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Talking to Comedian and Tax Justice Activist Maura Quint

Chatting about trivia, the Tax March and why the right sucks at comedy.

Molly Adams

Sunshine salutations, my beloved bloggerinos! Rafi here, with my hands firmly gripping the wheel at 10 and 2 for Discourse Blog’s latest WHAT NOW? premium newsletter. We’re gonna have fun this week, I just know it. And believe me, I could use a little fun this week — we’ve been neck-deep in spring cleaning at my house lately, by which I mean, there were piles of garbage nearly up to my chin that needed trashing. So, imagine how much I appreciated taking a well-earned break to chat with writer and activist Maura Quint… actually, you don’t have to imagine it, because I’m sure you’re gonna enjoy her interview as much as I did!

Long before I first actually met Maura, I knew her from Twitter as one of those people who always managed to pop onto my TL with an extremely smart, extremely funny take about extremely serious stuff. It wasn’t until a mutual friend introduced me to her weekly trivia sessions that I realized this Maura was that Maura. An economic justice activist with Tax March, a writer, a comedian, and an all-around mensch, Maura’s a modern-day renaissance woman. You can follow her on Twitter at @Behindyourback. I suggest you do.

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First up, I’m not sure “grassroots activism” is the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about tax policy, so can you explain a little bit about what Tax March is and what it does? 

Tax March is a national organization that fights for economic fairness. We started in 2017, nearly out of thin air, when law professor Jen Taub and comedy writer Frank Lesser both independently tweeted after the Women’s March that the next march should be on April 15th to demand Donald Trump release his tax returns. Up to this point, if you heard activism and taxes, you were probably thinking of those Koch-funded Tea Party “taxation is theft” type groups — there wasn’t a lot of tax activism happening on the left. But after those tweets hit, people jumped at the idea and 200,000 came out across the country united in a single goal, focused on taxes as a fairness issue, and on calling out the ways the wealthy benefit, and have created systems to ensure they keep benefitting, at the expense of the rest of us. From there, we just kept going, launching campaigns to educate people on the ways the GOP was trying to further rig the tax code in favor of the wealthy and the need for us to restructure the system, tax the rich, and create an economy that worked for everyone (instead of just for the rich).

Funny you should mention the Tea Party because I think they’re a really interesting case study in how their movement — with the caveat that it was extremely astroturfed — become a legitimate, lasting force within the GOP. There was a “Tea Party” caucus. People were referred to as “Tea Party” Republicans, and so on. I know it’s not a one-to-one sort of comparison, but broadly is the goal of Tax March to emulate that sort of party integration with the Democrats? 

Well, as we’ve said, the Tea Party movement was an extremely manipulated and purchased movement, brought to us by big oil and the Koch brothers. In that Tax March is a people-powered movement that is specifically about fighting the influence of the ultra-rich and major corporations, we are, in a way, a counter to the “Tea Party.” But the Tea Party’s integration into the GOP was really just one more step in the ongoing work being done by the super-rich to purchase the politics they felt would benefit them. What we’re doing is lifting up the voices of the majority and making sure that they are being heard by people in power and that they aren’t being drowned out by the ka-ching sound of massive checks being written by wealthy donors. 

What would you say is the most pressing tax issue people should know about today, but which might not have on their radar at the moment? 

OH NO BUT THERE ARE SO MANY!! So I’m just going to have to go with the time honored tradition of picking the first one I think of and that is that the deficit is not a real concern. It’s a fear-mongering tactic used by individuals and groups who want to help corporations get tax breaks and cut social safety net programs like social security. Except if they walked around saying “we want major corporations to have so much money they can drown God and also social security is for losers” they wouldn’t make much headway, so instead they clutch their pearls and shriek “won’t someone please think about the deficit!!” This apparently makes them sound responsible. But it’s all lies. They’ve been yelling the same sky is falling stuff for decades and we’ve seen over and over again it just doesn’t bear out. It’s all made up. So why are we letting people with a perfect 0.00 batting average shape national conversations about what investments the government can and should make in its people? It’s time to ignore the corporatist liars. We’re not hurting our children by running up a deficit like they keep claiming, we hurt them by not going big enough now to ensure that they have a livable planet, that child poverty is eradicated, that there’s a working infrastructure, adequate housing and healthcare to keep them alive, healthy and able to bring us all into a better future.

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