The Rotunda Room at the Vets Auditorium was packed with people, press and politicians on Wednesday April 4 at 11 am for the #TrumpTax Tour. A national series of town hall meetings organized by MomsRising.org, the purpose was to activate voters to protest against the recent tax bill that was rushed through Congress and signed into law.
“They didn’t even know exactly what they were voting on,” said Pelosi “It was all done in back rooms, voted on in the dark of night, and hurried through. Not a single Democrat voted in favor of that bill.”
The panel, Democratic Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Nanette Barragan (D- CA 44th) Congressman Ted Lieu (D CA- 33rd), Edward Kleinbard, the Packard Chair of the Gould USC School of Law (and author of We Are Better Than This; How Government Should Spend Our Money) and Donna Norton, the Deputy Director of MomsRising.org were facilitated by moderator Jennifer Taub of the Vermont Law School.
The room was filled almost to overflowing, and as the meeting began, there was a disruption from a man in the audience who began shouting at the panel, filming himself with his cell phone as he was gently escorted from the building. The crowd seemed undistracted by the disturbance.
The panel spoke to the main issues of the new tax law, with Norton giving testimony from members of MomsRising.org about the serious and cruel impact that these policies would have on working mothers, on entrepreneurs, and on programs for children.
Kleinbard addressed the legal issues, noting that “The reasoning behind so much of this data was so poor, it was labelled as ‘counter-factual’ to give it an official designation. Not even the accounting offices that created these statistics can support them.” Several speakers on the panel supported Kleinbard saying that 83% of the tax benefits go to the top .1% of taxpayers, people making more than $3 million a year. The majority of Americans will see an increase in their taxes.
Lieu was succinct, saying “Elected officials love to vote for tax cuts, I love to vote for tax cuts, just not stupid tax cuts.”
The long term injury to the economy and the nation was predicted to be devastating.
Pelosi was blunt, calling the tax law a “stunning, disgraceful display of greed.” The billions of dollars that it will drain from Medicare, from Social Security, the direct attack on California by taking away the state tax exemption for individuals, and the possibly fatal strain on the social safety net were all presented as matters of crisis level concern.
She pointed out that “In the past, tax code changes had a transition period, and this as none. There’s no time for people to adjust their plans, their budgets or their challenges, and the financial pain for middle class Americans is going to be deep.”
Pelosi was eloquent, using quotations that ranged from St. Augustine to Thomas Paine to connect with the crowd and make her point.
One question from the audience concerned the status of donations to non-profits. Kleinbard noted that they would be effected by the loss of the state tax exemption. “It isn’t that donations are no longer deductible, but that you won’t see any benefit to them unless they exceed the state tax. So it’s really a great loss, both for non-profits, who won’t be able to offer the incentive, and the individuals, who will really be giving out of their own pocket until it goes above a certain level.”
As the meeting was closing, another man stood up and began shouting at the panel, but his rant was ignored over the noise of people leaving and the room emptying out.
The message of the tour -‘ get out the vote, make your voice heard, protect our democracy,’ was underscored by every speaker on the panel.
MomsRising.org will also be hosting a Telephone Town Hall tonight, April 5 at 5:30 pm Pacific Standard Time featuring Elizabeth Warren. To join the call text TOWNHALL to 747464 for the #MomsVote launch.