No doubt about it, Donald Trump has a knack for standing out in a crowd.
That was the effect Susan Roller was counting on when she put on a sad face mask of the chief executive and matched it up with a dress suit.
“He’s a crybaby who is extremely dangerous,” Roller said of the president. “I oppose his tax break for the rich and the damage it will do for most of the rest of us.”
She was one of about 50 Midstate residents who participated in a rally on the Square in Carlisle Monday afternoon against a tax reform bill that could go to a Senate vote this week.
Organized locally by Cumberland Valley Rising, the demonstration was one of 60 nationwide called for by Indivisible, a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist what they call “the Trump agenda.”
Indivisible referred to Monday as the National Day of Action to defeat the #TrumpTaxScam and timed the rallies to the first day Congress returned to session from its Thanksgiving break.
Roller portrayed Trump as a money grubbing child out for every penny from the lower class and middle class so that the very rich and corporations could benefit.
“That’s the trickle-down theory and it has never worked,” Roller said. She said most corporations do not reinvest money from tax breaks and profits back into the economy. Instead, they increase the salaries of their chief executive officers, she said.
Passersby in the busy intersection were met with shouts of “Kill the bill,” “Not one more penny for the 1 percent” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
Several motorists honked their support and, for a brief period, a police cruiser was parked with its lights on in the Square. There were no signs of a disturbance.
Mark Whitmoyer came to Carlisle from New Bloomfield, Perry County, to add his voice to the rally. “We all need to speak out as much as we can against this scam they are calling a tax cut,” he said.
“It’s the same old thing,” Whitmoyer said. “By cutting taxes on the rich, it’s going to help everyone, but that has never worked before and it’s not going to work this time. It’s just a way to give people who have an advantage more of an advantage and the rest of us to pay for it.”
Lonna Malmsheimer of Carlisle is on the steering committee of Cumberland Valley Rising, which formed in late November 2016, a few weeks after Trump was elected president.
“It’s going to hurt a lot of people,” she said of the bill. “It’s going to slap the whole economy.”
While the bill may act to stimulate the economy in the first two years, the language suggests that money will be taken away from the middle class and from programs that help the lower class starting the third year on, Malmsheimer said.
Mark Laser of West Pennsboro Township is also on the committee. He said Cumberland Valley Rising was formed not only in response to the election of Trump, but in response to other issues in society.
“Trump is a symptom and not the cause,” Laser said. “We have much bigger problems than him to deal with.” His hope was the rally would get the word out to lawmakers and other Midstate residents that this bill is a bad idea.
“We want the process to slow down,” Laser said. “We want our legislators to work together to come up with smart legislation that is going to benefit all Americans.
“I don’t see anything good about this,” he said of the bill. “It seems like it is being jammed down our throats. It seems that our representatives are not listening to us. We want to get our voices heard.”
Sherwood McGinnis of Carlisle is a retired diplomat and an adjunct professor at both the Army War College and Dickinson College. He serves on the economic justice subcommittee of Cumberland Valley Rising.
“I hope the message goes out to our representatives that this bill is not a just bill,” McGinnis said. He said that while the bill calls for tax breaks for the very wealthy, those sponsoring the bill portray it as a middle class tax cut in order to win votes.
“What we really need is a very solid and focused look at reform,” McGinnis said. “We need a system where there is some equity and we have compassion for elements of society that need help and assistance.”
Ben Geesaman is a senior at Shippensburg High School and a leader in a newly formed club calling itself Social Activism. Its goal is to engage and inform students through activities that include hosting guest speakers and candidate forums.
As part of its effort to raise awareness, the Shippensburg club has reached out to students in other high schools including Big Spring, Carlisle, Chambersburg and Milton Hershey with the goal of establishing a youth version of Cumberland Valley Rising.
“The decisions that are being passed now … they are going to affect my generation the most,” said Geesaman, who is 17. “I don’t think people my age realize that yet. … That is why I’m trying to spread awareness.
“I can’t vote, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice,” he said. “I can still get people old enough to vote to make an informed choice, and that’s what I aim to do.”