"Rombies" protest Mitt Romney's economic policies in Iowa City


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What do zombies have to do with economics? According to the Service Employees International Union 199, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s platform will bring back economic policies that are “dead.”

“The people united cannot be defeated,” a small group of activists on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway shouted on Thursday. As the Sun began to set, many students walked by with confused faces — few stopped to watch.

Union member Devin Mehaffey dressed up in a rubber Romney mask and gave a satirical speech behind a podium. To his sides stood “zombies” with signs bearing messages such as “Trickle Down Economics” and “Social Security and Medicare for None.”

“Hey hey, ho-ho, trickle-down has gotta go,” exclaimed the rally participants.

However, local Republicans say Romney’s economic plans are not dead and that they will actually stimulate the economy.

Quentin Marquez, the vice head of the University of Iowa College Republicans, said the Romney platform does not try to eliminate jobs. Romney, he said, will restore balance to ensure that job creators are enabled to stimulate the economy.

“Trickle-down economics gets a bad rep most of the time,” Marquez said. “It’s not that we don’t care about workers, it’s that Republicans want to ensure balance in the economy. The fact is that trickle-down economics works.”

Marquez also said that Romney’s economic views are not anti-union but instead will give broad tax cuts — not just cuts for the richest 1 percent, as the union rally claimed Thursday.

Romney’s economic plan includes cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, switching to a territorial tax system, and repealing the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax, according to his campaign site.

President Obama’s economic plan includes giving tax breaks to those Americans who make less than $250,000 a year.

Many union members on Thursday said the rally was not to endorse a particular candidate but was instead to inform students of their choices when they go to vote as part of a larger national day of action.

The national union formed a chapter in Iowa City in 1998 to push for fair compensation for local hospital employees.

Ann Byrne, who joined in 1999 and is now the secretary of the executive board, said she joined because of what she described as unfair wages at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

“I am concerned about the election,” Byrne said, and she was at the rally because of issues such as the economy.

After speaking and still wearing his rubber Romney mask, a sweaty Mehaffey handed out fliers to passersby. The fliers contained information that sheds a negative light on Romney through a series of statistics.

The flier said, “Mitt Romney (is) out of touch with middle-class America.” The local union is concerned that if elected, Romney will eliminate jobs and also local unions.

And Local 199 President Cathy Glasson said Romney’s economic plan favors corporate America.

“We can’t give our government away to the global corporate and banking interests,” Glasson said in a press release. “I’m talking about the CEOs and Wall Street traders who care more about tax loopholes than fixing our potholes, more about cutting taxes for the rich than cutting working people a break when it comes to their shrinking wages, and more about their own short-term profits than Americans’ long-term prosperity.”

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