Ask: Why Not?

Citizens working together are more powerful than US Attorneys. And presidents. ~Preet Bharara

There’s nothing more frightening than a government that’s working against you.

There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing a movement coalesce to fight back.

We’ve seen time and time again over the past almost-year that when we stop thinking why we can’t do something we find ways to change the world. When we stopped believing we were helpless, we were no longer helpless. When we stopped believing our political situation was hopeless, we gave ourselves reason to be hopeful. When we stopped believing there was no way to stop this administration, we found ways to stop it.

The first step always seems to be overcoming the limitations we place on ourselves.

An example: chef Jose Andres went to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. When he arrived, he visited a friend and fellow chef who had a freezer full of food that was going to go bad. Another friend had a generator. The next day he was feeding San Juan. The next week the Salvation Army was asking him for food.

They had no strategic plan, no funding, no long-term analysis and no distribution network.

“We decided we would just start cooking.”

And as of yesterday, he’s fed hungry Puerto Ricans 2.2 million warm meals and sandwiches – including people in mountainous areas that are hard to find and harder to reach.

How did he do it?

Rather than asking why, he asked why not.

I can hear your inner voice telling you right now that he’s a special case, it was a special situation, he’s smarter or more talented or wealthier than you. That you don’t have time, or you don’t have special skills, or you’re not special enough to do something so big.

Poppycock. Stop selling yourself so short.

We get one shot at life, folks. And there are a lot of people who gave a whole heckuva lot for us to be able to live the one we have with vibrance and gusto.

There are a lot of things that are scary about living right now. But the scariest thing, to me, is to do nothing at all.

I’ll bet you feel the same.

So let’s get to work.


Actions

Tuesday: Read My Lips: No Millionaire Tax Breaks

With such a slow news week, clearly we are all completely focused on tax breaks for millionaires, right? (I kid, I kid.) Okay, I get it. It’s hard to pay attention. Our already-frenzied news culture has now been overcome with indictments – so it’s totally understandable to feel overwhelmed.

But we cannot – CANNOT – give them that opening.

Because while we aren’t looking, they’ll be scurrying around whipping up votes for a crazy tax bill that nobody but donors likes. The good news on that front is that it seems like they have an uphill climb to get this passed, especially with Senator Collins setting out her demands for a tax bill. (Spoiler alert – the proposed plan doesn’t meet her demands.) But leadership is going to try to ram this through Congress in the next few weeks – without hearings, without any real analysis or explanation. The current timeline they’ve proposed has them pushing this through before Thanksgiving. There’s no time to waste.

So while you’re hitting “refresh” on your browser to see if any new indictments have been issued or whether Trump has melted down on Twitter (yet), call your Senators and your Representative and let them know that you are still paying attention.

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote against the proposed tax plan. It increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars and gives tax cuts to the wealthy on the backs of people like me. Frankly, most Americans (myself included) don’t think corporations are paying enough in taxes – and the passthrough income tax cuts that have been marketed as cuts for small businesses disproportionately benefit the wealthy. In fact, the Trump Organization has over 500 of those passthrough entities. Speaking of the Trump family, the estate tax only applies to estates that are worth over $5 million – like the Trump family and the current cabinet. So eliminating that tax only benefits people like them – not regular people, which make up the majority of the Senator’s constituents. I understand the desire to make the tax code simpler – but I’d rather have a tax code that’s fair and doesn’t add to the deficit. Please ask him/her to vote against this horrible tax plan.

Wednesday: Get America Covered

Open enrollment begins on November 1 and ends on December 15. The Trump administration has slashed funding for advertising, cut back the enrollment dates, and has scheduled website “maintenance” for Sundays during the enrollment period – conveniently blocking people’s ability to sign up.

But that’s okay. Because we’re here, and we’re not going to let our fellow Americans down.

Head over to Get America Covered. For an easy action, just share one of their great social media graphics! But why stop there? You can download some of their talking points or flyers and head over to your local coffee shop or pharmacist and spread the word. Better yet, sign up for their Open Enrollment Street Team project here.

Consider this a “rinse-and-repeat” action from now through December 15. I keep hearing that expectations are that enrollment will be low because of the lack of advertising by the federal government… But they’ve always been surprised by us. Let’s surprise them again.

Thursday: Protect Trump’s Worst Nightmare

Bob Mueller seems to be the nightmare on K street, doesn’t he?

If Trump were to go bonkers and fire Bob Mueller, it really would be a constitutional crisis. Yesterday, Senators Flake and Graham came right out and said that if Trump fired Mueller there would be “hell to pay.” But Trump has been known to act rashly (understatement of the day?) so it’s worth letting our Senators know that we are paying attention and we want them to protect this investigation.

Luckily for us, there’s a specific ask: Senators can co-sponsor S. 1735 led by Senators Graham and Booker, and S. 1741 (Senators Coons and Tillis sponsoring). Representatives can co-sponsor H.R. 3771, (Representatives Jones and Conyers sponsoring).

Script: Hi, my name is __ and I’m calling from ___. I’m calling today to ask the Senator/Congressman/woman to co-sponsor S.1735/S.1741/H.R.3771 to protect the Mueller investigation. This investigation needs to continue unimpeded, and we are relying on the Senator/Congressman/woman to help insure that it does.

Friday: FQHC and CHIP. I CANNOT BELIEVE WE HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN.

I am completely apoplectic that Congress has not reauthorized funding for community health centers (also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs), and that it hasn’t moved on refunding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as “CHIP”. I know we’ve discussed this before, but if you’re new (welcome!) or if you’d like a refresher, here’s the skinny:

Federally Qualified Health Centers – also known as community health centers – provide care for low-income and underserved individuals, often in rural areas. The legislation providing funding for community health centers has received bipartisan support, and everyone thought it would be renewed by the September 30 deadline. It wasn’t. Because the funding for those community health centers has not been renewed, they face losing 70% of their grant funding on January 1 – which means they are already having to make difficult decisions – do they lay off workers? Strip programs or services? If nothing is done, 9 million patients will lose access to care, 2,800 delivery sites will be closed, and 51,000 providers and staff will be laid off. Go here for a more detailed breakdown of the impact on your state, including the number of patients and jobs lost, and lost revenue.

There are bills kicking around that will provide funding for FQHCs, so we need to get more support behind them: Senator Blunt (R-MO) (!!!) sponsored S.1899, which has been cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 13 senators. The same bill is kicking around the House as HR3770. Check here to see if your Senator has expressed support, and here to see if your Congressman/woman has supported the bill. (Missouri residents – Blunt, McCaskill, Clay and Hartzler are the MOCs that are sponsoring.)

The Children’s Health Insurance Program – or “CHIP” – is a bipartisan, highly effective and well-liked program… the funding for which our lovely members of Congress allowed to expire at the end of September. Some states will run out of funding in the next few months; others will have a bit longer to plan. (Check the link for a map, where you can check the status of your state.) But all states are confronted with the distinct possibility that their CHIP funding will disappear. Until Congress re-funds CHIP, states are put in the terrible position of having to wind the program down. They can’t presume that our lovely leaders will grant their funding, and state governments don’t turn on a dime. So the best case scenario now involves your state having to waste your taxpayer dollars winding down a program that enjoys bipartisan support because our MOCs couldn’t get their act together. Nine MILLION kids’ insurance is in immediate danger. I honestly don’t know why this isn’t a bigger priority for our legislators.

When the GOP has made tax breaks for millionaires a priority, and refuses to budge on funding for community health centers and insurance for kids… Well. That tells us a lot about who and what they are.

So, let’s grab our phones and call our Senators. Show them that we’re not interested in tax breaks for rich folks while the rest of us have to beg for healthcare.

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling because I’m really surprised that the funding for CHIP and FQHCs haven’t been renewed. Our state will now have to expend funds and resources winding down CHIP – which is a highly effective program that’s gotten bipartisan support, and will be at risk of losing the jobs that are created and the health care that is provided by community health centers. So, because of the federal government’s inability to pass the CHIP and FQHC funding bills before September 30 – or in the weeks since – our government is going to waste even more taxpayer money, risk jobs, and hurt people. This is ridiculous. I urge the Senator/Congressman/woman to do whatever he/she can do to move a clean CHIP funding bill forward and to support S.1899, which extends funding for community health centers.


Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.

If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

Lastly, if you’d like to support this work (thanks to those who have done so!), you can become a supporter here.

 

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