Activists To Challenge GOP Lawmakers Over Tax Bill

WASHINGTON (CN) – Looking to reprise their role in the downfall of the Republican plans to repeal and replace the federal health care law, Democratic organizers are planning a week of action to pressure lawmakers on the GOP tax reform bill.

Speaking in a conference call on Wednesday night, MoveOn.org campaign director Sunjeev Bery said the group is circulating a petition which it will present to congressional Republicans after lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving recess.

“After members of Congress and senators get back from their Thanksgiving recess, they need to be facing all of us and hearing from folks across the country,” Bery said.

The blowback over the GOP tax plan reached new levels this week after Senate Republicans announced their bill would include a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people buy health insurance.

The move would reduce the deficit by $338 billion by 2027, but would result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance over the same time period, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Repealing the mandate without altering any other part of health care law would increase average premiums by 10 percent “in most years of the decade,” a CBO report released this month found.

The repeal would help Republicans keep deficits from the tax bill under the $1.5 trillion cap included in the reconciliation package passed last month, allowing them to use the special legislative vehicle that will allow the Senate to pass the bill without any votes from Democrats.

Speaking on a conference call Wednesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called the Republican tax plan a give away to the rich that Republicans plan to partially pay for by slashing health care and other social programs.

Republicans have been quick to push back against Sanders’ claims that the tax plan is a giveaway to the wealthy, arguing any tax plan that cuts rates across the board will favor the rich because they pay the largest share of taxes.

Comparing opposition to the bill to the groundswell that came out against the Republican health care efforts over the summer, Sanders said grassroots support will be key to defeating the plan.

“Our job, as you heard from previous speakers, whether in Maine, or Alaska or anyplace else in America, is to explain what’s going on to the American people, to hold members of the House and the Senate accountable,” Sanders said on the call.

But Jennifer Epps-Addison, network president and co-executive director for the Center for Popular Democracy, acknowledged the initial level of grassroots opposition to the tax reform plan is not quite as strong as it was with the health care repeal bills.

“We know that taxes are not a sexy issue to most people, right,” Epps-Addison said Wednesday. “We’re not paying attention to it like we pay attention to health care.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on its version of the tax plan on Thursday and the Senate could do the same on its own bill in the days after the Thanksgiving recess.

The current versions differ slightly, but both slash individual and corporate rates and eliminate many itemized deductions in favor of a larger standard deduction individuals can claim.

The House plan would compress the current seven tax brackets into four, while the Senate version would keep the current number of brackets. The Senate bill also includes a slightly larger child tax credit and phases in the cut to the corporate tax rate over time.

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