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Protests continued throughout the week outside the halls of Congress as well -- including right outside on the Capitol lawn, where a coalition held a People's Filibuster for more than 24 hours to voice their displeasure before the Senate vote. Graduate students from Georgetown and the University of Maryland were among the speakers at the rally. The students denounced one particularly confusing provision in the House version of the bill, which would end the tax break graduate students receive on tuition waivers -- a move that could heavily increase taxes on a group that's already facing economic precarity.
Chad Frazier, a Georgetown PhD candidate and one of the event's speakers, told Inequality.org that he doesn't have more than a couple hundred dollars a month in discretionary spending already. He's not sure if he could manage with a huge hike in his tax bill. "My parents work in retail. They can't give me some big cash infusion to make up for my lost income."
Eben Levey, a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, was similarly concerned about who would be most affected by the bill, especially given the high cost of living in and around Washington, DC "There's no way, unless we're independently wealthy, that we can afford to live here," Levey said. "We already don't make it. This would be a fatal blow."
Levey and Frazier are only two of the many students protesting the bill. On November 29th, graduate students around the country held a day of action to voice their anger over the tax plan. PhD candidate Nick Millman was one of the organizers of a "work-in" held that day at the University of Pennsylvania. It wasn't his first time protesting against the tax bill -- that came the week before, when he joined students from other universities in the area to demonstrate outside of Senator Pat Toomey's offices.
Millman found the lack of deliberation around the bill particularly troubling. "I want to see a more critical democracy in place, in which there's a true consultation with the people affected," he told Inequality.org. But he wasn't disheartened. The work-in was a show of strength for the school's budding graduate student union, GET-UP. And while the group doesn't have immediate plans for another protest, "there is now a structure through which we can organize that rather quickly," he said.
There's also a glimmer of hope for graduate students across the country, as the Senate version of the bill doesn't consider waived tuition as taxable income. Whether that holds true for the final proposal remains to be seen.
Even if the graduate students win their fight against the tuition waiver provision, there's still a lot of injustice tucked into every corner of the tax bill, much of it yet to be fully understood. Wood hopes that people around the country will stand up against the bill as it enters its next stage in Congress. "Do you know how much you have to lose? Why are you not outraged?" Wood asks of people who haven't been following the debate over the tax cuts.
But she won't end her battle with the bill prematurely. "You have to fight until they actually vote," she said on Friday afternoon as she headed back to DC for the Senate deliberations. And even if the bill passes, she promises that Congress will keep hearing from her: "Hell hath no fury like a pissed off mom."
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Source : http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42817-maintaining-momentum-against-the-tax-bill