Dear Greylock Together,
It seems it’s appropriate to focus, at least for a moment, on victories, small and large, as we continue to trudge through the onslaught of international and political news.
- Important Supreme Court vote – on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina’s gerrymandering of congressional districts using race is unconstitutional. This case should go down as a hallmark ruling that will hopefully serve as a precedent for other decisions that ultimately will lead to less partisan districting.
More here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/us/politics/supreme-court-north-carolina-congressional-districts.html
- 2 flipped seats – while not Congressional seats, two Democrats have recently bested Republicans in traditionally Republic strongholds. On Tuesday, Edie DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Panche for a NH House seat in Wolfeboro, which has not elected a Democrat in the last 100 years. And yesterday, Democrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Republican Thomas Gargiulo for a NY State Assembly seat, in a county that Hillary Clinton had lost by 23 points last November.
- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a poignant speech defending the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the final of 4 confederate monuments/statues that he and the City Council had decided to remove in a process that began 2 years ago. In his speech, Landrieu defies opposition claims that the monuments are an important part of the city’s history. He points out the “searing truth” that there are no monuments to slaves ships that docked in New Orleans, and that there is no public recognition “of the shame of slavery,” in their city and reminds defenders of these monuments that there is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.
Watch his speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ29Uwz5yPU
- In his meeting today with the U.S. President, Pope Francis gave him a copy of his 2015 encyclical (fancy name for papal document on important topics), which makes an urgent plea for drastic measures to cut fossil-fuel emissions and other environmental protection. For someone who has claimed the climate change is a hoax fabricated by the Chinese, hopefully the president (or at least members of his staff) will take some time to learn from this document on his flight back to the U.S.
And yet, grim news continues to emanate from Washington, D.C.
FY18 Federal Budget Plan Released
Yesterday the White House released the president’s “America first” (a.k.a. “taxpayer-first”) budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. In the budget, the big winner is the defense industry, with $469 billion added over the decade. Border security also receives a boost (note that it appears the plan is now for American rather than Mexican taxpayers to pay for a border wall), and the Veterans Administration gets additional funding to allow veterans to seek outside medical care (this last thing we can get behind!) 6 weeks of paid parental leave are also added, which appears to be the “big win” for which Ivanka has been angling – still far behind many other wealthy industrial nations.
The effect this budget would have on economically disadvantaged members of our community is dire: Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance, SNAP (food stamps), school lunch programs, disability benefits, individuals with student loans, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health – all stand to lose significant funding.
American Health Care Act CBO Score
The House of Representatives on May 4 passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) before a Congressional Budget Office score had been derived. Today, just about 3 weeks after their vote, the CBO has released its estimates on what effect this bill will have:
- 23 million people will lose their insurance over the next decade, beginning with 14 million losing coverage next year
- Medicaid spending will be cut considerably, resulting in 14 million fewer covered by the program by 2026
- Low-income senior citizens will in some cases end up paying up 800% what they do now
- In states that opt for waivers from certain mandates, premiums for those with pre-existing conditions could increase dramatically
- Maternity care, mental health, and substance abuse support is decreased significantly
In the meantime, 13 men in the Senate are working on their own version of the bill. It probably can’t be a lot worse than what the House passed, but I personally don’t have high hopes for what they’ll come up with.
What can you do about this?
Call your governor and make sure they know you are counting on them to oppose AHCA as well as the draconian cuts to our social safety net as proposed by this budget.
Massachusetts (R-Charlie Baker): (617) 725-4005
New York (D-Andrew Cuomo): (518) 474-8390
Vermont (R-Phil Scott): (802) 828-3333
If you prefer to write, use these links:
MA – Baker: http://www.mass.gov/governor/constituent-services/contact-governor-office/
NY – Cuomo: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
VT – Scott: http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message
Are there topics you’d like to know more about? Do you have a question you’d like our team to answer? Or our Bullet Points Team to further research?
Let us know!
Upcoming Book Group: Strangers in their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
Our Book Group meets next on Thursday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 53 Lois Street, North Adams.
Our Next Greylock Together Meeting is Sunday, June 4, 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the Williamstown Youth Center. We hope Dustin Reidy from NY-19 will be able to join us, as he was ill this past Sunday and unable to make it. For those of you who haven’t made it to a meeting in a while – don’t be shy about reconnecting. We want to see anyone and everyone, regardless of how often they’re able to join in on the in-person fellowship and discussion!
Have a great long weekend!