THE TRUMP TAX PROTEST COMETH. Rachel Maddow and David Cay Johnston may have had “Trump tax returns” Tuesday night, as her Twitter feed announced, but they didn’t have the Trump tax returns. No one has seen those — the full itemized forms that list sources of income — and President Trump and his 2016 campaign surrogates have offered a conflicting and bewildering array of reasons for not disclosing them.
Against this backdrop, a determined group of activists has vowed to amp up the pressure for their release and has spent the past two months planning April 15 tax marches in 80 cities in four nations to demand that Trump disclose his tax returns.
“One thing we did learn last night is that despite his claims, Trump can release his taxes at a moment’s notice,” said Delvone Michael, Washington director of the Working Families Party and a member of the Tax March executive committee. “We also learned that he made a lot of money in 2005, and we still don’t know where that money came from. … We also learned that his tax rate was lower than the rate of a lot of working families around the country.”
“That’s why we’re going to be marching on the 15th, to learn more,” he told Yahoo News.
The Tax March started with a tweet the day after the Women’s March on Jan. 21, when former “Colbert Report” writer Frank Lesser, author of the book “Sad Monsters,” tweeted:
Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on Tax Day to prove him wrong.
— Frank Lesser (@sadmonsters) January 22, 2017
“It kind of took off from there,” Michael recalled. “Frank was the initial tweeter, and then it started being retweeted within the progressive community.”
Temporarily called the “Million Deductions March,” within days it was relabeled the Tax March and organizers had started creating art for it. It was, Michael said, “a grassroots movement that erupted overnight of people looking for something to plug into.”
Today, marches are being planned around the country, with more than 50,000 attendees expected at each of the marches in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, according to Michael, and “at least a half million folks around the country and around the world” in total to “get to the bottom of what the president has to hide.”
The Tax March is being supported by the fiscal and organizing power of some of the progressive movement’s biggest actors: the American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Tax Fairness, the Center for Popular Democracy, the Indivisible Project, MoveOn.Org, Our Revolution and the Working Families Party.
In addition to Michael, the March’s eight-person executive committee includes Nelini Stamp, also with the Working Family Party and one of the original Occupy protest organizers in New York; National Women’s Legal Center vice president and former Hill staffer Anna Chu; Vermont Law School’s Jennifer Taub, a specialist in the financial crisis and white collar crime; Indivar Dutta-Gupta at Georgetown Law School; former White House National Economic Counsel policy adviser Chad Maisel, now with Indivisible; activist and writer Maura Quint; and Philadelphia-based economic justice organizer Gwen Snyder, who is the point person for those organizing local marchers.
“Many of the local marches are actually being organized by local activists in those cities,” said Michael.
“Anything that is resist Trump, people are definitely on board. We’re open-sourcing it. And then we have an executive committee, but we can’t run 80 marches.”
In January, Pew Research Center polling showed that 60 percent of Americans thought Trump had an obligation to release his tax returns, and only 33 percent did not. That sentiment was, like just about everything pollsters study these days, polarized by party, with 79 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners agreeing he should release his taxes, while only 38 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners agreeing he has a responsibility to do that.
DEPARTMENT OF BIPARTISAN COMITY. Democracy is in the streets, activists like to say, but after the election Washington arts organizer Philippa Hughes, a Democrat, decided that political divides need to be crossed over dinner. “After the election, I was so depressed and distraught, and feeling helpless, that I just wanted to do something,” she told WAMU 88.5. “I just decided I was going to do the thing I enjoy doing as an action, like kind of like my own civic action in which I would try to understand Trump voters.” She began hosting bipartisan dinners with Trump voters to break down the silos that divide right and left. It’s a way of handling the times she hopes others will replicate, and that she plans to continue in the months ahead.
WALL WATCH. The Texas Observer reports on the dilemma facing one family whose land has been targeted as a site for building a border wall along the Mexican border. The selection of that parcel of land predates Trump’s ascension to the presidency, but his promise to build an even bigger wall along the southern U.S. border could make stories like this more common in the years ahead.
The Observer: “The week before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Yvette Salinas received a letter she had been dreading for years: legal notice that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to build a border wall on her family’s land near Los Ebanos. The 21-page document, entitled a ‘Declaration of Taking,’ is addressed to her ailing mother, Maria Flores, who owns the property with her siblings. The letter offers Flores $2,900 for 1.2 acres near the Rio Grande. If she chooses not to accept the offer, the land could be seized through eminent domain. ‘It’s scary when you read it,’ Salinas says. ‘You feel like you have to sign.'”
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