Tax March Modesto, part of a nationwide effort Saturday, targeted President Donald Trump for not releasing his tax records and U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham for supporting the president’s decision.
Carrying a variety of protest signs and chanting slogans including “No more secrets, no more lies, show your taxes, show your ties,” marchers gathered at the Five Points intersection leading into downtown, then walked up J Street for a rally at Tenth Street Plaza in front of the city-county government building. Organizers estimated that as many as 400 people participated.
There was no visible organized opposition to Tax March Modesto, but two men in a pickup truck did drive the march route several times, holding a Trump ballcap out from the passenger-side window and shouting “Trump No. 1.”
Though telling the president he needs to release his tax information was the focus of the march, the bigger message was “dump Trump, defeat Denham,” Democratic Women’s Club of Stanislaus County President and founder Patty Hughes told those gathered.
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Through efforts by Tax March Modesto partners including Stanislaus Resistance, Our Revolution CA District 10, Be the Change Turlock, Modesto Progressive Democrats and others, “we’re going to flip him and flip him good,” Hughes said, meaning turning Denham’s 10th Congressional District from Republican to Democrat. She encouraged the crowd to show its strength by registering at DefeatDenham.com.
By failing to release his tax returns, Hughes told the marchers, Trump has violated two of the nation’s most fundamental values: transparency and accountability in government. “We believe that public servants are accountable to the people who elect them,” she had said in a news release before the march. “The American people have a right to know the financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest of their elected leaders.”
Citing the results of an ABC News and Washington Post poll, she said 74 percent of Americans want the president to release his tax returns.
Hughes’ co-host at the Tenth Street Plaza rally was Modesto businessman and Modesto Progressive Democrats member Chris Ricci. He and Hughes met with Denham, he said, and asked why the congressman would not call for the president to release his tax records. Denham’s reply, Ricci said, was that were Trump to do so, his business competitors would know what he’s up to. “You’re the president of the United States and you’re worried about your business?” Ricci exclaimed.
“American institutions are the envy of the world because we can trust them,” Ricci said. “We have faith in the institutions because the people in them have integrity. Donald Trump has none.”
Among the handful of speakers at the Tenth Street Plaza rally was Larry Giventer, professor emeritus in the department of political science and public administration at California State University, Stanislaus. A lot of people resent the so-called 1 percent, which includes Trump, he said, but Giventer said he’s glad the 1 percent exists, because it pays more than 40 percent of the U.S. income tax.
But income tax is just one measure. There also are local and state taxes, including sales taxes, Giventer said. That’s where the gap is narrower. Those in higher tax brackets buy the same essentials as the rest of us, he said, but they buy far more services, and those services aren’t taxed.
“In any case,” Giventer said, “he ought to show what he pays in state and local taxes, and his deductions.”
The president should reveal his charitable contributions – which are deductible, Giventer said. A New York Times report indicates Trump does very little charitably, the professor added.