The Budget Wars Begin

We cannot mince words: the Trump budget proposal is catastrophic. For human health, for the environment, for scientific research and technological development, for early childhood education, for pregnant women and babies, for people trying to manage disabilities, for nursing home patients. Who will be untouched by the misery that will unfold when these cuts flow through our lives? Not those whose jobs will be cut. Not those who depend on school lunches. Not those who want to leave the world less polluted in the future. Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Center for Disease Control, calls the Administration Proposal for the 2018 CDC "Unsafe at any level of enactment" (@DrFrieden). Surely that characterization is apt not just for the CDC but for every area of our daily lives.

To be sure, presidential budget plans are never actually enacted as written. So the document unveiled today is almost certainly not what Congress will pass. But it is a declaration of priorities and principles of sorts. Some even call these documents moral statements. So we can't exactly ignore it. Once the news media slow their coverage of the latest terrorist attack, there will be a tsunami of stories about nearly every aspect of the budget proposal. And all the usual exhortations apply: so pick your issues and call your representatives.

Senator Ron Johnson should certainly be at the top of your call list. At his town hall in Franklin on May 21, he began by stressing the looming disaster that our deficits pose. Ask him which parts of the budget plan he thinks he's likely to support. Ask him how the tax cuts in the Trump budget will affect that deficit ten years out. And don't let him or his staff get away with saying that the economic growth that will be unleashed by the massive tax cut for the uber-rich will take care of the additional accumulation of debts. Request an example from the past proving that tax cuts pay for themselves. (After Reagan cut taxes he found he had to raise them again because of looming deficits. After Bush cut taxes, twice, the deficit took off like a rocket!) Or ask whether he really just agrees with Dick Cheney who famously said about the Bush tax cuts that "deficits don't matter."

And ask him about the HUGE cuts to safety net programs, especially Medicaid. At the town hall he said that he did not want to "pull the rug out from under anyone." That was his recurring response to pleas from the mothers of autistic children fearing cuts to Medicaid and from citizens whose pre-existing conditions might prevent them from obtaining affordable healthcare coverage under "Trumpcare." Ask him how the Trump budget will address their needs. Ask him whether he expects states to fill the gaps and if so whether, when they have to raise taxes, the vaunted stimulus from federal tax reductions for the wealthy will be undercut by the loss of income among the merely upper- and middle-classes.

We need to fight these things in the trenches, on the beaches, or at least in the halls of Congress; on Twitter and Facebook; in letters to the editor. Yes, even in the ghastly comment sections of the Journal Sentinel. Put aside your writer's block. If you're nervous about calling up legislators, have a wee dram first! Break through whatever barriers you have; conquer your demons. The next 18 months will be the fight of our lives, maybe of the century. We must try to save as much of the progress our country has made in the last 100 years as we can. Even though we know fighting the budget battle will be frustrating, this struggle will form the groundwork for electoral success in 2018. So keep your eyes on that prize and get to work.

On a brighter note, beginning with last week's, the newsletter will now appear online a day or two after it goes out in its regular email format. You can find the last one on our website. They'll show up under the "Weekly Newsletter Archive" menu.



Tue May 23

Evicted: Poverty and Profit, 7pm 
Congregation Sinai, 8223 N. Port Washington Rd, Milwaukee 
Please join a discussion of Matthew Desmond's Pulitzer Prize winning book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City." Special guests Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Ellen Brostrom and Legal Action of Wisconsin Attorney Raphael Ramos will share challenges of low-income housing, instability in the lives of people facing housing challenges, and how all this works "on the ground" in small claims court. Sponsored by the Congregation Sinai Social Justice Committee and Tikkun Ha-Ir.

WedMay 24

League of Women Voters - Waukesha, 6:30am - 8am 
Menomonee Falls Public Library, Pilgrim Road, Menomonee Falls 
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the creation of a Waukesha League of Women's Voters Chapter and the League's vision going forward.This will be followed by a discussion of how a Waukesha Chapter might be formed.

On the Issues: Public Safety Assessment, 12:15pm - 1:15pm 
Marquette University, Eckstein Hall, 1215 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee 
Last year, Milwaukee County began using a risk assessment tool, the Public Safety Assessment, designed to provide judges with research-based, predictive information about the risk that a defendant released before trial will engage in violence, commit a new crime, or fail to return to court. Guest speakers Milwaukee County Chief Judge Maxine White, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, and Wisconsin First Assistant State Public Defender Tom Reed will discuss the reasons for the PSA initiative, its implementation, and its early results. This event is now sold out. Sign up for the waiting list.

Refuel the Resistance, 5pm - 8pm 
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee 
Weekly gathering at Bounce Milwaukee's mezzanine bar for networking, inspiration or just to vent. Bring along any evidence of your civic action from the last week to get a beverage (up to $7) on the house, and compare notes with other individuals and groups working to make things better. Guest bartender this week will be activist Dakota Hall. More information.

Milwaukee Talks Green, 6:30pm - 8pm 
Outpost Natural Foods, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee 
The monthly meeting of Milwaukee Talks Green will focus on renewable energy and solar solutions. Learn how Wisconsin compares to other states in solar energy use and how you might be able to afford solar. Free and open to the public.

Thu May 25

Mayor Barrett Spring Symposium, 7:30am - 9am 
Italian Conference Center, 631 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee 
Mayor Tom Barrett's Spring Symposium: A discussion on why non-partisan redistricting is needed in Wisconsin. Doors open at 7 am. Sponsorship levels: Premier Table Sponsor: $2,500 | Table Sponsor: $1,000 (table seats 10) | Mayor's Club Membership: $400 | Attendee: $100. To Sponsor and RSVP. More information: email Zach or call him at (414) 271-8050.

Citizen Action Meet and Greet, 6pm - 7:30pm 
WI Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, 9620 W. Greenfield Ave, 2nd fl, West Allis 
Join Citizen Action to meet three new community organizers, learn about their work, tell how you think Citizen Action needs to move forward, and celebrate the growth of this collective organization together! Anthony Herring - Northside Milwaukee Civic Engagement Organizer; Justin Bielinski - Substance Use Disorder Prevention/Health Reform Organizer; Katie Dunn - "Healthcare for All" co-op organizer. RSVP.

Waukesha Writers Club, 6:30pm - 8pm 
336 Wisconsin Ave, Waukesha 
The "Letter to the Editor" section is one of the most widely read parts of the newspaper, offering a chance to reach a broad audience. Letters to our legislators are also an effective way to let them know what we expect of them. Working together gives us the opportunity to discuss the current issues, improve writing skills, develop persuasive techniques that target intended readers, and help each other with ideas and suggestions. Sponsored by Grassroots Waukesha ([email protected]).

Sat May 27

Community Brainstorming, 8am - 11am 
St. Matthew CME Church, 2944 N. 9th St., Milwaukee 
Community Brainstorming Conference Breakfast Forum Breakfast: 8 am, Program: 9 am Wisconsin's Legislative Redistricting Presenters: James Hall, Attorney at Law; Fred Kessler, Representative, Wisconsin State Legislature; Robert Smith, Associate Professor, UW-Milwaukee; William Whitford, Law Professor Emeritus, UW-Madison Chair and Moderator, Hon. Russell Stamper Sr. All Are Invited, Come and Participate. Details.

Sun May 28

"The South Side [Chicago]" Author Event, 3pm 
Boswell Book Co., 2559 N. Downer Ave. Milwaukee 
Chicago native Natalie Moore, author of "The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation," highlights the impact of Chicago's historic segregation – and the ongoing policies that keep the system intact.

Wed May 31

Conversations with Policy Leaders, 4pm - 5:30pm 
728 N. James Lovell Street, 2nd Floor Gathering Room, Milwaukee 
Join us for a discussion with Charles Franklin Director, Marquette Law School Poll. Franklin will speak on concerns about the 2016 polling results, as well as data that can provide insights on issues central to the Public Policy Institute's mission to reduce and prevent poverty, including health care policy, incarceration, and prisoner re-entry. RSVP by Friday, May 26, 2017, to Lisa Kaiser. Light refreshments will be served. Please bring a guest! Sponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.

Refuel the Resistance, 5pm - 8pm 
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee 
Weekly gathering at Bounce Milwaukee's mezzanine bar for networking, inspiration or just to vent. Bring along any evidence of positive effort from the last week -- a selfie in the capitol, protest sign, email you sent to an elected official, whatever you have -- and get a coffee, tea, soda, wine, beer or cocktail (up to $7) on the house, and compare notes with other individuals and groups working to make things better. More information.

Thu Jun 1

Urban Revitalization Public Hearing, 1pm - 5pm 
The Urban Revitalization Committee of the Wisconsin Assembly will hold a hearing for testimony from invited guests and the general public, and will accept written testimony at the hearing or sent to the office of the committee chairman (Rep. Bob Gannon, PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708).

DPMC Issues Committee Meeting, 6:30pm - 8pm 
Amalgamated Transit Union, 734 N. 26th St., Milwaukee 
The Democratic Party's Issues Committee will hold its monthly meeting. All Democrats are welcome to participate. Enter from the parking lot.

Fri Jun 2

Democratic State Convention, 2pm - 10pm 
Madison Marriott West, 1313 John Q Hammons Dr., Middleton 
More information on the convention.

Sat Jun 3

Democratic State Convention, 8am - 2:30pm 
Madison Marriott West, 1313 John Q Hammons Dr., Middleton 
More information on the convention.

Mon Jun 5

Drinking Liberally Waukesha, 6:30pm - 9pm 
Clarke Irish Pub, 314 W. Main St., Waukesha 
Susan Gartel from League of Conservation Voters will be speaking. More information.

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