Kim Theis, a Turlock resident for more than 20 years, is worried about her future with what she calls a tax reform assault on middle-income families in California's Central Valley and throughout the country.
She and her husband have been planning their retirement for the past 10 years, and they're fearful elected Republicans in Washington D.C. will approve a tax reform plan that decimates their savings with higher taxes.
That's why Theis on Monday morning joined about 60 demonstrators with picket signs outside the Salida office of Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who voted in favor of the GOP tax plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month, seeking to enact $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals.
"I'm terrified that Jeff Denham has voted for this thing, that I'm going to lose my retirement," said Theis, who was recently diagnosed with a debilitating back disease. Her husband suffers with a heart condition.
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Denham has said the House's tax reform plan will reduce the tax burden for individuals and families in all tax brackets, making businesses more competitive and growing the economy. On Monday, his office responded to the demonstration with a statement from the congressman to The Bee.
“The First Amendment guarantees the right of our citizens to conduct a peaceful public assembly," Denham said. "As such, it is important that my constituents are able to have their voices heard, and I appreciate meaningful constructive dialogue on the toughest issues that face our nation."
Within the framework of the tax plan passed in the House is a provision to kill SALT, deductions for State And Local Taxes. Those who itemize could lose some big deductions. Theis said she and her husband paid $9,000 in taxes last year, and the Republican plan supported by Denham will double that.
"We just need somebody who's going to represent us," Theis said. "Jeff Denham does not represent us. He represents himself."
The U.S. Senate passed its own Republican written tax reform plan early Saturday morning. The two congressional chambers are expected to go to conference to reconcile the two bills.
Wayne Adler, one of the organizers of Monday's demonstration, said the Republican tax reform supported by Denham is simply a "tax scam." He said Denham and others in Congress should not give trillions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations and hope it trickles down to middle-income families.
“From students to homeowners, this tax scam will raise taxes on hardworking families," said Adler of Indivisble Manteca. "This is outrageous, and we in the Central Valley will not stand by quietly and let Jeff Denham and his Republican colleagues raise our taxes."
Adler's group was joined by Stanislaus County residents and other Democrat-leaning groups speaking out against the GOP’s legislative agenda. Indivisible Manteca says it wants to hold Denham accountable for his votes. But Adler said Monday their effort goes beyond partisan ideals, because elected officials – Republicans or Democrats – have to represent their constituents.
"Congressman Denham made a big mistake voting against his constituents, all to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent," Adler said.
Sean Rodgers of Modesto said the political effort in the 1980s to shift the tax burden to middle-income families was a mistake. He says the current Republican tax plan only compounds the mistake made in Congress nearly 40 years ago.
"I don't like that it gives tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the middle class," Rodgers said. "And I'm also concerned about tax cuts to Medicare and Medicaid."
Demetria Marrow moved to Modesto six years ago after retiring from her job as a municipal employee in the Bay Area. She says Denham has proven his votes are not aligned with his constituents, and she's worried her healthcare costs will skyrocket under the Republican tax plan.
"I'm scared for my future, being retired," Marrow said outside Denham's office Monday. "If I lose my healthcare and Medicare goes away, along with a host of other things, I'm screwed."