Locals protest GOP tax plan

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • —Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, December 11, 2017 5:36PM

Last week, more than 100 disability rights and health care advocates were arrested in Washington D.C. during a civil disobedience protest of the GOP tax plan. Among them were residents of Peterborough and Temple.

Lisa Beaudoin of Temple, the executive director of ABLE New Hampshire, a grassroots organization that advocates for families that include people with disabilities, said that she sees the tax plan as taking firm aim at some of the most vulnerable populations – including people with disabilities. 

When she heard there was  a call to action for a protest in Washington D.C., she put out the call to members of ABLE, Eddie Gomez of Peterborough, and Melissa Hinebauch and Beaudoin’s son, Forrest Beaudoin-Friede of Peterborough, who had attended a recent training on civil disobedience organized by ABLE last October.

“I asked, do you want to be a voice for the nation’s most vulnerable? And they said they did,” said Beaudoin in an interview Monday.

The four made the eight a nd a half hour trip to join a group of 300 to protest the bill at the Cannon House Offices, which house the offices of members of the House of Representatives. The group organized themselves by constituency, and protested in front of the offices of their representatives. Members of the crowd took a mic, and stated how the bill would affect them, each line echoed by the crowd.

Beaudoin-Friede, who himself has a developmental disability, was one of the ones who spoke, ending his statement with a chant that the crowd had adopted: “Kill this bill, don’t kill us!”

“What I want is to keep living,” said Beaudoin-Friede. “That is the most important thing to accomplish in life.”

Beaudoin-Friede said he fears that the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that are proposed to fund the tax cuts proposed in the plan could affect him, or other people that depend deeply on those services for health care. 

There are other provisions in the bill that are troubling specifically to advocates for those with disabilities, said Beaudoin, including the cutting of a provision that provided aid for small businesses to make themselves more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, by making their facilities more accessible. Currently, qualifying businesses can apply to have up to half of the cost for improvements over $250 to be a deductible expense. Reducing a business’s ability to provide access not only limits a person’s ability to shop at that store, said Beaudoin, it limits their ability to work there and earn a living.

There is also an elimination of the medical expense deduction, which allows deductions on medical costs if they exceed 10 percent of your income. Since people with disabilities often require specialized medical care, it can often apply to them. 

Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday, with another 120 arrested on Tuesday, said Beaudoin. She was among them, along with Gomez and Hinebauch, who were charged with a violation-level offense for obstructing the passageways. They were released after paying a fine.

Beaudoin said she and the others knew the consequences going in – they volunteered for a group that was willing to risk arrest, as opposed to being a legal observer or supporter. Beaudoin was appointed a team captain of 100 protestors, organizing them to determine which congressman they were a constituent of. 

“The intensity and the scale of this was larger than anything I’d experienced in the last ten years,” said Beaudoin. “It was spine-tingling to be amongst a group of people that were there to represent the most vulnerable: The poor, the sick, the elderly, children and people with disabilities.”

Beaudoin said she will be headed back to Washington D.C. today to join the same national organization, Center for Popular Democracy, for another series of non-violent, civil disobedience in the United States Senate office buildings.