heart surgery, so I’d say the song choice is in poor taste,” said Hanna spokeswoman Renee Gamela. “But he nonetheless appreciates lively public engagement on these issues.”
Mary Clark, a regional organizer for CitizenActionNY.org, which has been handling local organization of the event, said the song is about Hanna’s “hard heartedness” toward seniors, children, and the disabled.
“Many of our seniors are into theater, and they thought of this. We’ve just changed the lyrics a bit,” she said.
According to a draft copy of the lyrics, the song about Hanna goes:
His name is Hard-Hearted Hanna,
He ain't no Pollyanna,
He's the meanest man in town!
His talk is tough, but his budget cuts are rougher
He's gonna make senior citizens suffer!
Clark said organizers see no reason to change their tune. Quite the opposite, in fact. Along with the song, the events targeting Hanna include a skit. As many as 40 people are expected to take part in the events.
Clark said Hanna’s personal health problems did not deter him from returning to Washington and voting for cuts that hurt seniors and children, including House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which was passed before Congress left on its two-week break.
“Everyone agrees that these vital programs are on the path to insolvency and bankruptcy,” Gamela said. “Everyone at the federal level has the same goal: to strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and secure them for current and future generations. Representative Hanna continues to appreciate thoughtful input from all citizens and looks forward to being part of the solution to save these programs from bankruptcy."
Under the unified theme “Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die,” other seniors, workers, and advocates plan to make similar visits to local congressional offices across the country, with ideas including activists dressing as zombies at the office of Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is also among the targets.
This article appears in the April 27, 2011, edition of NJ Daily.