The “Tax The Rich Bus Tour” is traveling across the country this summer in an effort to drum up support for repealing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and it made a stop in Louisville on Saturday.
Several local and Kentucky leaders — including U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth — spoke during the press conference outside Metro Hall and highlighted their disappointment in the federal tax cut, which they said has benefited the wealthiest Americans instead of lower-to-middle-income workers.
President Donald Trump signed into law the Republican-backed tax overhaul in December 2017.
Considered by many as Trump’s biggest legislative victory of his presidency, the tax bill slashed the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35% and temporarily lowered individual rates, among other provisions.
It also eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate that penalized Americans who do not purchase health insurance.
“We need to be clear,” said Richard Becker, a union organizer for the Louisville-based Service Employees International Union 320. “By passing a massive tax cut for rich Americans, the Republicans made it harder for working Americans to get ahead.”
Trump and other supporters of the federal tax cut have pointed out that the U.S. economy is enjoying its longest ever uninterrupted stretch of expansion, with July marking the 121st month of growth.
But economists have warned the nation’s economic growth is slowing, with recession fears hovering and Trump’s spate of tariffs and trade wars causing unease.
And while Republicans claimed the tax plan would pay for itself, critics have pointed to a federal deficit that keeps growing, with the Congressional Budget Office forecasting the deficit will top $1 trillion annually starting in 2022.
Yarmuth is the chair of the House Budget Committee and was its ranking Democrat when Republicans held the majority in 2017 and passed what he called the “tax scam.”
“They said this tax cut will benefit the middle class. It will stimulate the economy,” Yarmuth of Republican lawmakers. “Well, the American people didn’t believe it then. They don’t believe it now.”
Yarmuth said workers earning around $50,000 per year have saved a “couple hundred bucks” under the new tax law.
“That’s not nothing,” Yarmuth said. “But millionaires are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The bus tour also seeks to empower local elected officials, activists and national organizations to demand the rich and corporations “pay their fair share,” according to Tax March, the tour’s organizer.
Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, and Kumar Rashad, a math teacher at Breckinridge Metropolitan High School, said tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are morally wrong when Kentucky faces school funding issues and a pension crisis.
Rashad added that the government should think about children in Louisville, where a budget crisis has resulted in cuts to pools, libraries and, most recently, crossing guards.
“Taxing the rich will not hurt them,” Rashad said. “But not taxing the rich will continue hurting us.”
The Tax the Rich Bus Tour started in Miami on June 25 to coincide with the first set of debates among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
The tour has since made stops in more than 20 states and ends Tuesday in Detroit, where the next round of debates will be held.