These are Tax Day 2014 remarks by Kathleen McQuillen, AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator at a rally outside the Federal Building in Des Moines. To view photos of both Tax Day events in Des Moines, click here.

Good Afternoon, Friends.

I so appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today – with allies who are committed to creating just economic structures in the US. We gather together on Tax Day to join our voices in calling for tax fairness. We are demanding that the tax breaks and the subsidies and the loopholes to corporations end.

We demand corporations pay their fair share. We demand our tax dollars go to support schools, healthcare facilities, jobs programs, and to meet our critical environmental needs. It is only then that we will have thriving and sustainable communities.

I particularly want to address the weapons industry and how their thirst for wealth is taking priority over the human needs of our communities. General/President Eisenhower warned us of the undue influence of money in our political process.

In his last speech upon leaving office, Eisenhower cautioned:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

I think President Eisenhower would be appalled by how weapons industry lobbyists fill the halls of Congress and appalled further by the benefits accrued to them for their efforts.

Let me give you two examples:

They were well rewarded for their efforts, securing nearly $45 billion in government funds.

Boeing spent just over $15,640,000 in 2012 and was rewarded with over $31 billion in government contracts, grants, earmarks, etc.

This is a corruption of our democracy. As Eisenhower said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

This rings with even more truth today as the gap between the 1% and the rest of us grows into a deep canyon.

While Congress is cutting food programs and refusing to extend unemployment benefits, the bloated Pentagon budget continues to grow. The US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are ending but the Pentagon budget is at the same levels as during the height of the Cold War and Vietnam. This is not in response to security needs, but in response to the weapons industry greed and the corrupting influence on our political process.

We are in a fight for the soul of our democracy, and we need all of our communities in this struggle together. It is time for corporate America to get out of the way, for the public is awakening and we are coming to the tables where decisions are being made and checks are being handed out.

I look forward to engaging in this struggle alongside each of you.