A coalition of progressive groups held a “Kill the Trump Tax Bill Rally” at the Rhode Island State House Saturday to protest the GOP tax bill currently making its way through Congress. The rally was spearheaded by Indivisible Rhode Island (IndivisibleRI) along with Rhode Island Women’s March on Washington, SEIU and The Woman Project. Similar rallies and protests are being held across the United States.
The organizers hope “to show members of Congress that there is widespread resistance to this bill and mobilize the community to contact their representatives.”
“This Trump/GOP tax bill would deliver massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and large corporations, threaten vital safety net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by eliminating the individual mandate,” said Andy Acciaioli, IndivisibleRI’s executive director. “The GOP is not wasting any time to ram this horrific tax bill through the Senate.”
Bob Graves recited “‘Tis the Bight Before Taxes” at the start of the rally. IndivisibleRI has a video of Graves reading the poem here.
Rhode Island State Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence), who is running for Lieutenant Governor, called the bill a “tax monstrosity.”
“The truth is, our state has engaged in the same trickle-down tax policies that are coming out of Washington,” said Regunberg. “Rhode Island cut income taxes on the wealthiest earners. Rhode Island cut the estate tax. Of course they said this would lead to jobs, but the jobs never came. What came was a big budget deficit along with cut to needed services and a bigger tax burden on middle class and working class families, just like in the Trump tax plan.”
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Sarah Markey, co-founder of The Woman Project, focused on the “sneakiest provision,” the part of the bill that establishes “fetal personhood” into law as a way of undermining reproductive rights. “We’re going to make sure that Trump, the anti-choice sexual harassing, commander-in-chief, knows that we are going to oppose his tax plan every step of the way.”
IndivisbleRI’s assistant executive director Shawna Rihani talked about the “double taxation aspect of the Trump/GOP tax plan. Where as previously, the taxes paid to state governments was deductible, that is no longer the case. “We can look forward to paying taxes on state taxes,” said Rihani.
IndivisibleRI member Roy Streit talked about the way the new tax plan would tax graduate students. Graduate students are paid very little by the universities they work for. Under the proposed Trump/GOP tax plan, graduate students would pay taxes on waived tuition costs, as well as what they are paid, raising their taxable income from $20-30 thousand a year to $70 thousand or more a year, without increasing their salaries. This undercuts education in the United States, said Streit.
Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) and Representative Scott Slater (Democrat, District 10, Providence) attended the rally.
Rhode island’s congressional delegation is very critical of the Trump/GOP tax plan.
United States Representative Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California), on a recent visit to Rhode Island, said Republicans are trying “to rob hard-working Americans of the student loan interest deduction, credits for lifetime learning and tax-free tuition assistance from employers just to give billionaires and corporations tax cuts.”
“In addition to raising taxes on the middle class, the Republican plan cuts $5.8 trillion from workforce training, college affordability, health care for veterans, Medicare, Medicaid, and other critical services,” said United States Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island). “It will expand the deficit by $1.5 trillion. And 173,000 Rhode Islanders will see their taxes go up because they will lose the ability to deduct state and local taxes on their federal return.”
“The Republican tax bill actually raises taxes on working families,” said United States Senator Jack Reed (Democrat, Rhode Island). “It cuts billions from Medicare… it would, if the Senate version passed, throw 13 million Americans off their health care plans and it would do that just to provide tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.”
United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) called the Republican tax bill “an assault on American health care.