Crises Ahead – Devastating Budget Proposals, ACA Repeal Energizes Major Coalition Pushback

Bonnie Grabenhofer
Vice President
National Organization for Women

May 22, 2017

Republican Budget Plans Target Human Needs Programs  – Progressive, women’s rights, reproductive rights, health, disability, education, child welfare, legal aid, nutrition, safety net advocacy and numerous other national organizations are coming together to engage in an historic fight to prevent Republican budget plans to decimate more than 70 federal programs that help middle- and low-income families. Their slash and burn proposals would have a disproportionately harmful impact on women and children. A major lobbying and grassroots effort over the next few months is going to be required to pushback on these draconian plans that will negatively impact a majority of Americans, result in major job losses and seriously harm the economy.

Women at the Forefront of This Fight – Speakers at a recent coalition meeting observed that women have become the backbone of the progressive movement, fighting back against the many regressive initiatives of the Trump administration and a right-wing controlled Congress. The pollster, Celinda Lake, says that 86 percent of the calls that Congress has been receiving on health care, school vouchers, environmental de-regulation, tax cuts and other urgent issues have been made by women. Emily’s List reports that 12,000 women have indicated that they are interested in running for public office. So this may be the’Year of Women Taking a Stand’ and fighting back against a return to a more unequal and unjust society.

We have Lots of Friends – The very good news is that a recent survey shows that an overwhelming majority of the public is on our side when it comes to the major women’s issues. More on that later in this Special Edition.

The Coming Crises – Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release their analysis of the House-passed replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which by many accounts is even worse than the earlier GOP bill that would have meant 24 million individuals would lose their health insurance. The AHCA contains a $839 billion cut to Medicaid spending – devastating the essential component of the ACA which provides coverage to low and moderate income persons, including low income seniors. And, at the same time the GOP bill allocates billions in “savings” (money taken from health care programs under the ACA) as tax cuts for the wealthy.

Trump Budget Wields the Axe – On the following day the Trump administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018 will be released. Rumors are circulating that it will contain another $800 billion in cuts to a wide variety of social programs, including to programs serving domestic violence survivors, Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security Supplemental Insurance, school lunches, SNAP (food stamps), meals for seniors, housing assistance, Title X – family planning, veterans’ benefits, TANF (welfare), child care block grants, aid to education programs for low-income students and many other worthy human needs programs. Another $800 billion from the Medicaid program would be cut over 10 years, carrying through on the House-passed ACA repeal.

One question is whether the various women’s offices in different agencies will be kept alive; especially important are the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice and the Office of Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration, the Office of Research on Women’s Health with the National Institutes of Health and the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor, recently headed by former NOW Vice President Latifa Lyles.

Trump Paid Leave Proposal Inadequate – The administration is rumored to be proposing a mandate to states to provide paid parental leave for just six weeks, but experts say that the proposal falls far short of the 12-week national standard and neglects people who need paid time-off to address their own serious health issues, and it excludes working people who care for seriously ill or injured family members and military families’ needs, among other problems.

Big Cuts, but More $ for Pentagon – At the same time, House Budget Committee members have been drafting their FY’18 bill which is reported to also contain massive cuts to social spending. They are considering slashing more than $400 billion under an expedited process that prevents Democrats from using the filibuster in the Senate. The GOP budget would increase the Pentagon’s budget and provide generous tax cuts for high income earners. Reportedly, the House Republican budget will begin the privatization process for Medicare – something that is very unpopular with the public.

Money for the Border Wall – House Budget Republicans are reported to be incorporating in their budget plan some of Donald Trump’s favored projects, such as infrastructure rebuilding, additional funding for his U.S.-Mexican border wall, more funding for Homeland Security and ICE operations to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, more funding for detention centers to hold the thousands of immigrants awaiting deportation, etc. No doubt, battered immigrant women will be left in the lurch.

Future of Medicare in Doubt – Even though Donald Trump repeatedly stated while on the campaign trail that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should not be touched, of course, this was false pledge as his proposed budget demonstrates. Trump supported both the first failed replacement of the Affordable Care Act which gutted Medicaid and now with the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which Trump also supported – the ACA Medicaid expansion will become a withered part of health care coverage if any bill like the AHCA becomes law. Further, Trump will likely let House Speaker Paul Ryan try to privatize Medicare – something that Ryan has been itching to do for years as a favor to big business that would rather not have to pay the matching in the payroll match taxes on worker’s salaries.

Demise of Social Security? – There is an especially alarming rumor floating around that tax reform legislation will repeal the FICA tax – hence killing the main source of dedicated funding for Social Security retirement, disability and supplemental programs that nearly everyone pays into during their working lives. The GOP will try to sell this is a “middle class tax cut” – what is, in fact, is guaranteed old age poverty for the vast majority of workers and their partners.

Now, Some Good News – Despite the fact that we have a Congress and a president who are uber-conservative and promote many anti-women’s rights policies, the public is not in agreement. A nationally representative survey of 1,300 persons taken in December found that 83 percent of respondents agreed that it was important for president-elect and Congress to move forward on women’s rights and equality. Ninety-three percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Independents agreed. Survey findings follow:

·         90 percent want strong laws to ensure equal pay for equal work

·         87 percent want to ensure that working people can get paid family and medical leave

·         89 percent want to increase access to quality, affordable childcare for working families

·         85 percent want to ensure that women have access to quality, affordable birth control

·         61 percent oppose getting rid of the part of Obamacare that expands Medicaid to cover more low-income, uninsured adults

·         63 percent want to protect women’s right to abortion

·         67 percent oppose nominating a Supreme Court justice based on their belief in restricting or eliminating women’s right to abortion

·         74 percent oppose taking away funds from Planned Parenthood that are used for birth control, well- woman care, and cancer screenings for low-income women.

 Additionally, 63 percent oppose restricting access to abortion care; 55 percent oppose banning Medicaid coverage for abortion care; 67 percent want to keep the ACA provision that requires insurance plans to cover birth control without a co-pay; 87 percent want to keep the ACA provision that prohibits insurance companies from charging women more for health insurance than men based on their gender; 84 percent want to keep the ACA provision that requires insurance plan to cover preventive care, like well-woman visits; 83 percent want to keep the ACA provision that has federal funds available for states to expand Medicaid, which mostly covers women and children.

Women’s Community Principles – In advance of the Trump budget release, the women’s community and allied organizations sent a statement of their principles, as follows:

As organizations that advocate and work for the advancement and overall welfare of women and families, we join together to define a FY18 budget that in fact empowers women. At a minimum:

● The President’s budget plan must focus on improving the health of all women and families. It must adequately fund access to quality, affordable health care; evidence-based health education; research; and public health efforts. This must include enabling women to seek services from the provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood, and for programs to be unconstrained by ideological policy riders.

● The budget must help women and families who are struggling to make ends meet and achieve economic security. This means ensuring basic living standards through financial, housing, food, health, and nutrition assistance for those struggling the most. And it means creating a strong, inclusive, responsible and sustainable paid family and medical leave plan that creates a true national standard.

● All women and families must have a fair opportunity for educational and career success. To that end, it is essential that the budget support accessible job training; educational opportunity; enforcement of critical civil rights laws that protect women and girls from discrimination; affordable, high-quality child care; and early childhood development – particularly for low-income families and in under-resourced communities.

● The budget must adequately fund efforts to prevent and address violence against all women and girls. This includes an investment in legal assistance, housing, shelters, education, research, and training.

Voters Will Remember Who Took Their Health Care Away

Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill

05.04.2017
Today’s narrow vote for a disastrous health care bill will come back to haunt House Republicans. The members of Congress who voted for this bill have sealed their fate with the electorate. Billionaires and conservative superPACs may have bought their vote today, but they can’t buy a blindfold big enough to keep voters from seeing the truth.

The truth is that this bill will take health insurance away from tens of millions of people, many of whom are already living at the margins. The bill encourages mean-spirited Republican governors to opt out of the essential health benefits that are a lifeline to so many, and to allow insurance companies to deny benefits to tens of thousands of people with pre-existing conditions.

Under the AHCA, surviving sexual assault or domestic violence, battling postpartum depression, or having a cesarean section would all be considered pre-existing conditions–at a staggering cost to women. Black women are at a disproportionate risk for breast cancer than other racial and ethnic groups, and breast cancer survivors would see their premiums shoot up by over $28,000.

Now, it’s up to voters to deny their bought-and-paid for members of Congress another term in office. We will make it our top priority to unseat everyone who voted for this extremist attack on our health care rights today.

Contact

M.E. Ficarra , press@now.org , 951-547-1241
, ,

How to Stand INDIVISIBLE with the 32 Million Americans Who Rely on the ACA

  1. Join the Indivisible Emergency Call on Defending Obamacare. Health care experts will be on hand to provide an overview of what’s happening and what you can do to stop the repeal of Obamacare.
    When: Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7 at 9 PM EST
    RSVP here.
  2. Tell your MoCs* to demand a fully transparent process for any legislative action on the ACA, including requiring a public Congressional Budget Office cost estimate (“score”) before any vote. This week, House Republicans plan to rush their repeal bill through two committees, and MoCs will only have a few hours to review the bill. We’ve got a brand new script for contacting your MoC’s office. Make it clear: No Score, No Vote.

The next major congressional recess isn’t until April, and the MoCs pushing for repeal would love to repeal Obamacare before then so that they don’t have to answer any more pesky questions. Our response: Not so fast.

*MoC – Member of Congress

The Indivisible Guide Team.  You may contribute

WATCH: John Oliver warns “time is running out” on the GOP’s plan to replace Obamacare

Republicans were happy to point out the flaws in Obamacare but now Oliver takes joy in calling out replacement plan

John Oliver dedicated Sunday night’s episode of “Last Week Tonight” on the Affordable Care Act and the Republican plan to replace it. Except there is one major problem: the GOP does not have a plan. In the past few weeks, Republican politicians have encountered pushback from constituents at town halls. Videos from these events have proven that the GOP’s plan to repeal the health care law might not be popular policy.

Oliver showed a video from a town hall in New Port Richey, Florida, where a Republican leader tried to muzzle an angry crowd of voters. Bill Akins, the secretary of the Republican Party in Pasco County, Florida, resurrected the nefarious “death panel” lie, which claimed that Obamacare would force sick people to enter hospice care earlier than they desire. This was untrue, of course, so constituents immediately — and loudly — booed Akins for peddling fiction. Instead of debating the merits of Obamacare, Akins called the people in attendance “children” and baselessly dismissed the notion that they had actually read the Affordable Care Act.

The host of “Last Week Tonight” was floored by this interaction caught on video.

“What the fuck are you talking about? The notion of death panels isn’t just a lie, it’s Politifact’s 2009 lie of the year,” Oliver said. “Which is impressive considering in 2009 Americans were also repeatedly told Jason Mraz was the next big thing. We were lied to in a big way there.”

The “death panel” lie is just an example of all the deception surrounding Obamacare. But the pattern of deceit is about to come to an end, Oliver predicted.

“Republicans have happily complained about the flaws in the law, taken no responsibility for fixing them and in fact have often undermined the whole thing. But that time is now over,” Oliver said. “It is there turn to present a plan and the clock is ticking.”

 

 

Taylor Link is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

http://www.salon.com/2017/02/27/watch-john-oliver-warns-time-is-running-out-on-the-gops-plan-to-replace-obamacare/

Something Positive from the first days of Trump

Here are some positive results from the events of the last two weeks. Copy and pasted from a friend.
For everyone who DID something, small or big, your efforts have been successful. Because of you:

  1. Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
    2. Court order partial stay of the immigration ban for those with valid visas.
    3. Green card holders can get back in country.
    4. Uber pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after#DeleteUbertrends on Twitter.
    5. Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment ads are still going to air.
    6. The ACLU raised 24M over the weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year).
    7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted.
    8. EPA climate data no longer scrubbed from website.
    9. More people of different career/religious/economic/race backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
    10. MOST importantly, since we live in a participatory democracy, the people are engaged.

While more is needed, sometimes you have to celebrate your wins. Stay vigilant, but also take self-care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don’t sprint. #resist
(Feel free to copy and paste to share)

Time to turn up the heat—Senate staffers are complaining about the avalanche of angry calls

By Jen Hayden Friday Jan 13, 2017

sessions-unfit

Attribution: Getty Images for People for the American Way

Have you been calling your senators and congresscritter to object to racist Jeff Sessions for Attorney General or lodge an objection to one of Donald Trump’s other uniquely and wholly unqualified Cabinet picks? Have you been calling to defend the Affordable Care Act and tell staffers how important it has been to you or a loved one? Great. It’s working. From Washington Post staffer T.J. Ortenzi last night:

FOR FULL STORY:  http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/13/1620094/-Time-to-turn-up-the-heat-Senate-staffers-are-complaining-about-the-avalanche-of-angry-calls

Statement by Major Christian Organizations on President-Elect Trump’s Policy Agenda and Political Appointments

National Council of Churches – January 6, 2017

BEFORE THE OATH OF OFFICE IS TAKEN

Statement By Major Christian Organizations on President-Elect Trump’s Policy Agenda and Political Appointments

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 6, 2017—As our nation prepares for the Presidential Inauguration, we do so with the lasting residue of a divisive election season and an even more fractured past. Our faith teaches us to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). That is why we urge President-Elect Donald Trump, who has said he shares our Christian faith, to take seriously his responsibility to bring our nation together and to heed the oath he will take to preserve, protect and defend America. He can start this work before the oath of office is taken with his policy agenda and political appointments. 

Together, we represent millions of Christians in the U.S. who believe in the power and possibility of healing and unity for our nation. We have grave concerns about a proposed policy agenda that, if enacted, would put the most vulnerable among us in jeopardy. Throughout Christian scriptures, we are instructed to care for the poor and the most vulnerable. The Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion, has given more than 30 million people access to affordable health coverage. While working to improve the ACA will benefit all Americans, repealing it without simultaneously offering a replacement is reckless and unnecessarily endangers the health of millions of people. This is certainly no way to make America great. 

Safety net programs, which lift more than 40 million people out of poverty each year, must also be preserved. These programs are proven to help reduce poverty and provide families in need, especially children, and seniors, with food and housing security as well as with access to health care. Programs like Medicaid/Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/food stamps and Child Nutrition and WIC, all provide much-needed help to families when they are struggling to make ends meet. For Congress to block grant, cut or merge these programs will have devastating impacts on low-income families.  In fact, it will increase the number of people living in poverty, just as statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that poverty numbers are declining.

In addition, we are deeply troubled by choices President-Elect Trump has made for his Cabinet, particularly for Chief Strategist, Attorney General, and National Security Advisor. Stephen Bannon, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and Michael Flynn epitomize extremist, racist and fringe world views that we believe are morally inconsistent with Christian principles of loving neighbor and antithetical to American values of “liberty and justice for all.” 

These objectionable nominees represent a bygone era of hatred that we have denounced and worked tirelessly to eradicate. Their corrupted credentials, which include condoning and supporting racist, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim ideologies, are not only unacceptable but they should disqualify them for service as public officials. We urge the President-Elect to protect the integrity of our nation by replacing these nominees with candidates who represent shared American values for the common good.

Before he takes the oath of office, we call on President-Elect Trump to preserve, protect and defend our nation by enacting a policy agenda that will improve the lives of the most vulnerable, not put them at greater risk. We urge President-Elect Trump to preserve, protect and defend our nation against people who have a documented history of racial hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia. We encourage President-Elect Trump to preserve, protect and defend our nation by doing the hard work it will take to unify our country and move us toward a just, sustainable and equitable future that lives up to the ideals and promise of America. 

 

Signed,

Conference of National Black Churches
Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
The National Council of Churches of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference