Upping the pressure on a Maine “moderate”

December 13, 2017

Kara Kralik reports from Maine, on protests and actions directed against a Republican senator whose vote in favor of the GOP tax-cut heist was decisive.

MAINERS ARE keeping the pressure on Republican so-called "moderate" Sen. Susan Collins to change her vote on the tax bill currently being reconciled between the House and Senate. There are reports that Collins might not vote "yes" on the final legislation if she isn't satisfied with what the House-Senate conference committee comes up with.

In the week leading up to the planned vote on Friday, December 1, there were actions to pressure Collins to vote against the bill in the first place.

After she voted "yes," giving the bill its 51-49 margin of victory, five protesters were arrested at Collins' office in Bangor after sitting in on Monday, December 4. On Thursday, nine clergy leaders were arrested for sitting in at Collins' Portland office, and the next day, a group of 30 led by students from Bowdoin College protested outside the Portland office and read statements in the waiting area inside the building.

The Bangor 5 were later released on bail, and charges were dropped on the condition that they donate to local charities fighting poverty. The irony of requiring activists to donate to help the very people their action was defending, while nothing is demanded of Congress and the capitalist class for stealing the wealth generated by the working class shows whose side the state is on.

Opponents of the Republican tax-cut robbery are mobilizing in Maine
Opponents of the Republican tax-cut robbery are mobilizing in Maine (Dylan Smith-Monahan | SW)

The district attorney credited the agreement to the "graciousness of Senator Collins"--but that graciousness apparently doesn't extend to the many poor people of Maine who will be negatively impacted if the Republican tax-cut plan she voted for is enacted.

ON SATURDAY, December 5, a speak-out in front of Collins's Portland Office, called by the Portland International Socialist Organization and endorsed by the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America and Socialist Party Maine, drew about 50 demonstrators. Rally attendees called the tax bill out for what it is: an act of class warfare that will steal wealth from the working class and shower it on the capitalists.

Speakers from the ISO, DSA and SP, as well as community members not belonging to any organization, spoke to the many issues at stake in the tax bill: wealth inequality, attacks on health insurance coverage (in a state that recently voted by a significant majority to expand Medicaid), the environment, higher education, labor and abortion rights.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other unions spoke to the power of labor in fighting back.

Speakers brought up additional attacks from the Trump administration that week, including reinstatement of the Muslim ban, Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, threats to net neutrality, and continued support of child molester and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The group raised chants of "Tax the rich, not the poor, we won't take it anymore" and "No wall, no ban, no embassy on stolen land."

Following the speak-out, protestors chanted and marched through downtown Portland to an organizing meeting to plan further actions for the days leading toward the Senate's vote on a final version of the tax bill. Members of different liberal and left-wing political groups, unions and individuals discussed the centrality of Maine in the fight against the tax bill, due to Collins' position as a possible swing vote.

The group planned another picket outside of Collins' Portland office on Tuesday and shared information about ongoing actions against the tax bill across Maine scheduled for nearly every day of the upcoming week.

We need to continue to build mass action and pressure, bringing together as many individuals and organizations in Maine and around the country to fight the tax bill and Trump's agenda more broadly, as steps toward fighting for a truly democratic and equitable society.

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