‘This budget is heartless and tragic’
With a vote imminent, opponents of the House GOP budget proposal rallied Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has put forward its own budget. It’s not too late to contact Congress to oppose the House budget proposal, and to support the Congressional Progressive Caucus alternative: call 1-888-516-5820 and enter your zip code; you’ll be connected to your representative’s office. The Congressional Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus budgets will be voted on Wednesday evening (October 4); a House Democrats’ substitute will get a vote on Thursday, October 5, followed by a vote on the House GOP leadership budget resolution.
Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan, D-WI, said a tax proposal favored by many House and Senate Republicans, and backed by President Trump, would result in half of the tax cut benefits going to the top one percent of income earners in 2018, and 80 percent going to that same group by 2027. “This could be the Trump family tax plan in terms of how it operates,” he said.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-TX, said the House proposal “raises the tax rate at the bottom of the economic scale and lowers the tax rate at the top of the economic scale….Like the health care repeal, the more folks learn about this sorry bill, the better chance we have of defeating it.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN, said proposed cuts in the House proposal would harm disaster response – even though parts of the U.S. from east Texas to Puerto Rico to the U.S. Virgin Islands are reeling from hurricanes and another tropical storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. “If you think you just might have a wildfire or a tornado or a hurricane, some other disaster, this is not the tax cut for you,” he said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, echoed the “hands off” theme many human service advocates have been pushing in response to the House budget, along with the #HandsOff hashtag. “Take your hands off the American people,” said Jackson Lee, whose own Houston district has been affected by Hurricane Harvey. “Take your hands off Social Security. Take your hands off Medicare. Take your hands off health care overall. Take your hands off the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”
Other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who spoke Wednesday were Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, Barbara Lee, D-CA, Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, and Pramila Jayapal, D-WA.
Leaders from a broad coalition of groups opposing the budget and tax plan also spoke. Frank Clemente, Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness (AFT), called the proposal the “Trump tax scam.”
“It would be kind of hilarious watching these guys on TV every night if it weren’t so outrageous,” he said.
The group also heard from Suzanne Garwood, a Virginia woman and MomsRising member who along with her husband is raising two children with Down’s syndrome – a 14 year-old son and a 12 year-old daughter. A Medicaid waiver allows the parents and children to live together as a family, at home, instead of the children growing up in institutions.
“We are so fortunate to have the Medicaid waiver that allows us to have in-home services,” she said. “This budget is heartless and tragic. It inflicts unnecessary pain on families like mine and would harm our economy.”
Advocates were insistent that at some point, enough public pressure will be brought to bear to stop the budget and tax proposal.
Ben Wikler, Washington D.C. Director of MoveOn.org, had this take: “This is a fight that will be won based on the energy in the streets. And the energy in the streets is a renewable resource.”