Something can still be done

This is a guide to taking action to stop the Republican tax bill from becoming law. In case this has been shared with you by someone other than me, I’m Pete Martin, and you can contact me at facebook.com/peterfmartin. I created this document on December 2 and plan to update it as often as necessary. Don’t hesistate to reach out if you have any questions or want to suggest changes or updates. And please share this with everyone you know, or copy and paste parts of it to share on Facebook, by email, or any other way you’d like. I don’t want or need any attribution; I just want calls to action like this one to reach everyone—and they’re most effective when they’re personalized and shared among people who know and trust each other.

___________________________

A friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook:

“Citizens exhausting themselves by calling their donor-owned representatives to beg them not to gut civil society = participatory democracy for the 21st century.”

I know a lot of us feel that way, and that calls to action like the one I’m sharing now are exhausting, so I’m sorry for be adding to the weight of the world with my bit of pressure. I wouldn’t be asking everyone to take action now if I didn’t think this action was so critical to so many of us.

As you probably know, the House and Senate each recently passed bills that would overhaul our federal tax system, redistributing the tax burden down to the less wealthy. The Senate did so in the middle of the night last night. The thought that a bill resembling either version could become law is terrifying, so this outreach is an invitation to take action now to try to block any Republican tax bill from becoming law.

To make this as digestable as possible, here’s what’s in the rest of this email. Only read the part(s) you want or need to.

  1. What the bill will do if it becomes law
  2. What still needs to happen for it to become law
  3. What to do right now to help block it from becoming law

___________________________

  1. What the bill will do if it becomes law

Since the Senate bill was being re-written, literally by hand, until just hours before the vote last night, almost no one knows everything in it, so we’re going to be learning the full answer to this question over days, or even weeks. But we know that provisions in either the House or the Senate version or both:

  • Add between $1 and $1.8 trillion to the deficit (source)
  • Permanently lower the corporate tax rate from a top rate of 35 percent to a flat rate of 20 percent (source)
  • Give over half of the total tax cut to the 20% of people making the most money and 20% of the total tax cut to the top 1% (source)
  • After a few years, raise net taxes on families making less than $200,000 a year, roughly 87 million families (source)
  • Repeal the deductions for state and local taxes, raising taxes on many families in states with high local taxes, like New York, New Jersey, California, and Maryland (source)
  • Repeal the ACA’s individual mandate, increasing health insurance premiums by an average of 10 percent and increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million (source)
  • Immediately trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare, which could grow up to $400 billion over 10 years (source)
  • Immediately trigger other spending cuts, including to the ACA’s risk adjustment program and student loan administration (source)
  • Raise taxes on people paying off student loans by repealing the deduction for interest paid on federal loans (source)
  • Imposing crushing new taxes on graduate students by making tuition waivers taxable income (source)
  • Repeal the medical expense deduction, which makes very high medical bills­­­­ tax deductible (source)
  • Eliminate the estate tax, which is only paid by about 5,500 rich families each year (source)
  • Allow 529 plans to fund K-12 education, offering a tax break for private school tuitions (source)
  • And lots and lots more

If this sounds too devastating to believe, you’re not alone: these policies are so bad that voters can’t believe they’re real, can’t believe that Republicans would really push for and pass such policies. But they have and did.

Why? As Republican Representative Chris Collins of Upstate New York told reporters, “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'” A former chief of staff at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said, about the Republican tax overhaul effort, “It’s not aimed at growth. It is not aimed at the middle class. It is at every turn carefully engineered to deliver a kiss to the donor class.”

  1. What still needs to happen for it to become law

In order for Congress to send a bill to the president to sign, the House and Senate need to pass the exact same bill. Since the House and Senate have passed different versions of the tax bill, they need to reconcile their versions, which they’ll do one of two ways.

Generally, they do this through a process called “conference,” in which leaders of the House and Senate meet to make changes to each version to move them closer to each other, and ultimately to a unified form that can be voted on again in each chamber. (Here’s an overview of some large differences in the bills passed by the House and Senate.)

Alternatively, since the Senate bill passed so narrowly (51-49) and there might not be 50 yes votes for a bill in any form other than what passed last night, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan could and might just bring the Senate bill up for a vote in the House, putting tremendous pressure on Republicans in the House to vote for the Senate bill in its exact form.

If either of those happen, Congress will have produced a finalized bill, which it will send to President Trump to sign into law. He’s eager to do that.

  1. What to do right now to help block it from becoming law

To stop the House and Senate bills from being reconciled into a form that President Trump can sign, we need to force the following things to happen:

  • The House to vote against the Senate’s version of the bill (in a vote that could come as early as Monday)
  • The House and Senate to fail to reconcile their bills in conference

To do that, we need to exert pressure on every Republican in Congress to vote against this bill if they have an opportunity to do so, with special focus on the House right now, since at least the House will have to take one more vote. You can exert this pressure by doing any or all of the following:

  1. If you’re represented by a Republican member of the House anywhere in the country, contact them. Call them. Call multiple times. Tell them that you’re watching their vote on the Senate bill and in conference. Show up in person at their office near you if you’re physically capable of doing so. Make clear, somehow, how important this vote is to you, and make sure they know it. (If you don’t know your representative, find them here.)
  2. Organize friends, family, and coworkers who share your House representative to take these actions with you. Motivate each other to call together Monday morning, and to call repeatedly as long as this is a live issue. Make an office visit together. Gather the support you need to do this activism yourself, and reach out to other you may be able to motivate into action.
  3. If you care to organize friends and family who live in other districts, use this interactive map to see which districts around the country are represented by Republicans. Republicans hold 240 seats in the House to the Democrats’ 202, so most Americans are represented by Republicans. Even if you live in a liberal city, you almost certainly have family members in other cities, suburbs, or exurbs who would be devastated by this bill and whose Republican representatives have so far supported it. Reach out to your friends and family to talk about the bill with them and see whether they’ll ask their representative to oppose it.
  4. Look for opportunities to join local activist groups planning to take action next week. I don’t yet know of specific events planned for tomorrow, Monday, or beyond, but some will surely happen. After I send this email, I’ll update this call to action in a Google Doc here; if you’re reading this anytime after December 2, click that link to learn whatever I’ve found out about coordinated actions you can join.
  5. If you live in any of the following states, contact your Republican senator(s) to let them know how you feel about their vote, that you plan on holding them accountable for it, and that you demand they vote against any further versions produced by a conference with the House: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. You can find all your senators’ office phone numbers here.
  6. If you know people in any of the states above (you do!), reach out to them to encourage them to call or visit their Republican senators’ offices to say the same.

If it’s helpful, feel very welcome to send this document to anyone, or copy and paste any parts of it into emails, Facebook posts, etc. that you share with your friends and networks. I don’t need any attribution; please just do whatever you can and want to do to spread this call far and wide.

Once we know how the tax bill effort turns out, we can and should turn to medium-term ways to hold Republicans accountable for their votes—namely, by working to kick them out of office next November. For now, if you want, you can donate now to a fund that will go to Democratic challengers of Republicans who voted for the tax bill. But, if you’re scared of the tax bill passing, please do not donate instead of taking an action above, since donating will not have any immediate impact toward stopping the bill. If, after reaching out to your elected officials and/or organizing people you know to do so, you also want to donate money with an eye toward next year’s elections, that’s one more way to take action.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at facebook.com/peterfmartin, and thank you so much for any actions you take to try to block this bill.

Leave a reply