SANTA MONICA, Calif. (CN) – The Republican tax law signed by President Donald Trump this past December will be the focus of a group of Catholic nuns whose cross-country bus tour will end at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
The Nuns on the Bus tour kicked off from Santa Monica, California on Monday morning, with a sendoff by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a blessing of the bus that will carry 30 nuns on a speaking and engagement tour.
The aim is to highlight economic inequality from the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which critics say benefits the highest-income households while ignoring middle and lower-income Americans.
In an interview, the group’s lead organization Sister Simone Campbell said, “We’re not against people benefitting. We’re all for everyone benefiting. But that’s everyone – not just a few.”
Network Lobby for Catholic Justice, the group behind the excursion, toured across the country during the Obama administration speaking out on immigration policies and other topics, but this will be the first tour during the Trump administration.
“Right now, people are so hopeless, so angry, so separated, without vision. We’re presenting an alternative vision,” Campbell said.
That includes holding politicians accountable for their voting records, and the nuns’ event material shows who supported the Republican tax plan in each state.
The “Nuns on the Bus” tour will travel to 44 cities across 21 states in the next month, with stops in Nevada, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Florida.
"This isn't about politics, this is about faith in America," said Pelosi. “This is about our country. This is about faith in the institution of which we serve – a house of representatives.”
Just before autographing the bus, Pelosi said the nuns who engage people on the tour will be connecting with them in ways politicians cannot: sharing personal stories.
Angela Eilers’ 9-year-old daughter Myka has a congenital heart condition requiring multiple surgeries and medical treatment since she was born. According to Eilers, her daughter had medical bills of more than $500,000 by the time she was seven.
At Monday’s event, Eilers said she learned a lot about insurance when her husband lost his job. Eventually the family got insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and she wants politicians and voters to know that there are consequences for taking away people’s lifelines – including the law often referred to as Obamacare.
"Who we vote for matters,” said Eilers. “Protecting pre-existing conditions is just a talking point unless your representative has a plan. If they aren't listening how can they represent you?"
Sister Michele Morick, Ursuline Sister from Kentucky, will ride on the first and last legs of the tour. She hopes people see tax policies as defining who they vote for, because of the wide reach on health and social programs.
When asked what it will be like to drive up to Trump’s gated Florida neighborhood, Morick reasoned it would not be a warm welcome.
“We don’t imagine they’re going to be glad to see us,” said Morick, adding: “There are hecklers in most of the stops we make. Most people are polite and kind. The closer you cut to the bone talking about who benefits on tax plans, I imagine we’ll have more protests.”
Six months after the Republican tax plan – which simplified the tax structure – was signed into law, a June 2018 Monmouth University poll found just 34 percent of Americans said they approved of the tax reform package.
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