More than 350 people gathered on the front steps of the Missoula County Courthouse in opposition to the Republican tax bill on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The “Tax Scam Rally” was organized by Missoula Rises: Organization and Action Founded in Love, a nonpartisan grassroots organization that advocates for human rights.
The rally started out with chants of “tax the rich, not the sick,” and rally-goers held signs with phrases like “kill the bill” and “trickle down’s a myth.”
Erin Erickson, a Missoula Rises organizer, said the tax bill is an assault on the poor and strips citizens of vital social services while helping corporations and the wealthy.
The bill, which the House and Senate are now negotiating in a conference committee, contains a provision repealing the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires those who decline to purchase insurance to pay a fee. Repeal of that provision could undermine the ACA by causing premiums to go up, which could price many Americans out of health insurance.
Erickson also said that the bill will decrease the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent.
“No parts of this bill have its roots in justice and representation,” said John Powers, a member of Action for Justice.
Karen Wickersham, a protester, said the bill is a giveaway to corporations that erodes the middle class.
Missoula Rises and rally-goers called on Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte to vote against the final bill, in the interest of Montanans.
Erickson asked that attendees educate their neighbors and community members on the negative effects of the bill, write letters to the editor and call their representatives to voice opposition.
Erickson said Missoula Rises is working together with grassroots organizations in Washington, Idaho, California and Oregon. Kalispell had a similar rally on Tuesday, and Helena and Bozeman will have rallies on Thursday in opposition to the tax bill.
If the bill becomes law, Erickson said, the opposition have to go back to the drawing board. She said a focus on education will be key, since rallies aren’t always enough.
“When we educate our neighbors, they’ll see the impacts,” Erickson said.