Protesters to Costello: Vote against tax bill

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By Bill Rettew

Published: December 8, 2017

Daily Local News Link to the article

WEST CHESTER >> Fifteen demonstrators urged U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, to vote against a proposed GOP tax overhaul bill during a Thursday sit-in protest at his local office.

Several organizations were represented, including an anti-pipeline group, labor union leaders, religious organizations, environmentalists and West Chester University students.

Protesters entered the congressional office at 9 a.m. and left at 1:30 p.m. Some stood, while others sat on the floor discussing their concerns with Costello’s staff. Demonstrators posted several banners and signs with tape onto office walls.

At 10 a.m., five demonstrators hoisted signs and solicited horn honks from motorists outside the congressional office on Market Street.

While in the office, participants interviewed each other and recorded their conversations on cell phones. Almost everyone present posted the event to social media, including for Twitter and Facebook.

Phoenixville’s Luke Bauerlein said that the tax reform bill is “monstrous.”

“It will put most of the burden on the bottom 80 percent,” Baurelein said. “Let’s take some time.

“There should be a process. I want to see responsible and a sustainable government.”

The House and Senate have voted affirmatively on separate and different tax bills. Both chambers must agree on the same bill that is still not yet finalized.

Costello said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on how he will vote on the final tax bill.

“I voted for the House bill because it drastically reduces taxes for the overwhelming majority of middle income families in my district,” Costello said. “It will lead to more jobs and higher wages.

“Until the House and Senate bills get reconciled I can’t say how I’ll vote.”

Lilah Saber is a West Chester University student.

She is opposed to the tax bill, including levying taxes on student loan interest payments, removal of waivers for graduate students and cuts to the Affordable Care Act.

“People will be uninsured — people will die,” Saber said.

Tim Styer is a moderator for the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia.

“It will give money to the rich corporations and take it away from us,” he said. “This is what Reagan did but on steroids.

“This is a moral, ethical issue. It is way beyond politics.”

Costello staffer Jason Carver listened intently to the group, while taking notes.

Carver was asked several times how Costello intended to vote on the tax bill that several in the group said was opposed to by 75 percent of residents.

Carver said he did not know how the congressman would vote, if and when a vote is taken, for what he said is a “hot-button” topic. Carver also did not know whether a majority of constituents who had contacted the office were opposed to the tax bill.

Costello listened to constituents.

“I welcome everybody’s input but what happened today, folks came into my office and met with my staff for 45 minute or an hour, and refused to leave,” Costello said.

The congressman was not pleased that protesters ate take-out pizza while seated on his office rugs.

“I respect the right of 15 constituents who sat on my floor, but I also want my staff to hear from hundreds of other people calling about other legislative issues,” he said. “They refused to leave and are sitting there eating pizza while other people are calling in.

“I commend my staff for doing the best they can.”

The protesters pledged to continue to be heard.

“Ryan Costello should expect to continue to see this intense level of scrutiny from his constituents until we are confident he will represent our best interests,” Beth Sweet of East Goshen said. “That starts with a no vote on this tax bill.”

Christina Digiulio from Downingtown said she is an environmentalist.

“I think it’s time people wake up,” she said. “Our minds are sleeping.

“Our spirit — our soul — is lost.”

Craig Robbins of Pennsylvania Save Our Safety Net Coalition said a yes vote would be self-righteous.

“This will do unbelievable damage to this community and country,” Robbins said.

Outside the office, Claire Witzleben of Wayne carried a sign reading, “Costello: Vote no on tax scam.”

“We need our elected representatives to stand up for us against the tax bill that will require cuts to Medicare and hurt the students who make their home in our district,” she said. “Multi-national corporations should pay a higher tax rate than firefighters and teachers.”

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