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Students protest Collins’ support of tax plan in Portland

December 8, 2017

Harry DiPrinzio
Students marched from Congress Square to Sen. Collins' office singing and carrying signs in opposition to her support for the GOP tax bill

A group of protesters organized by Bowdoin Climate Action occupied Senator Susan Collins’ Portland office Friday to speak out against her support for the GOP tax bill.

Friday’s protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations against Senator Collins’ support of the Senate tax plan. On Thursday a group of religious leaders occupied the Senator’s office and were arrested that evening.

On Monday, a group of protesters in Bangor were arrested while staging in sit-in in her office there.  

The group Friday, which included Bowdoin students as well as Brunswick residents, marched from Congress Square to Collins’ office at One Canal Plaza holding signs and singing songs.

Once at her office, a group of students went upstairs to read speeches to the staff.

They also delivered her a cake—her birthday was Thursday—which read “#GOP Tax Scam.”

Harry DiPrinzio

“I just think it’s important that Susan Collins actually listens to what people say, what her constituents are saying, what people want and actually thinks about the good of her people rather than just remaining wit her party just for the sake of partisanship, and stand up against corporate greed,” said Matthew Keller ’20 a member of BCA who read one of the speeches.

“Any Mainer knows all too well that many of our towns suffer from poverty,” said Calvin Soule ’20 in his speech. “And yet, this tax reform barely considers the most impoverished people in Maine and throughout this country. In their daily lives, impoverished people face the most problems, and the taxes they face only work to make those problems harder to overcome.”

Collins voted in favor of the Senate version of the tax reform bill last week. The bill includes a reduction in the tax rate for high-income individuals, as well as cuts to corporate tax rates. However, the Congressional Budget office found that people making less than $75,000 per year would see their taxes go up by 2027 if the bill were implemented. In addition to tax reform, the bill touches on other changes to American society—for example, allowing greater political activism by churches. 

“One of the things that I think is most upsetting about it is that it touches aspects of American life that have nothing to do with taxation,” BCA leader Isabella McCann ’19 told the Orient this week.

Both the Senate and House versions of the tax bill would also affect higher education—and particularly for wealthy schools like Bowdoin as a result of a proposed 1.4 percent tax on endowments greater than $500,000 per student.

Collins voted for the bill noting the inclusion of her amendments addressing property tax and medical expense deductions and promises from leadership that Medicare would not be affected. The bill has yet to be reconciled with the House’s version, but on Thursday she noted she may not support the final version if these changes are not included.

After reading speeches, students occupying the Senator’s office sang songs before dispersing. A reporter for the Bangor Daily News noted on Twitter that the demonstration was “polite and brief.”

“I feel very good about it because it plays a smaller role in a bigger piece of really strong pressure on Susan Collins,” said Soule. “We’re still letting her know that there are a variety of different voices in a variety of different places in Maine that feel like this bill is totally unjust.”

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