Some 60 demonstrators ralled at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham Sunday afternoon to protest the continued movement of the Republican-led tax reform effort on Capitol Hill.
Separate tax reform bills have passed the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and now head to a joint committee of both houses for reconciliation. The new combined bill will have to pass both the House and Senate before being sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.
Faisal Khan, founder of Carolina Peace Center, explained the purpose of the “Rally to Stop the Trump GOP Tax Scam.”
“The GOP-led Congress has refused to listen to their constituents in supporting a bill that is opposed by a vast majority of citizens,” Khan said .
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The rally was organized by the progressive activist groups Carolina Peace Center, North Carolina Grassroots Activist Coalition, Together We Will and Triangle Indivisible Daily Call to Action.
“The tax bill is a massive transfer of wealth from the working and middle class to the wealthiest one percent,” Kahn said. “The Senate version of the Tax Bill will take health care away from an estimated 13 million Americans and will raise premiums for millions of others. It will also make college less affordable.”
Jamie Sohn spoke to her fellow demonstrators about her personal concerns.
“About 10 years ago, I had no life,” Sohn said. “I couldn't get out of bed.”
Sohn described a constant plague of chronic migraines so severe that she spent more time waiting in emergency rooms with her head pounding than anywhere else.
Fortunately, Sohn said she has since worked with doctors to find means of reducing her recurrent headaches to an average of only four per month.
“One nasty part of this Senate bill eliminates the opportunity for me to deduct these expenses from my taxes,” Sohn said. “It is expensive to live with multiple chronic illnesses. But, I'm living now. The potential drain on my finances scares me.”
Concluding, Sohn loudly asked her listeners, “What will I have to sacrifice if this becomes law? … Will I return to bed?”
After hearing Sohn speak, state Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, said, “Budget and tax bills are moral documents. What occurred in D.C. this week is nothing short of immoral.”
Speakers, including state Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, and UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law professor Gene Nichol, condemned the bill through a rally microphone.
“Oh, first, I am instructed by my chancellor and provost to say, I do not speak for the University of North Carolina. Actually, I'm barely allowed to speak at the University of North Carolina, much less for it,” Nichol said.
Referring to the United States, Nichol told the crowd, “We have the worst income mobility rates in the advanced world. If you're born poor here, you're more likely to stay that way than anywhere else. … So, what do our senators, (Thom) Tillis and (Richard) Burr do?
“They borrow over a trillion dollars to create the largest tax cut in history – calling it a cut – but it'll raise taxes on the bottom 40 percent to give gigantic cuts to the richest corporations and the one percent-ers,” Nichol continued.