On Thursday outside of Representative Bruce Poliquin's Bangor office, Mainers gathered to urge Poliquin and Senator Susan Collins to reject the proposed tax plan moving through Congress. The Maine Small Business Coalition and Mainers for Accountable Leadership, which together organized the event, delivered over 1,000 petition messages from Mainers, demanding that they oppose the plan. Small business owners, seniors, and health professionals from the Second Congressional District spoke on how the tax proposal would detrimentally affect programs that Mainers depend on in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy and out of state corporations.
Gary Friedmann, co-owner of Bar Harbor Community Farm, explained why so many small business owners oppose this plan: "Tax breaks for the super rich and multinational corporations are not what my business needs. We need affordable health care for our employees, not Wall Street windfalls. Bruce Poliquin is hurting Maine's small business owners in order to give himself and his rich friends a big tax break."
The most recent version of the Senate bill would eliminate crucial parts of the Affordable Care Act, a back-door attempt to repeal the popular health care program. Additionally, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced this week that, because the tax plan adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit, the bill would automatically trigger $25 billion in cuts to Medicare due to GOP-passed sequester rules.
Tim Conmee, a registered nurse from Orrington, told the assembled crowd how the tax plan would hurt Mainers’ health and jobs by cutting funding for life-saving programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
"This plan not only puts my patients’ health at risk, it will also severely damage Maine's health care system," said Conmee. “People won't get the care they need, rural hospitals will close, and health care professionals like me will be laid off."
Bangor resident Heather Keaton and her teenage daughter are both disabled and rely on Medicaid for their health care.
"Bruce Poliquin voted for a tax plan and a budget that cut a trillion dollars from Medicaid and gives a handful of rich Americans like him a huge a tax break," Keaton said. "That is not what we sent him to Washington to do. I'm here to tell Poliquin I'm a health care voter and plan to hold him accountable next November for choosing a tax break for himself over my and my daughter's health."
The House is expected to vote on the bill today, while the Senate is expected to vote on the bill after Thanksgiving.
"We know that Mainers want a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and we invest in our communities,” said MSBC director Will Ikard. "Rep. Poliquin and Sen. Collins need to do what is best for their constituents and reject any tax plan that gives one penny in new tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations or makes any cuts to important social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."