My childhood was a testament to the American dream. My dad worked hard as a millwright at the local lumber mill, and later as a union machinist. My parents saved diligently, bought a modest home, and were even able to take us kids on a camping vacation every once in a while. Back then, opportunities were available to hardworking families like mine, and I ended up being the first in my family to go to college.
Today, though, those economic opportunities feel a lot further out of reach for working Americans — and instead of making it easier to make ends meet, the new right-wing tax bill has largely left working families behind or even made things worse. I’ve been receiving calls, emails, and letters from constituents all across Oregon detailing how their refunds have shrunk this year as the new tax law has gone into effect. A recent report showed that one Oregon family received a small refund last year, but owed more than $10,000 in taxes this year. Meanwhile, giant corporations like Amazon pay no federal taxes at all despite billions in profit. That’s unacceptable, and it’s no accident.
The powerful and the privileged have been stacking the deck in their favor for decades, by buying elections and lobbying for their best interests, while paying fewer and fewer taxes — and leaving hardworking Americans to foot the bill. And this strategy came to a head with the new tax law passed in 2017 that left the middle class behind while raiding the Treasury for a $1.5 trillion to giveaway to giant corporations and the richest Americans.
This tax giveaway to the wealthy and powerful is the starkest illustration yet of why we need major reforms that will end the corruption and put power back in the hands of working Americans. I’m proposing a series of bold actions — a sweeping blueprint to restore American democracy — to make sure every American has a truly equal voice in the direction of our nation. This package of legislation would end the dark money that allows corporations to control Congress, and eliminate the voter suppression and gerrymandering that silences the voices of millions of Americans across our country. It’s time to reclaim our democracy so that we can reform our tax code and our economy to work for everyone.
America should be a land of opportunity, like it was for my family. But until we take our democracy back from the special interests and the politicians who cater to the powerful and the privileged, those opportunities are going to keep shrinking for hardworking, middle class Americans. This Tax Day, I’m recommitting to keep fighting for Oregonians, for opportunity, and for the American dream.
All my best,
Sen. Jeff Merkley