Friday, December 8th, 2017
Last Friday afternoon, while most Oregonians were doing the dishes and putting their kids to bed, Senate Republicans in DC released the final draft of a nearly 500-page tax bill. Members of Congress had just a few hours to skim the surface of the bill and its hand-written edits and additions before passing the bill that will impact millions of families—their jobs, healthcare, and ability to survive in economies that increasingly value corporate profit over human lives. Many senators were appalled that a bill with such significant impact was largely written behind closed doors and released without the time needed to even read it thoroughly. The bill passed in the middle of the night by a margin of two votes.
Thankfully, there is still time to intervene! The tax bill still needs to go through a reconciliation process to align versions passed by the Senate and the House. If signed as is, the tax bill will have an enormous impacts on us here in rural Oregon, including:
The tax bill will increase income inequity. The greatest benefits of tax cuts under the new plan will go to corporations and wealthy people, while some small businesses and poor folks will actually experience a tax increase over time.
The tax bill will undercut the Affordable Care Act and as a result, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that millions more people will become uninsured by 2027. In many rural counties in Oregon, including Crook, Josephine and Malheur counties, over 35 percent of people rely on medicaid and marketplaces that were expanded under the ACA. Follow this link to learn more about why the tax bill is also a healthcare bill.
The tax bill could also cause Oregon state income taxes to increase, as our income tax codes are linked with many federal tax provisions. Learn more here.
The tax bill will increase the US budget deficit, which the Right has often used as an excuse to defund critical public services and build dangerous narratives around scarcity that drive racist and anti-poor policy.
As the US House of Representatives and Senate now work to reconcile the two versions of the bill that they passed last week, [http://Hyperlink: https://thinkprogress.org/protesters-gop-tax-bill-5a85ba098507/ ]demonstrators are filling the US capitol to demand justice for all — and a tax plan that doesn’t leave behind sick, disabled, and low-income people in order to benefit wealthy people and corporations.
Rural Oregonians from Congressional District 2 (also known as the eastern two-thirds of the state) and across the state are flooding the answering machine and inbox of Representative Greg Walden, who voted for the version of the tax bill that passed through the House of Representatives last week. Rep. Walden is on the conference committee that is working to reconcile the two bills, and he is also the only member of Oregon’s congressional delegation to have voted in favor of Trump’s tax bills. Check out this blog post from the Oregon Center for Public Policy about Walden’s role in the tax bill including a link to submit a comment to Walden.
Ready to take action?
Here are 3 things you or your group can do!
1.) Call Walden’s office, even if you aren’t in his district. Reach his DC office at: (202) 225-6730. His decision will impact all Oregonians. In his leadership position he has a responsibility to all Oregonians.
2.) Write a letter to the editor from you or your group. Here’s Columbia County Coalition for Human Dignity’s letter to the editor, if you want an example! Letters can describe the broader impacts of the bill and tell personal stories of how you or someone you know will be impacted.
3.) Hold an action in your town. While some communities are sitting in at Congresspeople’s offices across the country, every town can hold an action that elevates the call for a reasonable tax bill. Have every person call their member of Congress and Walden while at the action. Create a community outcry, and get your neighbors involved!
The vote in Congress on Friday night brings to light the impact that such threats to democracy have on our daily lives and our ability to care for ourselves, our families, and our communities. As a starting point, we need a democracy where people are the primary decision makers in the policies that impact their lives. On Friday, even our members of congress, who hold the highest elected offices in our country, were forced to make a rushed, uninformed decision that impacts millions of people nationwide, including in our communities.
In rural Oregon, we have a long history of building democracy at home, even (and especially!) when democracy is threatened. We have learned how to look out for each other when the Right is creating crises, division and scarcity in our communities. When Congress refuses to fight for us, what does it look like to commit through action to taking care of each other? What kind of ruckus can we make so that our elected officials know that we will be part of decisions that impact our daily lives?
Across the state, people are joining together to make it clear that we will not accept a bill that harms our neighbors for the sake of profit. We would love to know more about the actions happening in your community to respond to the tax plan! Email email@example.com to share about what your group is up to!
Grace, Hannah, Cara, Jess, Keyla & the ROP Team