By CARL GREEN
Belleville, IL – While President Trump was in St. Charles, MO promoting his so-called “tax reform” bill recently, the Labor Movement was rallying to oppose the plan as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy that will hurt workers and middle-class families.
About 50 union members, most of them from Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 434, met after school with congressional candidate Brendan Kelly under appropriately threatening skies outside the union Shop ’n Save grocery store on Carlyle Avenue.
Among its many downsides, the GOP tax bill will eliminate teachers’ ability to deduct classroom expenses they pay for out of their own pockets from their taxes while reducing revenue that supports public education.
Kelly, the St. Clair County state’s attorney, is the leading candidate in the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, challenging incumbent Republican and union opponent Mike Bost.
While Trump campaigned on tax relief for the middle class, Kelly said the GOP tax bill is a giveaway to the powers-that-be that will only bring hardship to working people.
“Yes, we need tax reform,” Kelly said. “Everybody here needs some tax relief. The way our tax system works is really screwed up at the state level and at the federal level. But the changes they are making are the exact opposite of the kind of changes people were voting for, even the people who voted for Trump.
“They wanted real tax reform; they wanted to simplify it. Sure, they are simplifying some parts, but they are just taking one set of complicated loopholes and replacing it with another set of complicated loopholes.”
One of the worst parts is the plan will add $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit – a burden that our generation’s children and grandchildren will have to bear, Kelly said.
“If they don’t find additional funds to make up for that deficit, what winds up getting cut are all kinds of programs,” Kelly said, including “at least another $25 billion from Medicare.”
NOT GETTING IT
“That is the exact opposite of what we need. We need real reform, but this isn’t it,” Kelly said, drawing cheers from the teachers and other union members.
“The folks that are in power right now, they still aren’t listening. They aren’t getting it,” Kelly said. “Like a poor marksman, they keep missing the target. They keep going in the opposite direction of what is needed.”
Trump and Bost won in the 12th District in the last election, Kelly said, but pro-union Democrats like U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth also won in the district.
“This is not a left versus right situation, and this is not a left versus right district. This is about the top versus the bottom, this is an up versus down,” he said.
“The elite few at the top, where power keeps being consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer people, that is the problem we are seeing,” he added. “For the life of me, I cannot figure out what they are trying to do with this tax bill. If you look at it with any sense of conscience about right or wrong and what’s best for the country, it doesn’t make any sense.”
PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION
But he’s optimistic about voters making a change in Congress.
“The good thing is people are awake, they are paying attention and understand what’s going on,” Kelly said. “They realize that the decisions being made now are dreadfully in the wrong direction.”