Trump tax plan a 'middle-class con job,' Wyden says
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, orated with his usual vigor and chomp at a noontime town hall on Monday, Oct. 9, in Corbett. But, at times, it was more telling what Wyden didn't say.
The 68-year-old Democrat danced around the phrase gun control, calling instead for "common-sense gun rules" in response to a constituent's question on mass shootings.
Still, there were plenty of sound bites to munch on for the crowd of about 200 locals and students seated in the Corbett High School gymnasium.
During a jab at President Donald Trump's plan for cutting taxes, Wyden lambasted the proposal as a "middle-class con job" with "loopholes as big as the Grand Canyon."
"They giveth with one hand, and they taketh away with the other," Wyden said, "by rolling back people's personal exemptions."
Dressed smartly in black Nikes, coal-colored jeans and a blue windbreaker from Columbia Sportswear, Wyden's Q-and-A was his 850th performance since he assumed office in 1996. For 2017 alone, the meeting was Wyden's 13th in the Portland metro area and his 69th statewide.
He directed plenty of heat at the present administration, but also promised never to divulge what Trump says to him privately at the White House.
While the national press has tittered lately after anonymous sources revealed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the president a "moron," Wyden declined to repeat that phrase. Later, he admitted that Trump had "mastered" a key challenge in politics.
"(The challenge) is that people are really angry. They feel the system doesn't work," Wyden said. "People say, 'We're out of work here. What's wrong with the tax laws? What's wrong with some of these government programs?'""I think he's been really good at tapping this rich vein of frustration," Wyden continued. "But he's making mockery out of his promises."
Wyden has been busy in recent weeks, joining his Senate colleagues to introduce three bills on Thursday, Oct. 5, including one piece of legislation that would ban the so-called "bump-stock" devices that can convert rifles into rapid-fire firearms.
Another proposal would end the 72-hour time limit that federal agents have to complete firearm background checks, while a third bill would roll back the laws that protect gun manufacturers from most lawsuits.
He submitted a thumbs-down vote against the confirmation of Lee Francis Cissna, who was later successfully appointed to the top spot overseeing immigration and citizenship at the Department of Homeland Security. The vote was largely along party lines.
Back at the town hall, Wyden said he would continue to fight after Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that workplace discrimination laws don't apply to transgender employees.
"I thought it was an educated response," said Finnegan VanHorn, a transgender student and senior at Corbett High.
In an interview after the event, VanHorn noted that he feels safe here, but worries that heated rhetoric at the Capitol will make life more dangerous for transgender people in general.
"I think that it just breeds hates," he explained. "The current administration is feeding the fire and tearing the American community apart, when we should really be bringing it together."