I haven’t protested Donald Trump and the Republican Party in 2017 yet. I mean, I have, as this section demonstrates every day, but I have yet to protest them in the physical world. I made plans to go to the women’s march earlier this year, but my move down to Atlanta to work for Paste threw a wrench into that idea. Now that I cover these schmucks all day every day, it has basically rendered any extracurricular political activity overly exhaustive, and I genuinely fear for my sanity if I spend too much time embedded in our political hysteria.
But I’m back home visiting my family in Colorado for Thanksgiving this week, and they have been helping me make up for lost time. On Tuesday, I accompanied them to an Indivisible protest against the farce that is the GOP tax bill. Here’s what I observed.
Some on the right tend to look at these protests and think that they are unorganized morasses of humanity binding together to exert a primal scream. What I observed was a group with a very clear strategy. The event was staged across the street from Republican Senator Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver, and it lasted an hour.
We arrived ten minutes before the rally began, and local TV stations and newspapers were already set up—despite the fact that there were only a handful of organizers there. Initially, I thought I had wasted my afternoon attending a non-event, but people soon began showing up in droves, and eventually about 150 packed the sidewalk across the street from the target of their message. The organizers set up a livestream to broadcast on the web, and the protest signs that people brought rotated in the background behind each speaker, who was shedding light on the various evils hidden in the Republican tax bill. This was not a rambling group of anti-Trumpists, but an organization who very clearly understood all the various methods needed to effectively broadcast a message, and the Republican Party—not Trump—was the primary target of their collective action. The success of organizations like Indivisible is likely a factor in the 84% of voters who say this tax plan will not reduce their taxes.
The Congressional Budget Office exists so we have a politically independent source to verify our representatives’ financial claims. They “score” every bill in order to ascertain its effect on the budget. The CBO doesn’t go as far to say “the GOP plan is a lie,” but it’s impossible for both the CBO’s and the GOP’s claims to be true. The Republicans say this will be a boon to the middle class, and that it won’t hurt the poor, but that’s a claim that just isn’t based in reality. If you’re making $40,000 or less—at best—you’ll receive a tax cut in 2019, but have your taxes raised going forward. By 2027, those making $75,000 or less will also see a tax hike. It’s written very clearly in their own plan. The GOP is effectively waving their hand in front of our faces and telling us “these are not the droids you are looking for.”
The CBO said that the tax bill will automatically cut Medicare by $25 billion per year. The crowd here skewed older, and nearly everyone I spoke to feared that their health and/or financial stability is in serious jeopardy. However, plenty also offered the caveat that they couldn’t be completely certain of their children’s futures, because the Republicans refuse to tell us much of what is in this bill.
The Republicans are fond of saying that this is an “average” tax cut for the middle class, and they're right. Well, they're right in the same way that if Bill Gates stood next to me, on average we would be billionaires. Whenever you hear a politician use the word “average” to defend one of their plans, your BS detector should go off. This tax plan is so transparently fraudulent that Forbes—Forbes!—published a piece titled “How The GOP Tax Plan Scrooges Middle Class, Retired And Poor.”
So much of this push is fraudulent, but what really gives it all away is what the plan keeps permanent. In order to comply with Senate rules, this plan cannot add too much to the debt, and in order to stay in bounds, the Republicans have come up with a novel idea: keep some tax cuts in place forever, while letting others expire in a decade—which means that corporations get to keep their giveaway, while any benefits to individuals expire in 2027.
I love this. We need more wonkish protests. I tried to find the woman holding this sign after the speakers concluded, but her friends told me that she had to leave early to go back to work. So did the woman who organized this entire protest outside Senator Gardner's office. How apropos.
This is why this is all happening. The donor class needs a return on their down payment. We live in a rich banana republic where politicians are more accountable to their donors than their voters. This is a wildly unpopular bill—40% of GOP voters don't even support it—but our oligarchs have decided that their insatiable desire to liquidate our society in order to further line their pockets cannot be deterred by small annoyances like democracy. During one of the speeches, a man jokingly screamed from the crowd “eat the rich!” Initially I recoiled at the quip—because I believe that dehumanizing our political opponents is partially to blame for our present malaise—but once logic took root, I concluded that was simply a proportional response to their assault on the rest of us (note: 400 millionaires have signed a pledge asking Congress to raise their taxes, so they're not all baddies).
Hell yes. This is the winner of my unofficial sign contest. All our representatives come out of Congress richer than they entered regardless of party, so why do they need to be paid a living wage? Lastly, to all Republicans who think that it's only the politically active who are organized against your effort to defraud America, the end of this video I took is instructive.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.