New American Resistance – 3 July

Alright, so Congress is on recess all week.  The Senate doesn’t resume until the 10th and the House is out until the 11th.  However, the egregious assault on our health care continues so I figured we’d do the post anyway.  Also, even if they are out of their D.C. offices, you can (and should!) feel free to call all their offices and leave messages about how important health care is.  As usual, this series aims to a) help us stay informed on the events unfolding in America and b) urge readers to add their voice to the chorus calling out for justice.  We must be aware.  We must be vocal.  We must be active.  We must be loving.  This is how we will triumph and how we will transform our lives, our nation, and our world.

Since it’s the Fourth of July tomorrow, I figured we’d go with Bruce Springsteen (again!) as our musical inspiration.  Here’s one of my all-time favorite songs of his, “American Land.”  It’s an “immigrant song” and, as such, gets to the heart of what makes American what it is.  We are at our best when we see the truth and beauty of this.

Be Vocal/Active

Here’s what’s coming up that we need to talk to our representatives about or call/email/mail other people in government/powerNote, whenever possible, have the bill number of the issue you’re calling about ready to share with the staffer who answers the phone.

1)  Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – This is still the big fight.  I don’t want to just go over everything we went over last week but it’s important that we’re all informed on how this will hurt Americans, especially those most in need of help.  So, here are some quick links if you’d like to know more.  We can’t let up the heat on this!

NPR outlines with beautiful detail how the BCRA stacks up against the ACA and the AHCA.  Spoiler alert, it gives the most money to the wealthy at the expense of the most amount of Americans.

The American Medical Association rejects it.  The American Psychological Association rejects it.  The AARP rejects.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, and American Hospital Association have come out against it as well.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also denounced it.

If you don’t want to click the above links (which I hope you do!) below is the information c/o NPR that outlines how dangerous the BCRA actually is.  The rest of the post follows:

________________________________________________________

People under 26

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Can get insurance through a parent’s plan or buy independently.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Stays the same.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

Stays the same.

Adults under 65

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Can buy insurance on health exchanges, with tax credits and subsidies if they meet income requirements up to 400 percent of poverty level. Cost of insurance is based on tobacco use and age, with the people nearing 65 paying no more than three times what the youngest pay. Premiums can’t cost more than 9.5 percent of income. Those with very low or no income qualify for Medicaid.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Will see tax credits to pay premiums based on age, not income, and that max out at $4,000, much less than under the ACA. The oldest people under 65 can be charged five times more than the youngest, and maybe more depending on state rules. Medicaid cut after 2020.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

The CBO report says 22 million people would lose health insurance over the next 10 years, with people between 50-64 disproportionally impacted. The oldest people under 65 would pay five times more than younger people on the exchanges. Subsidies to help pay for insurance would be less and end at incomes of 350 percent of poverty level. Federal contributions to Medicaid start to decline in fiscal year 2020.

Low-income nursing home residents

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Skilled nursing care covered by Medicare up to 100 days. Medicaid is available based on income.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Skilled nursing care covered by Medicare up to 100 days. Medicaid services could be cut as states see federal funding decline.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

Skilled nursing care covered by Medicare up to 100 days per illness. Medicaid coverage for nursing home services could be cut as federal payments to states decline.

People with pre-existing medical conditions

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Coverage cannot be denied or cost more.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

States can get permission to let insurers charge more for some pre-existing conditions and to exclude some people altogether. States would have access to federal money to help those with expensive policies or conditions.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

Insurance companies would be required to accept all applicants regardless of health status. But the draft bill lets states ask permission to reduce required coverage, also called “essential health benefits,” which would give insurers some discretion over what they offer in their plans. That could result in “substantial increases” in costs for people who want those services, according to the CBO. If a particular benefit is no longer classified as essential, insurers could impose annual and/or lifetime limits on what they spend on patients for that benefit. And caps on the annual out-of-pocket costs for patients would no longer apply.

People who go to Planned Parenthood

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Federal programs reimburse for most Planned Parenthood services.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

A one-year block will be placed on federal reimbursements for care provided by Planned Parenthood.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

A one-year block will be placed on federal reimbursements for care provided by Planned Parenthood. The CBO estimates 15 percent of women would lose access to family planning care, increasing birth rates and Medicaid spending for childbirth and children’s insurance. But those increases would be offset by Planned Parenthood cuts.

People with disabilities

The majority of Medicaid dollars go to people with disabilities.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

May qualify for Medicare and also Medicaid.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Services covered by Medicaid could be cut as federal funding to states declines over time.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

Services covered by Medicaid could be cut as federal funding to states declines over time. The CBO report suggests that by 2026, Medicaid enrollment would fall by more than 15 million people.

People who use mental health services

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Covered by all plans under essential health benefits.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Could lose coverage in states that get waivers from covering essential health benefits.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

States could request waivers to opt out of requiring essential health benefits. If a state opted out of coverage for mental health care, the CBO says insurance that includes mental health care coverage could become “extremely expensive.”

Working poor on Medicaid

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia offer expanded Medicaid coverage.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Federal funding for Medicaid expansion phases out, potentially affecting millions of people who are currently enrolled under the expansion.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

Federal funding for Medicaid expansion phases out between 2021 and 2023. In addition, eight states would have a trigger clause — if the federal matching rate declines below the ACA-promised rates, the expansion goes away immediately in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington. Further reductions would start in 2025. In a separate provision, states could impose a work requirement on recipients. Most able-bodied adult Medicaid recipients already work.

The wealthy

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (OBAMACARE)

Pay extra taxes to support ACA.

HOUSE BILL: AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

The bill would repeal ACA taxes on corporations and cut taxes for the wealthy by about $592 billion.

SENATE DRAFT: BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT

Similar to the House bill; would repeal ACA taxes on corporations and the wealthy that pay for insurance subsidies. That would add up to about $563 billion in tax cuts over 10 years, according to the CBO.

______________________________________________

So please, please, please call your senators.  Call them often.  If they are against the BCRA, thank them and tell them to never give up their fight.  If they are in favor of it, let them know the damage it will cause and let them know you’ll hold them accountable for their vote the next time they are up for re-election.

 Be Aware/Informed

These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:

1)  As the investigation into potential Trump and his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia continues, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that, “A well-known Republican operative who asserted he was working for Trump campaign adviser Michael Flynn was actively seeking hacker help in obtaining private emails from Hillary Clinton’s server, and intelligence agencies had intercepted discussions from Russian hackers at how to provide such help and transmit it back to Michael Flynn and his operatives.”

2)  In an unnerving example of where we seem to be ever moving as a country, “A few hundred armed militia group members, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Ku Klux Klaners, supporters of President Donald Trump, and other self-described patriots descended upon the Gettysburg battlefield Saturday to defend the site’s Confederate symbols from phantom activists with the violent far-left group Antifa….even after Antifa made it clear its adherents never planned to show up ― the only bloodshed came when a lone militia group member accidentally shot himself in the leg….Saturday’s rally in Gettysburg showed pro-Confederate activists increasingly agitated, armed, and itching for a fight ― even when there is no one to clash with them.”

3)  With a SUPER pro-gun advocate in the White House (you know, unless you’re talking about letting the NRA carry guns at a rally where he’s speaking), the NRA has released a new add, complete with a new phantom fear to spew their idolatrous love of guns.  “The problem with this rhetoric isn’t, again, that it’s telling people to use violence against others. It’s that it functions as a kind of anti-politics — casting the NRA’s political opponents as devious enemies who can’t be opposed through normal politics. Republicans control all three branches of government and a large majority of statehouses nationwide. There is literally zero chance that any kind of major gun control passes in America in the foreseeable future.  The threat, instead, is from a kind of liberal-cultural fifth column: People who are acting outside of legitimate political channels to upend American freedoms, through protest and violence. It’s a paranoid vision of American life that encourages the NRA’s fans to see liberals not as political opponents, but as monsters.”

4)  In an ever increasing era of absurdity, we see a new bar set for how egotistical Trump is.  A Time magazine cover hangs in Trump’s golf clubs with him on the cover…annnnnd it is 100% fake.  Yep, let’s say that again.  There is a fake magazine cover with him on it hanging in his golf club.

5)  Trump was also on Twitter again earlier this week, making incredibly derogatory comments about Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski.  “Donald Trump, from almost the moment he became a candidate for President two years ago, has set about making the outrageous ordinary….There’s a natural human tendency when faced with a series of behaviors considered outrageous or unacceptable to begin to slough them off. To normalize them. That’s just Trump being Trump! He says stuff!…But, this is the President of the United States we are talking about. Someone who, whether he likes it or not, is a role model. Someone who has a profound influence on how not only we adults treat each other but how our children view the acceptable bounds of how to act toward one another.”  Even prominent Republicans called out to Trump afterwards to stop, saying this was degrading the office of the president.  Yet, as per usual, he didn’t stop, back down, and life just kept on rolling.  We have to stop normalizing these things.  Trump being Trump is ridiculous if he’s just a corrupt real estate moguel.  As President of the United States?  Yep, unacceptable.  Yet here we are.

6)  Annnnd then (on the subject of Twitter) he tweeted a meme of himself wrestling CNN because…uh, he’s umm…fighting “fake news” or something?  I…what world am I living in?  Best of all, this keeps all news outlets talking about this inane bullshit as opposed to real problems, real policies that can hurt people, and the like.  It’s yet another example of the crazy narcisistic game of smoke and mirrors he’s playing.

Speaking Truth To Power

This section highlights those who are daring to speak out against the corruption in our government. Sadly, given the way our media operates, we must turn to comedians to do the job journalists should do.  Thankfully, we have these insightful, powerful voices – many trained by Jon Stewart over the years – to speak the truth.

1)  John Oliver explains the horrible effect this partial reinstatement of Trump’s travel ban will have on people trying to enter this country especially refugees, some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  “This ban is cruel, unnecessary, and it undermines our position in the world.”  It’s brilliant AND under five minutes long.  So watch this!!

2)  On the final episode of The Late Show before the 4th of July break, Stephen Colbert looks at Trump’s approval ratings all over the world.  Spoiler alert: the clip’s hilarious and people don’t like Trump (except in Russia…weird).

3)  The title of this clip says it all.  Go Stephen!

4)  Lastly, here’s Stephen on the Senate’s health care bill. He discusses the dangers inherent in this legislation and Trump’s disconnect from the realities of something as important as health care.

Food-for-Thought Pieces

1)  While I’m not as hopeless as the author of this piece – “I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People” – it raises some very important points. How do we have the sort of dialogue that engages and opens the heart? We need everyone to see all human beings have equal worth because they’re made in the image and likeness of God and, as such, must be cared for.

Be Loving

Now I turn to my faith, Jesus, scripture, and those who have followed those messages best to remind myself why I fight, how I fight, and who I fight for:

In the spirit of both the partial renewal of Trump’s travel ban and the refugees it will so hurt, as well as the fact that America is – and always has been – a country of immigrants, here’s a prayer from the USCCB for Migrants and Refugees.

Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.

 Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God’s family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.

Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,

To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;

To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;

To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;

To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;

To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.

 We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The battle for justice is only just beginning.  Join the Resistance!  Give it all you have!  I encourage anyone interested in helping speak out about and challenge the injustices growing around us to do so.  If you’d like, reach out to me in the comments or message me on Twitter.  You’re certainly welcome to send me news you’d like to see included!  I am only one person and, as such, have a finite ability to track these things.  If you happen to be a blogger or vlogger yourself, you’re also welcome to take what I post in these weekly calls to action and share it on your own site too if you feel so called.  But, most of all, I hope you’ll take advantage of the direct link that is in this post and all the posts to follow to call – and keep calling – your representatives.  Democracy works if we participate.  Love will triumph if we have faith.  We can’t give up our belief in those principles or we’ve already lost the struggle.

We’ll end with another Springsteen performance (yay again!).  Here he is singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”  Woody Guthrie wrote this song as sort of a counter to the National Anthem, reflecting on those often left out of the American Dream and calling on all of us in America to remember the best of what we can and should be.

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9 thoughts on “New American Resistance – 3 July

  1. “Day of glory! welcome day!
    Freedom’s banners greet thy ray;
    See! how cheerfully they play
          With thy morning breeze,
    On the rocks where pilgrims kneel’d,
    On the heights where squadrons wheel’d,
    When a tyrant’s thunder peal’d,
          O’er the trembling seas…
    O let freemen be our sons;
    And let future Washingtons
    Rise, to lead their valiant ones,
          Till there’s war no more.”
    ~John Pierpont (1785–1866), “Independence”

    Happy 4th Of July tomorrow, Michael!
    U lucky boy! U live in th only country in th world that celebrates its own birthday, so enjoy this golden opp to have CAKE!
    Dwell not on th absurdities of th last 6-18 months, but celebrate th glories of th last 141 yrs!
    As u say in your country:
    Have A Nice Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Brad! What a beautiful perspective – celebrating all the glories of the past as opposed to thinking of the last year or so. Reading that brought a smile to my face and it’s exactly what I’ll do today. The whole comment brought a smile to my face actually! That’s such a gorgeous poem.

      I might have to be proactive in my search of cake though. There was talk of a strong pie presence at the family’s this afternoon. And, for this guy, pie’s alright…but it’s certainly no cake! So I’ll have to make sure to rectify the situation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank u, Michael!
        Actually, strongpiepresence was going to b th original name for my site until going w th shorter, cooler (and wiser!) option.
        Thank u for Th Boss and Colbert vids – both exceptional performers
        Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The million$ upon million$ upon million$ of dollar$
    politicians waste to get into or stay in office would
    easily pay for the needs of this country. (Education
    & Health Care) But educated & healthy citizens are
    seen as a threat & not the priority unfortunately. This
    political system is driven by ego & not by public service.

    America has never been the “land of the free” now we
    are living in “the land of PTSD” to be completely honest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is as sickening as it is heartbreaking. I read something once where the author suggested Congress wear patches on their clothing (like NASCAR drivers) so we could all clearly see the corporations they work for. The idolatrous love of wealth and power that rules this country is so disheartening. You’re absolutely right too – healthy and educated citizens are a threat to the system.

      In regard to all of this I often think of the lyrics to “Masters Of War,” one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. I don’t remember if I shared this before but he sings, “Let me ask you one question / Is your money that good / Will it buy you forgiveness / Do you think that it could / I think you will find / When your death takes its toll / All the money you made / Will never buy back your soul”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our pleasure! It is always a great joy to discover amazing blogs
        & open-minded thinkers, always looking forward to your insights!
        * My Hero by the Foo Fighters triumphantly plays on the speakers!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well I’m honored to be counted in a such a group. Also, sxcellent tune! You know what? I haven’t listened to the Foo Fighters in a while. I might have to rock out to them now.

        Like

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