In honor of tax day, US Uncut is launching nationwide actions in more than 100 separate cities. The group is calling upon Americans to resist an unfair taxation system that permits wealthy people and corporations to dodge paying their fair share while poor people are expected to suffer under cuts in their health services and educational systems.
US Uncut stresses the problem of tax dodging is systemic. According to the Government Accountability Office, eighty-three of the top 100 US companies use tax havens to dodge taxes.
“Why are we cutting $400 million from local law enforcement funding, while corporations like GE, Verizon, Bank of America, and FedEx continue to get away with not paying any taxes year after year?” asked Carl Gibson of US Uncut Mississippi, “If GE alone paid their fair share of taxes, then we could ‘uncut’ nearly $2 billion in job training programs. Do we want good jobs in America or do we want tax cheats?”
Today, on the anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, Boston activists are planning a March for Common Sense with rallying cries such as: “The Cuts are coming! The Cuts are coming!”
Earl James, an unemployed veteran and US Uncut supporter, wants tax revenue invested in domestic programs rather than hidden in offshore bank accounts.
“I’m a veteran that’s been unemployed for over 99 months now, and on the same day I heard about GE’s tax evasion, I got a letter saying my VA benefits were being reduced…. Why not invest in jobs for veterans and VA benefits for those who served instead of letting tax cheats like GE’s Jeffrey Immelt get away with cheating our country?”
In Washington, DC, a Power Shift flash mob led by US Uncut’s Carl Gibson successfully shut down a BP gas station. The protest was in response to BP’s $9.9 billion tax credit from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which nearly matches the EPA’s entire annual operating budget.
Additionally, budget cut protests continue across the country. Rain couldn’t stop more than 150 protesters from participating in a show of solidarity outside the Mercer County Courthouse in Pennsylvania this weekend. The state is set for a cut of $1.2 billion to education under Governor Tom Corbett’s budget plan.
“You just can’t balance the budget on the backs of the working people in the country or in the state,” said Chaz Rice, Chair of the Mercer Democratic Committee.
Students in Katy, Texas have chosen a different approach to protesting. Following two days of protest last week at multiple campuses, the students are now engaging in a letter-writing campaign to lawmakers in Austin. Katy ISD faces a $50 million budget shortfall due to state budget cuts.
In New Jersey, union leaders have called for members to protest the firing of Paterson’s 125 police officers (a quarter of the city’s total force). The city has already eliminated 392 municipal workers. In the meantime, eighteen Guardian Angels (read: unarmed civilians) are patrolling the city. Mayor Jeffery Jones says the Angels can play a “significant role” in public safety. The group “keeps an eye on neighborhoods, breaks up fights, and makes citizen arrests.”
The effects of the budget cuts have already been manifesting in ugly ways. In Kentucky, job losses and foreclosures have resulted in a spike of homelessness. With the state unable (or unwilling) to fill the void, the homeless turn to shelters. Unfortunately, with so many in need, the shelters can’t keep up. The Salvation Army in Paducah has had to send families (married couples only) to go live in the woods, armed with nothing more than tents.