Democracy Matters Even More Now
There is no leadership at the top, and the people that surround this dysfunctional President are incompetent. If it wasn’t clear before it certainly was after Trump finally gave a televised address and then proceeded to make a bunch of false statements in addition to declaring harmful steps and not announcing policies that could actually slow the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Then, Senate Republicans announced they would work actively to stop the lifesaving measures Democrats in Congress are proposing in new legislation.
Call Rep. Brindisi, Sen. Gillibrand, and Sen. Schumer and tell them you support H.R.6201 (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act). The bill hasn’t even passed the House yet, and GOP senators are already working against it; we need to make sure it passes in the House and that the Senate is ready to pass it as soon as they receive it. There are literally lives on the line. Click here to connect directly to your senators’ offices.
IMV’s Steering Committee continues to meet frequently by Zoom call as we always do, and we encourage other groups to work together this way. If you need help setting up virtual meetings, please email IndivisibleMohawkValley@gmail.com. We will monitor events on the calendar and continue to notify our members about changes and cancellations. Indivisible National has provided this important guidance about continuing our work under current conditions. If you have not read it yet, please do.
This is the moment we need to double down on our activism, even if we do so respecting all the CDC recommendations and protocols. Use your phone and your email and make your voice heard. Use your constituent power. We’ve been practicing for years, and we can’t stop now.
Last Week’s IMV Meeting
Even with beautiful weather for petitioning, and early concerns about the spread of the virus, we had a great March 2020 meeting at MVCC on International Women’s Day last Sunday. Our IMV ally speaker was Kari Procopio from the YWCA Mohawk Valley. She talked about the agency’s services related to domestic and sexual violence in our community, and then moved on to the YWCA’s national policy priorities around for women, especially women and girls of color. She shared this new advocacy tool, which we can all sign up for and use. We were impressed because when you enter your address, it provides you with contact information for all your government representatives down to the local level.
Our other speaker was Ricky Silver from Empire State Indivisible. We learned a lot from his presentation (You can see the slides here) on the NYS budget, and what we can do to advocate for budget justice. A large coalition across the state, including Indivisible groups, has been working to move the Governor and state legislators to increase revenue from those who can easily afford it–the billionaires and multi-millionaires whose wealth has exploded in recent years as they benefit from living in our state. For more information: www.nybudgetjustice.com and for information about the proposed revenue measures:https://makebillionairespay.info/we-need-a-wealth-tax-on-the-billionaire-class.
There is significant non partisan research showing a majority of New Yorkers support taxing the ultra wealthy at higher rates, and that the overall outcome will be very few ultra wealthy people leaving the state, and far more revenue to support poor communities both urban and rural, counties burdened by needed Medicaid increases, public schools, health care, and climate protections.
The budget will be decided in just a few weeks. Call the Governor, and your state representatives and ask for an increase in the 2% spending cap austerity that falls hardest on low income people and communities, and that the super rich pay their fair share. Seriously, you pay tax on a kayak your family buys for weekend recreation, whereas the ultra rich get a tax break when they buy a yacht. It needs to change.
At our Budget Forum with Senator Rachel May on Wednesday in Hamilton, we learned from her just how politically challenging the situation is. She shared honestly the frustrations that legislators have with the process and the Governor. They have very little information and data about current spending, and where money goes. The information imbalance is one reason the Governor has almost all the power in the process. We should support a bill that would create a non partisan budget analysis office similar to the Congressional Budget Office.
Sen. May did not seem optimistic about raising the 2% spending cap (which could help the counties cope with Medicaid) nor about the various revenue measures, even though we need to keep pushing. Some of that has to do with the leadership not wanting to alienate the Governor any more than necessary in a year when they are hoping to gain enough more Dem seats to obtain a super rather than narrow majority in the Senate, which would give them more power, ultimately, in the budget process with the Governor. If he decides not to help Democrats win more seats in Albany this summer and fall because he’s mad because they are pushing him, that just makes things worse.
Finally, while Sen. May also didn’t seem optimistic about getting more funding for the climate bill, she thought it possible that the public health crisis might trigger renewed discussions on the NY Health Act and/or a NY state requirement for paid sick leave. Overall, she agreed with our speaker, Ricky Silver that the fight for budget justice in New York is a long term one, and we should keep educating the pubic and building power, as most of the measures will take some time to gain traction in Albany.
More Calls to Make to Rep. Brindisi
Here are just some of the calls Indivisible was asking us to make this week. If you find you have time on your hands because of cancelled meetings, this is a place to start:
- Demand that Congress stop war with Iran.The House may vote this week on Sen. Kaine’s war powers resolution (S.J.Res.68) that would prevent Trump from waging war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it. Call your MoC this week to tell them to vote Yes on the Kaine war powers resolution.
- Demand that your Representative support the #NoBanAct.This week, the House will vote on the No Ban Act to repeal Trump’s Muslim Ban. The ban was one of the first executive actions Trump announced when he took office, and since then he has only made it broader and more severe. Use the resources at the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign website linked here to contact your Representative and tell them to #RepealTheBan!
3. Tell your Representative it’s time to end surprise medical bills. Every day, over 10,000 families in the United States receive a surprise medical bill. Congress needs to act to protect patients, and in the process hold down health care costs for families and the health system overall. Call your Representative and tell them to end surprise medical bills for health services!
Two Forms to Carry While You Petition
Here’s an important reminder from Petitioner Extraordinaire Jennifer Geiger. When you are out petitioning, be sure that you ask about two things at every door:
1) Is there anyone in the house who is not registered to vote? If we ask consistently about this, we WILL register more new voters. Asking at every door makes a difference.
2) Will anyone need to vote by absentee ballot in November? College students are most obvious–if they will be away at school. But people who are planning long term travel or who have major surgery or healthcare concerns may also need to vote absentee.
In both cases, you will need to have forms with you. If you don’t have request for absentee ballot forms or voter registration forms, please email IndivisibleMohawkValley@gmail.com and we will send you forms. Even if you are not petitioning, or are no longer petitioning because of public health concerns, you’ll want to have these forms ready to go for late summer and early fall canvassing.
Friends, take a deep breath and remember that we are a community. A smile and kind word go a long way, especially when avoiding physical contact and proximity. We will keep you updated on calendar changes, and will encourage everyone to take all the precautions they can for themselves and their loved ones. Remember, politics and public policy is just as important now as it was a month ago, or a year ago. We need to stay in the game, even if we make it more electronic for a while. Stay healthy and safe.