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Boston Common rally protests GOP efforts to force US to default on debt

The rally was held with less than two weeks before a June 1 deadline that could see the federal government run out of funds to pay its bills,

Protesters gathered on Boston Common to demand a resolution to the debt limit crisis.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

About 30 demonstrators withstood steady, heavy rain on Boston Common Saturday to rail against Republican intransigence that has the country teetering dangerously close to defaulting on its debt for the first time in its history.

“You shouldn’t have to demand that the GOP stop extorting American families and yet here we are, less than two weeks from unprecedented catastrophe,” said Representative Katherine Clark, the House Democratic whip, during a news conference that preceded the rally.

Clark was joined by advocates, local clergy, and labor union representatives who railed against the debt ceiling crisis, saying Republicans were threatening to shred the country’s social safety nets, from Meals on Wheels to domestic violence programming. Clark called it “madness” and noted that the country’s debt ceiling was raised three times under the Republican presidency of Donald Trump.


“They are fighting tooth and nail for a tax code rigged for the wealthy,” said the Revere resident. “That is what this is all about.”

The small crowd huddled under a trio of tents to stay dry across the street from the Massachusetts State House. Signs were tacked to some of the tents reading “Stop MAGA Default Crisis.” Frustration with the GOP was palpable, as multiple speakers warned that the United States defaulting on its debt could trigger an economic calamity, and cause mortgage and car loan rates, health care costs, even food prices, to skyrocket.

Jim Cantwell, senior adviser and state director for Senator Ed Markey, a progressive Democrat from Malden, said the GOP was threatening to drive the American economy off a cliff.

“Republicans aren’t serious about finding a solution,” he said.

The demonstration came a day after the White House and congressional Republicans briefly broke off talks over the federal budget and debt ceiling. The halting of talks came with less than two weeks before a June 1 deadline that could see the federal government run out of funds to pay its bills, The Washington Post reported.


If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, it could spell a fiscal doomsday, with the Treasury Department issuing recent warnings that it could not guarantee it will be able to pay its bills after June 1. If the US defaults on its debt, authorities from both sides of the aisle have warned that it could trigger a global fiscal crisis.

In January, the US government ran up against its legal borrowing limit of $31.381 trillion, and the Treasury Department began implementing “extraordinary measures” to avoid missing payments on its bills.

Katherine Clark was the keynote speaker at the rally on Boston Common.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The rally was hosted by Indivisible Mass Coalition, along with a slew of other organizations. The coalition is a volunteer organization that aims to foster activists “to strengthen constituent power and improve our democracy.”

Saturday’s event was one of about 100 demonstrations across the country this week, with the June 1 deadline fast approaching.

Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition Chairperson Deb Paul told the crowd the aim of the demonstration was to send a message that “we don’t negotiate, especially not on social programs, in return for averting a default crisis.”

“Republicans are extreme and they don’t care about anything other than their own power,” she said. “Otherwise why would they want to default on our debt?”

The Rev. Kevin C. Peterson, founder of The New Democracy Coalition, told the crowd “our democracy is at stake.”

“Let’s fight for what’s right,” he said.


Cindy Rowe, executive director of Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action, said Republicans want to make cuts to health care and education and slash support programs for the country’s most vulnerable. Budgets are moral documents, she said, and “MAGA extremists are manufacturing a default crisis.”

Material from the Associated Press and The Washington Post was used in this report.

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.