OAKLAND -- Liberals took to Bay Area streets Monday as part of a national day of action, urging Congress to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff" by raising taxes on the rich and protecting social programs against cuts.

In Oakland, Rep. Barbara Lee, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and Mayor Jean Quan rallied several dozen activists and community members organized by the Alameda Labor Council outside the Social Security Administration office in the Eastmont Town Center.

Lee, D-Oakland, noted that Monday was International Human Rights Day, and that the United Nations Charter calls for every person to have the right to a standard of living, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services -- yet some Americans could be left bereft if Congress doesn't help.

"You have a resistance movement in the United States Congress," Lee told the crowd, emphasizing the need to extend emergency unemployment benefits that could expire at the end of this month, leaving 2 million people without support.

"We cannot allow this to be on the chopping block," she said. "People deserve this bridge over troubled water until we turn the economy around."

But California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette said Monday that "sooner or later people are going to wake up and realize that we can't spend our way back to prosperity.

"The U.S. government could confiscate all of the property of the so-called millionaires in this country and it wouldn't solve our debt crisis," he said. "It's time we learn that we have to grow the economy in order to pay for essential services and we need to cut back on nonessential services if we want to provide anyone with Medicare or Social Security in the future."

Monday's rhetoric didn't do much to break the deadlock in Washington, where Democrats and Republicans continued to trade barbed statements but no solutions.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, protesters organized by the Service Employees International Union and voicing similar demands gathered at midday outside the San Francisco office of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

MoveOn.org organized other demonstrations in downtown Walnut Creek, North Berkeley and in Palo Alto's Lytton Plaza along University Avenue.

California seniors, organized by the California Alliance for Retired Americans, the California Nurses Association and The Action held candlelight vigils Monday in San Jose, San Francisco, Stockton, Sacramento and 11 other California cities, urging Congress to protect Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security while letting the tax cuts expire for the nation's richest.

At the Oakland event, retired BART worker Liz Kimura, 66, said she relies on Medicare but needs Social Security payments to cover her dental and vision needs, so any delay or cuts in benefits would have dire consequences for someone like her.

"The greedy need to help the needy," she said.

Skinner, D-Berkeley, urged Congress to end the gridlock immediately and wisely.

About two million Americans will get their final unemployment check during the week of Christmas if nothing is done, Skinner said, so Congress must "stop being Scrooge and do the right thing."

Josh Richman covers politics. Contact him at 510-208-6428. Follow him at Twitter.com/josh_richman. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.