SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Democratic lawmakers and activists plan to hit the streets Saturday at Tax Day protests around the country and demand President Donald Trump release his tax returns.
Organizers hope the protests – dubbed the Tax March – will resonate with Americans who think the president should release his returns, as his recent predecessors have done. Rallies are scheduled in nearly 150 cities, including Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco. Activists in West Palm Beach, Florida, will hold the “March a Lago” near the resort where Trump plans to spend the Easter weekend.
“We’re marching on Washington, D.C., and around the country to ask Donald Trump: WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?” the organizers say on their website. “We need a president who works for all Americans, and a tax system that does, too. Release your tax returns and commit to a fair tax system for the American people.”
Jennifer Taub sparked the effort following her participation in Boston’s women’s march the day after Trump’s inauguration. She concedes she isn’t sure what to expect – organizers think thousands will show up at some locations, possibly only dozens at others.
“I’m just a law professor who sent out a tweet,” said Taub, who teaches at Vermont Law School. “I’m psyched, and I think lots of people are psyched about this. We shall see.”
Taub’s tweet about planning a #showusyourtaxes protest stemmed from the women’s march and her general interest in financial matters. She has testified before Congress and wrote a book about the 2008 financial crisis.
“I’m all about ‘follow the money,'” Taub said. “It tells us the story about people’s priorities.”
Liberal advocacy groups and unions have helped spread the word and organized speakers for the largest rallies. Democratic lawmakers gave organizers a shout-out before heading home for their longest break since Trump took the oath of office on Jan. 20.
“There will be a lot of activism about doing the right thing for our country, telling the truth, holding the president to a standard that every president and every nominee of a party has been held to,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Over the last 40 years, presidents and major-party nominees have released some of their tax returns. The exception was Gerald Ford. Trump’s break with precedent has raised questions about possible conflicts of interest.
Trump cites an audit as the reason he won’t release his tax returns. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday, “We filed our financial disclosure forms the other day in a way that allows everyone to understand.”
Tax Day, in fact, is Tuesday, April 18, due to the weekend and a Washington, D.C., holiday Monday.
After stumbling on their health care legislation, Republicans are focused on tax overhaul. In a conference call with reporters, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York sought to tie Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns to prospects for a rewrite of the tax code.
“It’s going to make tax reform much harder. Any time the president proposes something, the average American’s going to say, ‘Oh, he’s not doing that because it’s good for me, he’s doing it as good for him,'” Schumer said. “So, for his own good, he ought to make them public.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., are scheduled to speak at the march in Washington. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is speaking in Chicago. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., will speak in Los Angeles.
“What you saw beginning the day after the inauguration has not let up,” Schakowsky said. “We’re talking about intensity. The only question any of us get now is: What can I do?”
The House Ways and Means Committee has legal authority to obtain confidential tax records. The committee could then vote to make them public. So far, Republicans have handily defeated Democratic efforts to take that course of action.
Now, Democrats are pushing for a vote on a bill from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., that would require the president and all major-party nominees to publicly disclose their previous three years of tax returns with the Office of Government Ethics or the Federal Election Commission. The Democrats have initiated a petition process that would lead to a House vote if they can get a majority of lawmakers to sign it – an unlikely prospect, but one that gives Democrats a chance to highlight which Republicans declined to help with their effort.
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