The theme of the day was, “We pay our taxes. Are we getting what we need?”
The day featured a broad array of speakers from political, social, and faith-based groups that each highlighted the inequities inherent in a tax code rigged to favor the privileged and the powerful and the consequences of an American budget increasingly being pushed to favor militarism and devalue social and societal needs.
Protesters began the day outside Bank of America, denouncing it for paying no federal taxes in 2013, a practice made possible by loopholes carved out in tax law for companies like Bank of America, General Electric, and Exxon Mobil, which are among the largest and most profitable companies in the world. The crowd was vibrant and with banners and posters flying high drew the attention of hundreds of passersby and elicited more than a few honks and waves from members of the public.
In the afternoon, the group marched to a nearby church and held a forum to hear from community and political leaders about how we got to this point and what we can do about it. Speakers ranged from Senator Elizabeth Warren (by video) to Grace Ross from the National Alliance of HUD Tenants to the venerable civil rights activist and former state representative Mel King to freshman Congresswoman Katherine Clark. A framework for action included a diverse set of initiatives, including immediate measures like collecting signatures for the Raise Up Massachusetts minimum wage and earned sick time ballot initiatives, as championed by Harris Gruman of the SEIU State Council, to medium-term measures like lobbying the six Massachusetts congressmen who voted NO to the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Better Off Budget last week, as championed by Michael Kane, to more long-term initiatives like proposals to wipe out childhood poverty in Massachusetts, as championed by gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick.
Progressive Newton is no stranger to the Raise Up Massachusetts ballot initiatives, as it helped to collect thousands of signatures in the first round of petitioning last fall. The day ended with thanks from the organizers, and the crowd dispersed with a renewed vision for the future of our society and an enriched understanding of the trickle-down consequences of a budget that favors the few.
(See more about what we’re doing to close corporate tax loopholes at Progressive Massachusetts’s Shared Prosperity Agenda.)
Daniel Habtemariam is a Database Administrator at Harvard University and is active in Progressive Newton.
From Budget for All: