The GOP doesn’t believe in democracy

While we fight to preserve our health care, other critical battles are being waged in the House and Senate. This week, the Trump administration laid the groundwork for an unprecedented attack on voting rights, defunding the Election Assistance Committee (which helps prevent hacked voting machines), demanding personally identifying voter information from all 50 states, and signaling an intent to sue states to force them to trim their voting rolls.

I felt positively queasy when I read this news, and then I got angry. This administration, and the Republicans in Congress who allow it to flourish, don’t care about democracy. They only care about consolidating and retaining power. They’ve figured out that they will lose elections unless they rig the system to prevent millions from exercising their right as citizens to cast a vote. So they increase gerrymandering, gut the Voting Rights Act, reduce early voting, and do everything they can to prevent fair elections.

There is some good news: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has already rejected 45’s request for voter information, and as of Friday, at least 9 other states have done the same. Another 10 states have signaled resistance to the request, and voter advocacy groups like the ACLU have also come out against it, and are working diligently to promote access to the ballot and to sue the Trump administration for its many violations of our laws.

Senator Harris, who endorsed the Indivisible process to protect health care in her email blast this week, took to Facebook to oppose these disturbing attempts to curtail our freedom to vote, while Senator Feinstein was more circumspect. This week, we’ll be asking you to thank them both for their critiques, but also to pressure Senator Feinstein to make a stronger public statement.

Next week, you’ll have the chance to ask Congresswoman Pelosi to speak out against this attack on our voting rights, and to ask her staff what she — and we — can do to protect Americans from disenfranchisement.

Something to look forward to
Party with Stand Up SF members! A member is graciously opening her home to us for an afternoon of Mexican food and margaritas, coming up on July 29th. You’ll get an invitation soon. We look forward to seeing you there.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions:

  • Call Senator Harris and thank her for standing up for voting rights. You can say, “My name is _____ and I’m calling to thank the senator for her strong public statement in opposition to Trump’s request for personal voting information and her dedication to protecting our voting rights. I appreciate the senator using her public platform to raise awareness of this attempt at disenfranchisement.”
  • Call Senator Feinstein and thank her for voicing her concerns about Trump’s request for voter information, but prompt her to do more. You can say, “My name is _____ and I’m calling to thank the senator for voicing her concerns about Trump’s request for personal voting information. I’d like the senator to go further and make a strong statement condemning this transparent attempt at racial profiling and disenfranchisement of American citizens.”
  • Shore up our senators for the battle ahead: Call to thank Senator Harris and Senator Feinstein for their unwavering public opposition to TrumpCare. Remind them that they must withhold consent on all Senate business until the bill receives public review. Tell them not to vote for any amendments that will help Republicans pass TrumpCare. If you reach a human on the phone, take the opportunity to share a little bit about why this issue is important to you. (script)
  • Take local action on campaign finance reform: The California Disclose Act, AB 249, is going to move to the state Senate for a vote soon. AB 249 will strike a major blow against dark money in elections by requiring ballot measure ads to clearly and prominently show their true funders on the ads themselves – the first bill in the nation to do so. Call CA Assemblymembers and say “I believe that voters deserve to know who is paying for political ads. I therefore ask Assemblymember ______ to endorse, publicly support, and vote for AB 249, the California DISCLOSE Act.”

Actions with other groups

Thanks for all you do.

Losing our healthcare: It’s not over

On Sunday we got the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Senate “Take Away Our Healthcare” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and it shows how cruel and immoral the bill is (details below). There is nothing in the bill that gives better care.

The Senate then delayed its vote. Our pressure is working. But it’s not over til it’s over. We saw the House bill die only to be resurrected and pass. So we’ve seen this movie before.

Quotes from Senator Feinstein on Senate Health Care Bill: 'the most indefensible bill I've actually seen in 24 years in the Senate...No amount of tinkering will change the fact that this bill would devastate health care in America, and we can't let that happen.'

On Tuesday, 10 members of Stand Up SF discussed what can be done to block the Senate bill with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Feinstein’s State Director. Some of the suggestions below come from this meeting. Read the Action Report to learn all that was discussed.

While the Republican Senators are facing their constituents back home next week, what else can we do to ensure this bill dies a full death?

#1. Keep telling your ACA stories. How did the ACA help you? How will the current Senate bill hurt you or those you love?

Email your personal stories to Congresswoman Pelosi’s senior congressional aide: Alex.Lazar@mail.house.gov.

Submit your story to Senator Feinstein.

Submit your story to Senator Harris.

Keep submitting your personal stories to be read and voted on as bill amendments on the Senate floor.

Search Twitter for #HowTheACASavedMyLife to see how it helped others. Tweet your own 140-character story using the hashtag.

#2. Make sure your friends, family and colleagues know how the bill will affect them.

#3. Educate connections in other states, not only on the bill but on the need to call their Senators. Remember that polls showed a high % of the people with negative views of Obamacare had positive views of the Affordable Care Act. Eight years of misinformation campaigns have left people confused. Let’s educate them wherever we can. (hint: call it The Affordable Care Act)

#4. If you know any hospital representatives, encourage them to speak out on behalf of their hospital. Hospitals would face billions more in uncompensated care next year alone. Some would not survive.

#5. Consider phone banking into a red district, educating residents and encouraging them to take action (with Democracy Action).

#6. Consider a quick donation to one of the organizations running ads against the Senate bill in red states.

Here is how the Senate Health Care bill will affect all of us:

  • If you are nearing retirement, you will likely see your premiums and out-of-pocket costs shoot up. In 2026, a 64-yr-old making $56,800 would see their premiums TRIPLE.
  • If you have a pre-existing condition, good luck. Your state can let insurers drop your pre-existing condition from the coverage they offer you.
  • If you get sick with an expensive condition, too bad. Annual and lifetime caps are back. Hit your lifetime cap and your insurance ends forever.
  • If you count on that out-of-pocket max, not so fast. It only applies to “essential health benefits,” which states can now let insurers define. Nearly half of all Americans could be affected by cutbacks in “essential benefits.”
  • Know someone with low income? They also get less insurance at a higher cost. Subsidies are substantially smaller. According to the CBO, in 2020 premiums and deductibles would be so onerous that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”
  • The most vulnerable among us will be hurt by a $772M cut to Medicaid. 60% of long-stay nursing home residents are on Medicaid. 39% of US children are on Medicaid.
  • 15M more people would be uninsured next year, 22M more by 2026.

Local Stand Up SF action:

The State Assembly could vote on the future of climate action in California this week – and the vote is close. AB 378 would extend California’s landmark cap-and-trade law, which sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and requires companies to pay for their pollution. Call assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu and tell them to vote YES on AB 378 to continue California’s climate leadership. (Background)

Actions with other groups:

A fun way to support a good cause:
July 4, 2pm Dolores Park (free): Come see SF Mime Troupe perform WALLS, which asks the question: How can a nation of immigrants declare war on immigration? The answer: FEAR!

Thanks for all you do.

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.