Building on last fall’s Occupy Ithaca protests, local activists plan to hold a rally near the Commons on Tuesday to protest “unfair” tax policies that they say favor the top one percent of wage earners and corporations.
The rally will coincide with Tax Day, the day income tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service. Protesters will call on Congress to change the tax code so the wealthiest Americans pay their “fair share,” according to a statement from the rally’s organizers, Finger Lakes MoveOn.org and the Tompkins County Workers’ Center.
“If we tax millionaires and corporations, the one percent, their fair share, our communities can invest in our schools and job training programs instead of deciding which teachers to lay off and what to cut next,” the groups said.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which started as a grassroots protest in New York City, spread to Ithaca in October, when an estimated 200 people protested near the Commons. Separate movements also arose at Cornell and Ithaca College. In November, members of Occupy Ithaca set up camp in Dewitt Park, in downtown Ithaca, in response to the eviction of protesters from Zuccotti Park in NYC.
According to The Ithaca Journal, the event is part of a national day of action known as “Tax the 1 percent” and will involve more than 500 events across the country. It comes after a week of training in nonviolent protest tactics called “The 99-percent Spring,” which aimed to educate 100,000 people nationwide on actions “in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi,” according to the event’s website. The day of action was supported by the leaders of more than 40 organizations, including MoveOn, Greenpeace, the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers.
Organizers said taxing the rich is the fastest way to rebuild the economy after the 2008 financial crisis, which was due in part to Wall Street firms’ bets on risky mortgages, according to The New York Times. They said Congress must close loopholes that allow the rich, as well as corporations, to pay lower tax rates than middle-class Americans. Critics, however, have charged that the movement lacks a coherent vision or a concrete set of ideas about how to reduce income inequality in the U.S, according to The New York Times.
"We're here today to express our outrage that the rich and corporations like General Electric Corp. have been allowed to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us and aren't paying their fair share to help rebuild the economy," Nick Sledziona, a local MoveOn.org member and Community Union Organizer with the Workers' Center, told The Journal. "Taxing the one percent is the quickest way to rebuild our economy so that it works for everyone. We pay our fair share of taxes. Corporations like [General Electric] should too."
The protests will also take place the week Congress is set to consider the Buffett Rule, a proposal by President Barack Obama that would raise taxes on individuals making more than $1 million per year. It is named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has come out in support of raising taxes on the rich. 60 percent of Americans support the tax, according to a recent Gallup poll. However, the measure is unlikely to pass due to opposition from congressional Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, according to The New York Times.