SYRACUSE — As Linda McMahon, administrator of the Small Business Administration, addressed a panel of business owners Monday inside the Tech Garden, an estimated 150 people gathered outside to protest the Republicans' tax reform plan.
The rally, organized by the CNY Solidarity Coalition, derided the tax reform bill as a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans. The speakers included at least two Syracuse mayoral candidates — Democratic nominee Juanita Perez Williams and Green Party standard-bearer Howie Hawkins.
"Instead of dealing with the tax plan, Congress should be impeaching Donald Trump," Hawkins said. The crowd roared.
The tax bill released by the House Ways and Means Committee last week would reduce the number of income tax brackets, cut the corporate tax rate and repeal the alternative minimum tax. Supporters argue that the proposal would spur economic development and allow Americans to keep more of their money. But critics believe it would only benefit the rich.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a joint conference call with reporters to rail against the tax plan. The pair have spoken out against the proposal because the initial framework called for ending the state and local tax deduction.
The bill released last week would allow individuals to deduct property taxes up to $10,000. But they would no longer be able to deduct state and local income taxes or sales taxes.
Cuomo admitted that it's "hard" to communicate the impact of eliminating the state and local tax deduction. But he believes Republicans in Washington are using that to their advantage.
"I think the Congress is using the complication and rushing this through because they want to get it done before people realize what it actually does to them," he said.
Schumer, D-N.Y., focused his attention on New York's House Republican delegation. Two members — U.S. Reps. Chris Collins and Tom Reed — are supporters of the bill. There are seven other Republicans who could decide whether legislation passes or fails in the House.
U.S. Reps. John Katko and Claudia Tenney, both central New York Republicans, are among those who could be crucial votes on tax reform. Katko and Tenney attended the roundtable discussion with McMahon in Syracuse.
Schumer panned the tax bill as a "gut shot to the middle class" and upstate New York's economy.
"Rep. Katko and Rep. Tenney should immediately answer to why they are standing behind a bill that raises taxes on thousands of their constituents to pad the profits of large corporations and to line the pockets of the wealthiest among us like billionaire Linda McMahon," Schumer said.