Local Leaders Protest GOP Tax Bill

Representatives from various organizations and businesses in front of the Roanoke Public Library on Jefferson St. downtown.

by Freeda Cathcart

Local leaders gathered in front of the Roanoke public library to protest the GOP tax bill that would cut taxes for the rich and take money from the poor. Over 250,000 have signed the NotOnePenny.org petition to protest cutting taxes for billionaires while raising costs for everyone else.

Brenda Hale, president of the Roanoke Branch NAACP stated, “Taxation without Representation,” be about the majority of your constituency! Represent us, the Middle Class and the Poor!”

David Denham Chapter Leader of Roanoke Valley Represent US exclaimed, “It’s shocking Republican congressmen have admitted it’s a bad bill but their billionaire donors have told them if they don’t vote for it that they would no longer support their campaigns.”

Yzavia Haney, a veteran and SCLC secretary, worried about the benefits veterans would lose. “The current legislation would eliminate the “Hire More Veterans” program and leave people who have served our nation without gainful employment, she explained. Adding insult to injury it also gets rid of the deduction for interest on student loans which veterans need to receive degrees for their new careers after they leave the military.”

Robin Barnhill, a retired hospital manager, spoke about how eliminating the ACA individual mandate would cause healthcare costs to rise for everyone. “Around 13- million people will lose their health insurance and when they have a health crisis they will go to the Emergency Room instead of receiving the care that would have prevented the crisis, Barnhill said. The higher costs of providing care will be passed on to everyone else through higher insurance premiums.”

Steve McBride, a doctoral student at Virginia Tech and former candidate for the House of Delegates, stated, “It’s important that the Senate doesn’t tax graduate students’ waived tuition fees. The House version would tax my waived tuition as taxable income which would greatly harm my ability to provide for my family.” According to Carnegie Mellon’s calculations a graduate student would go from paying $2,800 in taxes on a $32,000 stipend to over $10,000 in taxes.

With Indivisible Virginia, there is bi-partisan opposition to the tax plans. Many Republican House Representatives voted against it and several Republican Senators are hesitant to vote for the Senate tax bill. Conservative Senators are concerned about the increasing the deficit by over one trillion dollars. Others are worried about giving tax cuts to large corporations while increasing taxes on small businesses. Many CEO’s of large corporations have admitted they are not planning on increasing wages or creating more jobs. Senator Kaine and Senator Warner are to be commended for voting against the bill. Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. Griffith voted for the House version of the Tax Bill.

“The GOP tax bills would give the American people a lump of coal for Christmas instead of the prosperity they deserve.”