For 33-year-old father Ady Barkan, the upcoming finalization of the GOP tax bill is especially personal. Healthy just a year ago, Barkan is now fighting ALS, a disease with no cure that attacks the body's nervous system. On his flight home from protesting the tax bill in Washington D.C., Barkan confronted Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), pleading with him to vote down the bill.
My life depends on it. I need you to make your votes match your principles, senator. And for the rest of your life, you will be proud if you vote this bill down.
At the heart of Barkan's concerns are cuts to disability, as the deficit increase caused by the tax plan would likely trigger the 'Paygo' rule that requires any increase be countered with sufficient spending cuts. Republicans have indicated they will go after Social Security, Medicare, and other social safety net programs to achieve the balance 'Paygo' requires.
But Flake does not believe those cuts will happen.
Flake told Barkan that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intend to waive paygo for the cuts, but it's not entirely their call to make. "I've voted in favor of paygo, implementing it," Flake said. "But it's waived every time, and that's part of the problem. We never do the cuts."
After making knowledgeable points on corporate tax rates, economic growth, and Dreamers, Barkan made one last plea:
"You can save my life," Barkan said. "Please remember this conversation."
He believes the conversation will have a lasting impact on Flake.
"I expect Flake will listen very carefully to his constituents to do the right thing because it will make his grandchildren and children proud," he said. "(Flake) could become an American hero, and this is his moment."