Marvin Keshner of Sonora says he doesn’t pledge allegiance to either major political party but he joined more than 30 people at Courthouse Square in downtown Sonora on Tuesday protesting the proposed $1.5 trillion federal tax overhaul backed by Republicans and President Donald Trump.
Keshner was handing out fliers titled “Do Not Be Fooled” that included a list of statistics intended to illustrate how the GOP plan that recently passed the Senate will largely benefit the most wealthy people in the United States.
“I have voted both ways as of late, but it’s very hard to vote Republican because of the lying and cheating,” Keshner said. “I wish they’d tell it like it is instead of pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.”
Others lined up on the sidewalk along Washington Street holding signs that bore messages such as “GOP = Greed Over People,” “Why do billionaires need even more money?” and “Your tax cut is a hike here.”
Although billed as an across-the-board tax cut for all Americans, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center analyzed the version of the bill that passed the Senate and found that the benefits would still be mostly skewed toward higher income earners.
Middle-class households making between $50,000 and $87,000 a year would see an average tax cut of $840 in 2019, according to the center. That equals out to about 1.4 percent of after-tax income for those in that range.
The top 1 percent of households, which are those making $750,000 or more per year, would see an average tax cut of $28,000 in 2019, or 1.8 percent of their after-tax income, according to the center’s analysis of the Senate’s version of the bill.
“I don’t like the way it’s going to benefit the already very wealthy and be a detriment to those who aren’t already wealthy,” said Wendy Archer, a Democrat who has lived in Columbia for 30 years.
U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, was one of 13 Republicans who voted against the version of the bill that passed the House on Nov. 16. He represents California’s Congressional District 4, which includes both Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.
McClintock issued a statement that explained one of his reasons for voting against the bill was because it would eliminate the state and local income tax deduction and limit the property tax deduction to $10,000, something that experts say would particularly impact high-tax states like California.
The Senate version would keep those provisions in place.
Democrats at Tuesday’s protest were not convinced that McClintock’s opposition to the House version of the bill was a sign that the lifelong conservative was extending an olive branch to the left.
“We have some really great congressional candidates and one of them (Jessica Morse) raised more money in the last quarter than McClintock,” said Robert Carabas, chairman of the Tuolumne County Democratic Club. “That’s because she’s not only getting money from Democrats, but across the board.”
Carabas said he’s seen an increase in support and enthusiasm for the local Democratic Party since Trump’s unexpected election victory more than a year ago. They’re planning to run candidates in 2018 for the county Board of Supervisors, school boards and Tuolumne Utilities District.
The protest was organized with the help of Carabas, Cedar Ridge resident Nan Fuller, and others in the past couple of days mostly through social media.
Fuller called the demonstration an example of “real grassroots,” as vehicles along Washington Street blared their horns in support of the protesters.
“There’s so much passion for principles we all hold that it’s not hard to get people out,” Fuller said.
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