The Tip of the Iceberg

“You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.” ~Babe Ruth

In the days and weeks after the election, our brains were battered with predictions that the new administration would be buoyed by GOP majorities in the House and Senate – and that Democrats would be powerless to stop the conservative train. And in the days and weeks after the Women’s March, we were battered with predictions that the new Resistance movement would falter once the newness wore off and the defeats stacked up. You would think that after the 2016 election, newscasters and pundits would be out of the prediction business already.

Because, as you and I both know, they’re wrong.

They’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

They can only see what’s visible above the surface of the water. They’re seeing the marches, the protests, the town halls – all of which are inspiring and uplifting and important. But they’re missing what’s going on just below the surface.

They’re missing a lot of our hard work.

But do you know who does see that hard work? The lawmakers. Don’t believe me? Check out these tweets by lawmakers who were blown away and inspired by their constituent calls in favor of the ACA:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.39.33 AM

So when you feel like your phone calls, your letters, your e-mails, your voice doesn’t matter … Well.

Just remember that the most dangerous part of an iceberg is the part that you can’t see from the surface.

Sometimes it’s good when they can’t see you coming.

Let’s get to work!

Actions
Tuesday: Find Some Resistance Near You!

We’re in the second week of recess – next week lawmakers will retreat back to D.C. This week they’re at home in their districts (hopefully) hearing constituent concerns. Now’s the time to show up at events where they might be lurking about, and attend any town halls they’ve scheduled.

Having a hard time locating events? A super-nifty resource, Resistance Near Me, lists town halls and other events that are occurring in your area. From marches to meetings, town halls to trainings, there’s something for everyone. (Psst – if you’re organizing a resistance event, let them know what you’re up to – we can’t attend what we don’t know about!)

Don’t forget – there are Marches for Science happening all over the nation on Saturday, April 22. Check the link for one near you!

And for Missouri citizen activists, consider attending Show Me Change – a three-track conference with tracks for candidates, campaign supporters, and advocates. Covering everything from gerrymandering to voter registration, campaign strategy to voter outreach, you’ll leave with more Resistance tools in your toolbox – and more friends to boot. (The conference is in St. Louis; details in the link.)

Wednesday: Tell Congress to Reign In Trump’s Use of Military Power

In his fledgling administration, Trump has gotten positive press in two instances: when he bombed Syria, and when he unleashed the MOAB (the Mother of All Bombs) on a target in Afghanistan. His ability to use these bombs to distract the press from the Russian investigation and his legislative belly flops has been noted by a number of commentators, who caution that praising his use of military might just encourage him to keep using the military to hide his failures.

And let’s be clear: he shouldn’t be able to do that. Our Constitution places the power to take military action on Congress. I know, I know – it hasn’t felt like that for a few decades. But if this administration has taught us anything, it’s that this whole system of checks and balances needs to be protected and polished up a bit.

The problem is that Congress gave some pretty broad authority to the President to take military action in the wake of the September 11 attacks. In the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Congress authorized then-president Bush to:

“use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

So, that authority was cited for use of military action against the Taliban, Al-Quaida, and most recently ISIS. We’ve gotten relatively used to the POTUS issuing airstrikes against terrorist targets. But how does the AUMF authorize Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian airfield? That’s a great question. Even though the AUMF has been stretched beyond its original intent, this seems to be a bridge too far. And, frankly, members of both parties are interested in Congress being involved in any future action. In theory, this ask should be bi-partisan.

Before the recess began, Nancy Pelosi asked Paul Ryan to bring representatives back to discuss Trump’s use of force in Syria. Ryan didn’t do that, and the news since then has shifted somewhat, seeing as how Trump has decided to play battleship with North Korea which announced today that “thermonuclear war could break out at any moment.”

Excellent.

Now seems like a good time to tell Congress that they need to reign in Trump’s unilateral use of military power.

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at _____. I’m concerned that the White House is carrying out military operations without Congressional approval. His actions appear to be escalating tensions with North Korea, which is really troubling. I urge Senator/Rep____  to insist Congress reassert its Constitutional duty and require the president to obtain Congressional approval before any further military action in Syria, North Korea or anywhere else.

Thursday: Call the GOP Out on Cost-Sharing Reductions

Trump has decided to play chicken with the subsidies that support “cost-sharing reductions.” Unlike the subsidies that help with premium payments, the cost-sharing reductions are payments made to the insurance industry to keep low-income Americans’ out-of-pocket costs low. Basically, the government cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers reduce these low-income Americans’ deductibles and co-payments, making medical care more affordable and, therefore, more accessible. About 6 million people are able to get this assistance.

Regardless of whether the subsidy payments are made, insurance companies are still on the hook to provide eligible Americans with the lower out-of-pocket plans that have been supported with the cost-sharing reductions payments. They just would no longer be paid for doing so, meaning they would lose a significant amount of money. The move would force insurers to decide whether to leave the ACA market (or even the individual market) entirely. As Trump told the Wall Street Journal, if neither he nor Congress approves the cost sharing payments, “that would mean that Obamacare doesn’t have enough money, so it dies immediately as opposed to over a period of time.”
So, basically, he thinks that by killing the ACA he can force Democrats to the negotiating table … where he intends to force them to repeal/replace the ACA.

Whatever could go wrong with this plan?

Not only is this strategy childish, it’s harmful to the health insurance industry, the economy, and to every American – not just those who are covered by the ACA. In fact, his refusal to pay the subsidies would increase premiums for consumers on and off the exchange by 15%. That sobering fact was laid out in letter urging Trump to make the payments – which was signed by the health insurance industry (BCBSA, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Benefits Council), the medical lobby (the AMA and American Academy of Family Physicians), The Federation of American Hospitals and The Chamber of Commerce. (It was sent to both Congress and Trump).

And let’s be clear that once again his voting base is going to be the most impacted by this cockamamie idea. As described by the AARP in its letter begging the GOP not to vote for the ACHA, “cost sharing assistance has provided relief on out-of-pocket costs (like deductibles and certain benefits) for low- income individuals who are some of the most financially vulnerable marketplace participants.”

So, what can we do? Keep calling our lawmakers to let them know that we see what’s going on, and we aren’t going to be fooled. We’re going to hold Trump and the GOP accountable if they force the ACA under. You can also use social media to literally show them that you are paying attention – Families USA has some great pre-made tweets and Facebook posts for you.

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I have heard that Trump’s administration may refuse to pay cost-reduction subsidies that lower cost insurance for our most vulnerable. Apparently he thinks that failing to pay the insurance companies for the lower-cost insurance that the government requires them to provide is a good idea. I don’t. It’s going to increase premiums for all Americans, hurt the economy, and sabotage the ACA. I expect Senator/Representative _____ to support these payments to insurers. What is he/she doing to get Trump to make these payments?

Friday: Plan Your Resistance Garden!

The EPA is under attack, global warming is freaking scientists out across the globe (psst: check that hyperlink now while you still can – it’s NASA’s .gov climate change site and its days are probably numbered), and the Cheeto in Chief is stuffing agencies with the fossil fuel lobby. What’s a resister to do?

Why, plant your own Resistance Garden, of course!

April is National Garden Month, after all – and Earth Day is on April 22. So celebrate by dusting off that spade and putting on those work boots. Soon enough you’ll be stuffing your face with homegrown tomatoes … while stiffing the industrial farming industry and the fossil fuel lobby. You and your seeds will be a coveted asset in the zombie apocalypse. And you’ll be decreasing your carbon footprint in the process. So it’s a win-win-win-win-win. (Are you sick of winning yet?)

The best way to plant a ridiculous amount of food in an itty-bitty space is square foot gardening. From personal experience, you can grow more food than your family can eat in just a 34 square foot space. You’ll have barely any weeding to do, because with spacing recommendations like 16 radishes per square foot (or 9 beets, 9 spinach plants, 16 carrots, or 9 peas…), there’s just no space for volunteers. Using a tool like GrowVeg makes the planning even easier – it adds the right amount of veggies per square foot for you. Take note that although the Square Foot Gardening pioneer/creator/guru Mel Barthlomew includes peat moss in his soil “recipe,” you should use something else. Peat is a nonrenewable resource – and harvesting it releases a lot of carbon while damaging ecosystems that are as fragile as rainforests. It’s also super expensive. Opt instead for a raised bed mix (often available at a local garden store or big box) that doesn’t use peat – or mix your own concoction of bagged garden soil and compost and a peat substitute like coconut husk.

If your outdoor space is small (like a deck) or nonexistent, you can still enjoy the utility and beauty of a garden. There are loads of articles and resources about container gardening and just how easy, economical, and fun it can be to grow anything from salad greens to cherry tomatoes in even the most light-deprived indoor spaces. I do love when style meets function. Behold these gorgeous indoor gardens – a feast for the eyes and the taste buds!

And hey – while you’re growing your own veggies, consider eating more of them (and less of Bessie the cow). Vegetarianism significantly cuts your dietary carbon footprint – one study showed that a vegetarian’s dietary carbon footprint was about 1/2 of a meat eater’s. Even if you can’t go full-on-veggie, one review suggested that just replacing beef with chicken cut 1/4 of dietary greenhouse gas emissions. Even if you can’t cut out your cold turkey totally cold turkey, just going veggie on the weekdays has a big impact, too.

 

Okay, everyone. Let’s get to work!

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