May 16, 2017, Yet More Shock and Awe :-(

Every week is a stunner, isn't it? So much sturm und drang, so little time or energy to try to respond in a meaningful way to all of it. The key, I think, is to focus: one or two national issues/opportunities and one or two state issues/opportunities. Everyone will have her own set — I certainly have mine — so this week, instead of including a piece on a specific issue, I am offering a range of political actions individuals can take on a variety of issues.

Let's start with local issues. As the budget battles loom, there is no end of issues to address. So here are three that have been in the news lately: gas tax v. wheel tax v. bond issues; funding university scholarships with money diverted from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program; eliminating the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit and taxing investment income just like other income to free up funds for important investments.

Your job? Call your legislators, write letters to the editors, talk about these issues with family, friends, and on your social media outlets. You could also speak up at town hall and listening sessions in the area. As it happens, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is holding some "office hours" in locations that aren't too far from the North Shore! On Thursday, May 18, he'll be at the Horicon Marsh Visitors Center, N7725 St Road 28, Horicon, at 11:30 AM. On Monday, May 22, he'll be at the Johnson Creek Village Hall (Johnson Creek Village Hall, 125 Depot St, Johnson Creek) at 10:00 AM and at the Public Library in Oconomowoc (200 W South St., Oconomowoc) at 12 noon. Road trip anyone?

Even closer to home, Represenative Joe Sanfelippo will be at the New Berlin Public Library (15105 West Library Lane, New Berlin) at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, May 23, and at the West Allis City Hall (7525 West Greenfield Avenue, West Allis) on Wednesday, May 24 at 7:00 PM.

National issues take up a lot of the oxygen these days. We have a completely dysfunctional (and terrifying) executive branch coupled with a crassly self-serving Republican Congress. Just keeping up with the daily events is exhausting, so FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS. Indivisible offers help. It's promoting some top priorities for this week:

  1. Call for an independent prosecutor to investigate Trump's ties to Russia. Last week, Trump not only fired FBI Director James Comey, he then went on national television and admitted that the Russia investigation was part of his reason for doing so. The American people deserve to know just how serious this administration's ties to Russia are, but it's clear that Republican Members of Congress aren't in a hurry to find the answers. And we can't trust whoever Trump nominates as the next FBI Director to take this seriously either.
  2. Keep defending the ACA. From Virginia to California, you made the most of Payback Recess at town halls and die-ins across the country to hold the House accountable for the shameful vote to pass TrumpCare. Now it's time to start making sure your Senators know that if they pass this bill, they can expect the same constituent outrage the House saw this recess. Need a refresher on the rest of the AHCA's path to becoming law? Read up on TrumpCare Passed the House: Now What?
  3. If you want to prevent the next financial crisis, this week could be your chance. Once they are back from recess, the House is planning to vote on the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), a bill that will deregulate Wall Street. Here's your script for making calls.

A "feature" of the American Health Care Act proposes to "help" people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to set up so-called high-risk pools. Wisconsin had one of those before the ACA (Obamacare) made it unnecessary and Speaker Ryan is touting it as an example of the concept's success. The Journal Sentinel did a good job of explaining the issue (and hinting at its inadequacy) yesterday. So, if you applied for coverage under the high-risk program that preceded Obamacare and were denied or found the premiums to be way out of reach, write a letter to the editor or send me your story. I will use what you send me without attribution so that we can get these stories out to push back against the idea that high-risk pools are an adequate substitute for mandated coverage of people with pre-existing conditions without higher premiums. That's what Obamacare provides now and we must insist that these protections remain in any "replacement" the GOP enacts into law!

Finally, get beyond marching, calling, writing, and wringing your hands! Apply for an Organizing Fellowship with the Wisconsin Coordinated Campaign. The volunteer positions begin June 10th and run through August 25. Full-time fellows will commit to a minimum of 40 hours/week. Part-time fellows will commit to at least 20 hours per week. Deadline for application is Friday, May 26. This is a great opportunity for people who want to become a critical member of the next generation of community organizers. You will help our movement expand its outreach in neighborhoods across Wisconsin, and learn the skills and tools necessary to become a campaign operative.

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