BERKELEY – When Ivanka Trump, advisor to the President, Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Rep. Tom MacArthur held a discussion of the new tax plan at the Bayville Fire House, there was a mostly friendly crowd.
The event was by invitation only. Therefore, a majority of the audience was made up of Republican politicians, or their friends and families.
MacArthur, who has stood before angry crowds at town halls he’s held, had a different crowd here. He only read one question from an attendee.
One man tried to gain entrance, and when he was not on the list, yelled out “I want to be represented here! It’s not fair!”
Before being asked to leave, he yelled into the room “Are there any Democrats here? Raise your hand if you’re a Democrat.”
No one answered, but there was at least one. Marianne Clemente, the head of the Barnegat Democrats, had managed to secure a seat inside. At the end of the presentation, she spoke aloud that she wanted to ask a question. No questions were allowed from the public, and so she shouted out that the tax plan doesn’t help everyone.
A few dozen protesters were outside in the soggy weather holding signs. They were mostly from the New Jersey Organizing Project, an advocacy group that started after Superstorm Sandy to address issues there but have since branched out to other missions. They held signs asking MacArthur to vote against the tax bill.
“More than 1 in 4 New Jersey residents would face a tax hike while the wealthiest catch the biggest break once the plan is fully implemented,” their literature stated.
Among the issues is SALT: the House’s plan to eliminate the ability to deduct state and local income taxes and sales taxes. (The all-Republican Ocean County Freeholders have also said they don’t want this eliminated.)
Another issue is that the House version of the bill eliminates the deduction for people who spend more than 10 percent of their income on health expenses. They were also protesting the removal of the House’s student loan deduction, the deduction on losses from disasters, and the deduction for teachers buying supplies out of pocket.
There was another protester standing in the parking lot handing out documents from the LaRouche Political Action Committee attacking Robert Mueller, showing a picture of Mueller side by side with the burning Twin Towers after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and urging people to go online to find out more.