OKLAHOMA CITY -- Hundreds stormed to the Capitol on Saturday in opposition of tax bills recently passed in the U.S. House and Senate.
The "Tax Cuts & Jobs" Act passed in the Senate last Saturday morning, containing several last minute changes. The House passed its version last month, with lawmakers from both chambers now heading to conference where they will work out differences to produce a final bill.
The Senate's version features large permanent cuts for corporations along with temporary tax breaks for individuals and private businesses.
The rally held Saturday was organized by the group Indivisible Oklahoma, which argued neither the House or Senate bill were good for Oklahomans.
"If it’s really about the middle class, that should be where the benefits are focused most," said member Brie Parker. "That should be where the benefits are permanent. That should be the things that people are talking about, not cutting the minimum tax and cutting the corporate tax rates so much."
While the Senate bill would cut individual taxes, the corporate tax rate, and get rid of some popular tax breaks, Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs says there are some major provisions that would help families including the new child tax credit.
"It definitely costs more to raise children than it did the last time the credit was raised," said Small. "When you look across the board of the various categories of the people that will be affected, the vast majority of the people are going to pay less taxes at the federal level, significantly less."
In a past interview with News 4, Senator James Lankford said the bill would be good for Oklahomans, as it lowers taxes on individuals and businesses. He was praised by the Americans For Prosperity group for voting in support.
“We think it would be great for the economy to have a tax cut for every earner and we think it would encourage business owners to invest, reinvest if they have more of their money,” said Deputy Director Joseph Magano.
In response to the rally, Senator James Inhofe released a statement to News 4 maintaining his stance that the bill would benefit Oklahomans:
"There has been a lot of misleading and just plain wrong information out there about the tax cut package the Senate passed last week--but I want to set the record straight. This is a good bill for Oklahoma. The non-partisan Tax Foundation’s study predicts that Oklahoma will add over 10,000 full time jobs and the average family will increase their after-tax income by over $2,200.
The Senate tax cut package lets families keep more of their hard-earned money by doubling the standard deduction and doubling the child tax credit--all while preserving existing provisions that families value, like the adoption tax credit and deductions for medical expenses, charitable giving, student loan interest and home mortgage interest.
What's more, economists from around the country agree that this bill will lead to economic growth and investment that will increase wages and create jobs. If you still have questions about the bill, I encourage you to contact my office. I appreciate the many Oklahomans who have already reached out and shared their thoughts. As we go to conference, I will continue to work to make sure the bill supports families in Oklahoma."
Not everyone is convinced the bills would benefit Oklahomans, fearing it would also add to the national deficit.
“We see what you’re doing. We see that you’re saying this is for the middle class, we see that you’re saying that this is going to help Oklahomans, and economists say it’s not,” said Parker. “We want you to vote to protect us not to necessarily tow the party line or to go along with leadership wants.”