All hands to save the ACA

This morning, after weeks of total secrecy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Senate TrumpCare bill. And what a cruel, ugly bill it is.

It destroys Medicaid, it increases health costs for middle-class families, it cuts coverage for pre-existing conditions, it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood…and it does this all in order to green-light a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. And, according to IndivisibleGuide, it will likely get worse once it gets to the Senate floor. This is how they believe the TrumpCare fight will play out:

  • Tomorrow we’ll get a score (report) from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which will quantify exactly how many millions of Americans will be screwed by this bill and in what ways.
  • On Mon or Tues, Republicans will start debate on “the bill,” which is just a draft bill intended to make it look like they’re being transparent but in reality is a trick to hide their finished product which is worse.
  • Over the next couple days, Senators will submit amendments, most of which will fail and none of which would make this bill redeemable.
  • On Thurs, the Senate will plan to vote on the legislation, but first they will vote on all submitted amendments (known as “vote-a-rama”). We play a role here.
  • At the last possible minute, Republicans will replace the entire bill they just got finished “debating” with an alternative bill secretly crafted behind closed doors.
  • By the end of Thurs, there could be a final vote in the Senate.
  • The House may then pass the legislation and send it to Trump to sign. It is possible this could happen the same day.
  • Next weekend, one week of congressional recess begins. They’ll either have the bill done by then, or they’ll have to wait another week. Throughout this process there will be precisely zero public hearings in the Senate. This is a historically partisan, secretive, and undemocratic process for one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our generation.

The press can’t cover the TrumpCare fight since it is taking place in private, so fewer people know about it.

That means there’s less public pressure on Congress, and it’s easier for Senate Republicans to move forward. If we drag this TrumpCare bill out into the light, it will raise alarms.

Here is an anti-TrumpCare ad that we hope will help with this.

Let’s keep up the fight! We need to call our Senators again. Don’t be sheepish! Many Indivisible groups are calling their Senators every day!

Stand Up SF actions:

Call both Senators and ask them to present hundreds or even thousands of amendments to the bill, and keep the amendments coming until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)

Call both Senators and ask them to withhold consent on all senate business until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. This will slow Senate business down to a crawl. This is the idea. (more info)

Submit an amendment. IndivisibleGuide is collecting amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff. Tell your story about how the bill will hurt you. Ask that it be changed so it does not hurt you. This will be read on the Senate floor, and will make it more politically painful for Republicans to move forward.

Thanks for all you do.

2 weeks to save our healthcare

Well, we certainly had another action-packed week. Just this past week we:

  • Watched the highest law enforcement officer in our nation refuse to tell us what our president said to him.
  • Learned that Russia hacked far more voting systems than we thought
  • Saw the RNC’s response to a foreign power meddling in our election was to release speaking points that instruct GOP congress members to say, effectively, “this investigation has gone on long enough.”
  • Learned that 70% of Trump real estate deals in the past 12 months have gone to secret buyers, vs. 4% in the two years prior to that.
  • Saw that the number of ethics waivers Trump has written is excessive compared to past presidents, and the powers granted are broader.
  • Learned that Pence has hired a lawyer, and Trump’s lawyer has hired his own lawyer! (Hilariously, in the words of one journalist: “Trump is the Typhoid Mary of treason.”)

I was somewhat comforted to see that our system jumped in with some checks on the insanity. This also happened just last week:

  • The FBI investigation expanded to look at obstruction of justice
  • Attorneys general for DC and Maryland filed suit against Trump, for accepting millions from foreign governments, violating anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. A first.
  • 196 congressional Democrats filed a lawsuit against Trump for accepting foreign emoluments.
  • The court ruled against the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying the Army Corps of Engineers failed to perform an adequate study of the pipeline’s environmental impact, particularly the impact of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, and environmental justice.

In the meantime, the most critical item facing us RIGHT NOW is the Senate’s ploy to repeal the ACA in secret before the July 4th recess. Not even our Secretary of Health and Human Services knows what’s in the senate bill.

The good news is IndivisibleGuide last week came up with two ways our Democratic senators can fight the bill.

Both are designed to slow things down so the bill can come out into the light of day, giving time for the press to report on it, and for constituents to learn and respond to what is in it:

  • Filibuster by amendment. Republicans are using a special process called “reconciliation” so they can pass the bill with fewer votes, but the trade-off is they have to allow an unlimited number of amendments. Our Senators can file as many amendments as they want and then call them up for a vote. This takes time. We want to ask our senators to plan thousands of amendments and keep them going until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)
  • Withhold consent on all senate business. The rules of the Senate are so complicated that Senators have to regularly consent to waiving some of them so that they can actually get work done. Our Senators can slow the Senate down to a crawl by withholding consent on legislative business until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)

On Thursday a group from Stand Up SF brought up the filibuster by amendment tactic with Senator Harris’ Director of Constituent Services, Daniel Chen. Daniel was not familiar with the tactic but thought it was an interesting strategy. He promised to look into it. Now is the time for us to follow up with more calls requesting it. Read the Action Report to learn what was discussed in the meeting.

Stand Up SF actions:

Call and ask Senators Harris and Feinstein to withhold consent on ALL Senate business until we have public hearings and a complete CBO score for the senate’s health care bill.

Call and ask Senators Harris and Feinstein to prepare hundreds or thousands of amendments to the the health care bill and keep them going until we have adequate public hearings.

Thanks for all you do.

Keep up the pressure!

While we were distracted by the stranger-than-fiction Russia controversy last week, Senate Republicans were working hard, fast, and in secret to repeal Obamacare. The Senate bill will be sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in the next few days, and the “score” will come out the week of June 26. Since the House bill was such a dumpster fire, the fear is that it will be easy for the Senate bill to be an improvement while still hurting millions of people. But we’ve also seen news reports showing how nervous U.S. Senators are about gutting our health care. That means the pressure is working. However, while health care is out of the news the angst goes down and the volume of calls into Senate offices goes down. We need to get the noise level back up. This bill will affect all of us. We’ve called our Senators on this before, but we need to call again.

Meanwhile, this week in the House, Republicans (only) voted to erase a number of core financial regulations put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Among other things, the Financial Choice Act weakens the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and eliminates the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires brokers to act in the best interest of their clients when providing investment advice about retirement.

Stand Up SF actions:

  • Call Senators Feinstein and Harris to voice your alarm about ACA repeal. Focus on how the bill will affect you and your loved ones. Here is a resource if you need help on what these effects would be. Script: “Hi, I live in San Francisco and I am a constituent. I’m calling to ask Senator ______ to protect my health care. The bill passed by the House will…” (tell how it will affect you and your loved ones)
  • Call Senators Feinstein and Harris and tell them to vote NO on weakening financial protections. Script: “Hi, I live in San Francisco and I am a constituent. I’m calling to ask Senator ______ to vote against any legislation that weakens the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or increases the chances of another financial crisis.”
  • Deadline Tues June 13th to Protect immigrants and Muslims: Call Assemblymembers Chiu and Ting and ask them to vote yes on SB54, the California Values Act, which preserves our sanctuary state status and prevents deportations, and SB31, the California Religious Freedom Act, which prevents a Muslim Registry. These bills will be voted on in committee on June 13th.

Thanks for all you do.

2 state seats, and other good news

We want to launch you into the weekend with some good news. On Tues, Dems flipped not one but two state seats in special elections, both in deep red territory. In NY, the Democrat beat 58-42 in a district Trump won 60-37 in Nov. That swing is both astounding and encouraging. In New Hampshire, the Dem won 52-48, despite Trump’s 51-44 victory last fall. While these are the first two seats to actually change hands since Trump’s election, Dems have consistently outperformed the 2016 presidential results in special elections across the country.

In more good news, this week the Supreme Court struck down North Carolina’s racial gerrymandering. They ruled that NC used race to draw two districts to advantage Republicans, and the two districts must now be redrawn before the 2018 election. In a state where 47% of the electorate voted for a Democratic Congressperson, but only 23% are represented by one, this is great news for our movement.

And yet another Federal appeals court ruled against Trump’s travel ban.

Finally, we don’t want to neglect scandal news! This week two more U.S. Intelligence agency directors stepped forward to say Trump also asked them to deny evidence of collusion.

In other big news items this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score on the House healthcare bill. This is the bill House Republicans passed before even bothering to look at the impact. The CBO analysis is just as bad as their report on the earlier version of the bill. The lowlights:

  • It would leave 14M more people uninsured next year and 23M more in 10 years.
  • In states that choose to opt out of current mandates, insurance costs could soar for those who are sick or have pre-existing conditions, while premiums would fall for the healthy.
  • Net premiums (after tax credits) would be much higher for older folks with limited income. A typical 64- yr-old who makes $26,500 would pay $16,000/yr, compared with $1,700 today. Almost a 10-fold increase!
  • At the same time, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said that the House bill would cut taxes for high-income people by $230B over 10 years.

Senators Harris and Feinstein have both been very vocal about this immoral bill.

And speaking of immoral, Trump also released his first full budget proposal. (more info: 1, 2, 3, 4) While it seems generally accepted that the math is phony, the priorities are clear:

  • Over 10 years: Cuts Medicaid by $800 billion on top of TrumpCare’s $800B in Medicaid cuts. Cuts $72B from Social Security Disability Insurance, which covers over 10M people, and cuts $464B from food stamps and other core programs for working families.
  • Eliminates loan programs that subsidize college for the poor
  • Eliminates any federal health funding for entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood
  • Cuts $3.1B (18%) from energy research programs developing technologies like better batteries for electric vehicles or carbon capture for coal and gas plants to reduce emissions and combat global warming.
  • Calls for $1.6B to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico (full cost estimated to be $22B-70B)

One big consolation is that Trump does not set the budget, Congress does. Trump’s budget is just a proposal. The House and Senate are each working on their own budget resolutions, which will likely be considered by the House in June, and later this summer by the Senate.

One final note: we had a fun and lively time at our social event tonight! Keep your eyes peeled for the next social event, we’d love to have you come!

Stand Up SF Actions through this weekend

Call all 3 Members of Congress about budget priorities (script)

Support Sen Feinstein’s request to sign these petitions:
#1 urges the Senate to vote no on Trumpcare
#2 demands that women should be part of the group of 13 Senators (all men) revising the healthcare bill

LOCAL ACTION for the environment: Call Sen. Scott Wiener and ask him to support AB 705: Script: “Hi, I live in California and I am a constituent. I’m calling to ask Senator Wiener to support Senate Bill 705, to phase out Styrofoam from food packaging in restaurants.”

A tsunami of scandal news

Hey, how about that tidal wave of scandal news this week? Here is a quick round-up:

  • Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russians. (WaPo) (To make matters worse, this is the meeting where he barred the US press but not Russia’s)
  • In June House leadership discussed how Putin was financing Trump, swore each other to secrecy while at the same time showing outrage about Hillary’s emails. (WaPo)
  • Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than was previously reported, before he came to the White House. (NYT)
  • Flynn vetoed a U.S. military operation against ISIS that Turkey opposed, while working as an unregistered agent for Turkey. (McClatchy)
  • The Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians. (Reuters)

The good news is that a special counsel has been appointed to run the FBI’s Russia investigation, as we demanded after last week’s set of Trump scandals.

We cannot say this better than Senator Kamala Harris:

The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is independent in that he can choose whether or not to consult with or inform the Justice Dept about his investigation. And he is empowered to press criminal charges. His order is to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” as well as other matters that “may arise directly from the investigation.”

On the choice of Mueller for the position, the New York times said:

While this is good news, we still also need an independent commission made up of citizens who do the investigating, not government employees who are subject to a chain of command under Trump. This is especially important since it is Trump and Sessions who will pick the new FBI director. The independent commission proposed by HR 356 would have 12 members, citizens with national recognition from relevant fields, selected by the top leaders of each party in both chambers. The commission would choose a chair and vice chair representing each party. Unfortunately we need GOP votes for this bill to pass.

We hope you will be joining us at our meeting on Sunday! Our Action Leaders will tell us what went on in their Member of Congress meetings this past month. We’ll discuss topics important to the future of Stand Up SF, like how to get involved (or not!) in 2018 mid-term elections and State legislation. And much more!

Stand Up SF Actions through this weekend
Support Sen Harris and sign her petition to Denounce Trump for sharing classified information with Russia.

Trump has nominated climate denier and oil industry shill David Bernhardt to be Number 2 at the Department of the Interior. Call and ask Sen Feinstein to vote NO (script).

Despite the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigation into the Russian government’s interference in our 2016 election, he recommended that Director Comey be fired, and is now involved in selecting Comey’s replacement. Call and ask Senator Feinstein to publicly demand that AG Sessions resign.