Volunteers with The Action, an organization composed of and run by former Obama campaign volunteers, held a day of action in San Leandro Saturday to influence congressmembers to support President Barack Obama’s plan to end the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy.
More than 100 events were held in 30 states Saturday, The Action’s website said, varying from phone banks to fiscal cliff themed Christmas caroling outside the offices of Republican congressmembers.
Volunteers in California met in private homes and coffee shops to call Democrats living in Republican congressional districts. Their aim was to convince them to call their congress member and show their support for ending the cuts for the wealthy and maintaining the existing cuts for middle-income families.
If the tax cuts expire, middle class families will have to pay anywhere from $1,310 to $5,783 more a year, according to public policy think tank, Tax Foundation.
A group of nine volunteers met at the Zocalo Coffeehouse in San Leandro to call the constituents of Congressmember Ken Calvert, of the 44th Congressional District, which covers the Riverside area. Calvert lost his re-election bid on Nov. 6 to Democratic candidate Janice Hahn, but he will still be voting on the tax issue before the Dec. 31 deadline.
Frank Tsai, 64, a volunteer of the 2012 Obama campaign, led a group of volunteers in different locations throughout the Bay Area as phone bank coordinator in San Leandro. According to Tsai, the majority of volunteers at the phone bank were former volunteers from the Obama campaign.
“We want to activate the constituents in their districts to make their voices heard,” said Tsai. “For me, I think contact with constituents is the most effective way of achieving our goals.”
Lorri Foster, a former Obama campaign volunteer at Saturday’s phone bank, was surprised by the response she received from constituents.
“People I’ve reached without exception have agreed to call their congressman, not a single person has been negative,” Foster said. “We’re 22 votes short on the tax issue. Even if all Democrats in the House of Representatives stick together, we will still be 22 votes short.”
Foster believes the 85 congressmembers who lost their re-election bids will be the most likely to break with the party line on voting on the Bush Tax Cuts before the Dec. 31 deadline.
The Action’s efforts throughout the nation come in light of the stalemate in Washington, where President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been at odds over the creation of a new tax plan.
On Monday, Boehner presented an alternative plan that was rejected by the White House. Boehner’s plan would create $800 billion in revenue by making reforms to entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and claims to build off the Simpson-Bowles Plan presented to Congress last year. His plan would not raise taxes on any income bracket.
Boehner said “new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates,” in his letter to the White House outlining the new plan.
The Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending. These cuts would be over and above the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.”
On Saturday, President Obama said it is “unacceptable for some Republicans in Congress to hold middle class tax cuts hostage simply because they refuse to let tax rates go up on the wealthiest Americans.”
The White House, in its refusal of the plan presented by Boehner, said the new plan “does not meet the test of balance.”
House Republicans cited any tax increase would be detrimental to small businesses and the economy. But economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said an increase on small businesses “would be trivial” and would affect only 3 percent of small businesses.
“Small businesses who are struggling to make payroll and working families who have tightened their belts to meet their budgets cannot afford to be hit with a massive tax increase come January,” said Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Inspired by the President’s Twitter conversation last week, #My2K, The Action’s next plan is for volunteers to write letters and organize office visits to their congressmen, letting them know what a $2,000 tax increase on the middle class would mean to them. Their goal is to move into this phase next week.
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, December 6th, 2012 at 1:11 pm.