“Bruce Poliquin is hurting Maine’s small business owners in order to give himself and his rich friends a big tax break,” said Gary Friedmann, co-owner of Bar Harbor Community Farm, standing outside Rep. Poliquin’s Bangor office on Thursday. “Tax breaks for the super rich and multinational corporations are not what my business needs. We need affordable health care for our employees, not Wall Street windfalls.”
Friedmann and other Second-District constituents delivered more than a thousand personal messages to Poliquin and to Sen. Susan Collins hours before the House vote on the Republican tax package, urging them to reject the legislation. Poliquin joined most of his GOP colleagues in voting for the measure, which passed 227 to 205, with 13 Republicans joining all House Democrats in opposition.
This week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced that, because the tax plan adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit, the bill would automatically trigger $25 billion in annual cuts to Medicare, starting next year. Additional cuts to health care and other federal programs would likely follow.
“This plan not only puts my patients’ health at risk, it will also severely damage Maine’s health care system,” said Tim Conmee, a nurse from Orrington speaking outside Poliquin’s office. “People won’t get the care they need, rural hospitals will close, and health care professionals like me will be laid off.”
The Senate version of the tax bill would also eliminate the individual mandate within the Affordable Care Act, crashing insurance markets across the country, driving up premiums and reducing access to health care, according to independent analyses.
Poliquin’s Democratic opponents were quick to attack his vote. Rep. Jared Golden lamented that 80% of the benefit of the legislation will go to the top 1%, saying “the rich will get richer and the sick will get sicker.” Lucas St. Clair termed it “a scheme to further stack the deck against working people.”
Candidate Jonathan Fulford highlighted a new Joint Committee on Taxation report, released just before the House vote, finding that American families making less than $75,000 will face a tax increase under the bill.
“Until we stop electing millionaires and political insiders who are beholden to millionaires from both parties, this is our future – one in which the rich get richer and the American Dream dies,” said Fulford.
Maine’s other House member, Chellie Pingree, voted against the tax bill, and U.S. Senator Angus King penned an op-ed Thursday blasting the Senate tax package. Sen. Susan Collins is still undecided but has voiced opposition to aspects of the legislation, including the repeal of the individual mandate and other health care cuts.
“We know that Mainers want a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and we invest in our communities,” said Will Ikard, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, which helped to organize the Bangor protest. “Rep. Poliquin and Sen. Collins need to do what is best for their constituents and reject any tax plan that gives one penny in new tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations or makes any cuts to important social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Photo: Farmer Gary Friedmann speaks in Bangor.