- Jeremy P. Kelley Staff Writer
Bernie Sanders whipped up a crowd of 1,300 people in Dayton on Saturday, voicing strong opposition to the tax bill that U.S. Senate Republicans passed 10 hours earlier, in a near campaign-style rally.
The Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate called the tax bill “a moral outrage” and “class warfare,” saying that Republicans are “looting the federal government” to give tax breaks to people who don’t need them.
“The legislation passed last night gives incredibly large tax breaks to the very, very wealthy, it raises taxes on millions of middle-class families, it leaves 13 million more Americans without health insurance … and it raises the deficit by $1.4 trillion,” Sanders said.
Saturday’s event at the Dayton Masonic Center was part of a four-city tour organized by MoveOn.org and Not One Penny, which oppose the tax bill. In yet another example of the chasm between political parties, Democrats called the tax bill “a scam” and “thievery,” while Republicans called it “cause for celebration” and likened it to a Christmas present.
President Donald Trump lauded the bill in an early morning tweet, saying that America is “one step closer to delivering massive tax cuts for working families.”
The House and Senate versions of the bill still have to be reconciled, and they have major differences in tax brackets, income cutoffs, deductions and credits on mortgages, children, teacher expenses and more. Whether people would save or pay more will depend on how their individual circumstances fit those changes.
According to a New York Times data analysis, almost all middle-class households who take the standard deduction on their taxes would see a tax cut in Year 1 of the Senate plan. But middle-class households that itemize their deductions would be fairly split between tax cuts and tax increases depending on their circumstances.
Sanders urged people to call their representatives and senators now to have an impact on how the final bill is presented to Trump in the coming weeks.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday the GOP Senate tax plan would add more than $1 trillion dollars to the budget deficit in 10 years. If signed by Trump before Dec. 31, it would affect how much is withheld from Americans’ paychecks in 2018, but wouldn’t affect the tax returns we file until spring of 2019.
The large cut in corporate tax rates in the Senate bill would be permanent, while the tax rate cuts for individuals would expire after 2025.
Sanders argued the tax bill is part of a larger pattern where Trump campaigned on helping working families, but is now championing policies that will hurt them.
“A year has come and gone since Mr. Trump won, and I think it is now clear to most Americans that Donald Trump was not telling the truth,” Sanders said.
The Ohio Republican Party called Sanders’ arguments about a struggling America “a socialist sales pitch.”
“Ohio voters rejected the far-left, job-killing economic policies of Sanders and (Sherrod) Brown last year by overwhelmingly electing President Trump,” Ohio Republican Party Executive Director Rob Secaur said in a statement. “With the economy booming and tax reform on the horizon, Sanders and Brown are out of touch and out of luck in Ohio.”
Many at the rally said they were unsure of details in the tax bill given last-minute changes.
Wittenberg University professor Lori Askeland said she worries about potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. She said Medicaid was crucial in helping her when she was a foster parent and still going to school. She worries that cuts could mean younger people now won’t get the help that allowed her to establish her career.
Dennis Slamka of Miamisburg said the bill will mainly benefit the top 1 percent in the economy, adding that “our kids are going to be paying for this tax break” because of its impact on federal deficits.
Dayton resident Ed Lacy expressed concern that one policy tweak in the bill might make it harder for people to afford graduate school.
“Bernie has a chance to galvanize people who would like to see a more proper and responsive government restored in this country that will look to the needs of working people and protect the environment and undo some of the corporate excesses that are flying right now,” Lacy said.
Before Sanders spoke, a variety of parents, students and politicians addressed the crowd about how the tax bill would affect their health care, schools and finances.
Newly elected Dayton school board member Mohamed Al-Hamdani said “the battle just started” in a class war that he said Republicans are advancing via the tax bill. Former state senator Nina Turner, a leader of Sanders’ efforts in Ohio, said the trickle-down economic policies of the Republican bill are a trick that doesn’t work.
Kendra Bean, a physical therapist from Springboro, said many of the people she treats are dependent on Medicaid. She worries about the impact of the tax bill, and said she supports Sanders’ approach.
“He really speaks to us as part of us,” Bean said. “We’re all very tired of the top 1 percent making all the decisions for us.”