We are the Americans who saved health insurance

I hope you saw the NYT article, The Americans Who Saved Health Insurance. It gives credit to the citizens (us!), the organizers (IndivisibleGuide! Stand Up SF!), and the experts who fought for our healthcare.


If you’re like me, you’ve needed a breather since the TrumpCare battle. We all need to re-charge. And re-charge we did at Caryn’s party last Saturday! Many thanks to Caryn for opening her home and making us a beautiful spread of home-made salsas and a gorgeous assortment of enchiladas and other yummy treats. It was so good to have a chance to connect with everyone. I hope you all left feeling invigorated like I did.

Yesterday we had a promising development on healthcare, with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions announcing they will introduce a bill to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market. As the NYTimes puts it, “it’s good to see politicians actually doing their jobs.”

And speaking of politicians who do their jobs, wasn’t it heartwarming to see the reception that GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski received when they returned home after standing strong against all the various bills to take away our healthcare? Sen. Collins said of her enthusiastic reception at the airport, “I’ve never had that happen in the 20 years that I’ve been privileged to serve in the Senate. It was very encouraging and affirming, especially arriving back home after a very difficult time.”

In other promising news:

Mark your calendars for our August all-hands meeting!

Sunday Aug 20th, 2-4pm
Noe Valley Library, San Francisco

Stand Up SF actions:

  • Thank Senators Harris and Feinstein for standing up for the ACA. You can say something like “Thank you for fighting for healthcare for all Americans! You’ve saved health care for tens of millions of us. Now please do everything you can to ensure Trump does not destabilize the insurance markets.”
  • Call both Senators and tell them to oppose H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017. It weakens the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, and delays life-saving health standards already years
    overdue.
  • The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S.1460), would greatly expand fracking and natural gas infrastructure. It expedites review of fracked gas export terminals, instructs the BLM to create a pilot program for expediting drilling and fracking permits, authorizes $3 billion in “clean coal” subsidies, and more. Call Senators and tell them we don’t need more fracking and drilling, and to reject Senate bill 1460.

Schumer: We’re ready for single payer

Just a few hours ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that single payer health care is “on the table”, along with other options like making Medicare available to people over 55. This is huge news: we said we wanted single payer, and Senate Democrats are listening. As Paul Hessinger quoted at our meeting yesterday, “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

While Schumer is optimistic that the GOP’s latest disaster of a healthcare bill (repeal everything, replace with nothing) will not pass, Sen. Mitch McConnell is not going to stop. Even if you’ve already spoken up on this issue, make sure you check off all six items on Phyllis’ to-do list to stop TrumpCare.

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Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will testify at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, as the Russian collusion case continues to heat up. Unfortunately, the Trump camp has made a bargain with the committee to hold that hearing in private, so we are not likely to learn what is unveiled there anytime soon. Senator Feinstein sits on the Judiciary Committee, so we’ll be continuing to monitor the case and encouraging her to protect our democracy by ensuring that all wrongdoing is ultimately brought to light.

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Two weeks ago, I asked you to make calls to reform our predatory and unjust bail system here in California. This week, Senator Harris has unveiled a bipartisan bill (co-authored with Senator Rand Paul) that seeks to reform or replace the practice of money bail nationwide. The Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017 creates incentives for states to overhaul or throw out their money bail systems, aiming to ensure that all people, rich or poor, who are accused of a crime receive fair treatment under the law. The bill has been endorsed by the Center for American Progress, the NAACP, the ACLU, and many other organizations working to repair our broken criminal justice system. It’s great to see I’ll be asking you to make some calls about this legislation this week.

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Following a spirited and inspiring general meeting yesterday, our members enjoyed beer and munchables on Phyllis’ sunny back deck. We’re grateful to those of you who came out, shared your passion, and raised a glass with us. Special thanks to Suzanne, who stood up at our meeting to share a very personal story about how she came to dedicate her life to improving people’s health, and how that fuels her activism today. We’re grateful also to our guest speaker Susan from Democracy Action, who provided some great ideas about using technology to motivate voters in other districts, and told a great story about registering new citizens to vote in Oakland (see Actions with other groups for how you can get involved. Thanks also to Patrick, who led our action to Sen. Harris’ office last week.

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This week’s Stand Up SF actions

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/25: part of Litquake, SF’s literary festival: “A Bunch of Bad Hombres: Immigrant Writers Respond to Trump” RSVP
  • Thu 7/27: Join NARAL Pro-Choice America for a webinar on activism for reproductive freedom. Sign up.
  • Thu 8/3: Join Democracy Action to phone bank for Democratic candidates in two key states. Get details and sign up.

Learning opportunity

At our meeting yesterday, Gordon shared information about The People’s Revolution, a coalition of grassroots organizers and activists who have created a progressive platform to ensure racial, climate, and economic justice, democracy, and health care for all. They’re recommending we ask our MoCs to pass eight pieces of legislation aimed at these goals. Stand Up SF leadership will be evaluating the bills, but you can get a head start here. Interested in the People’s Platform? Tell us what you think!

Senators are listening

So the “Take Away My Health Care” bill died. You could almost hear the big collective sigh of relief across America.

No, wait!! It came back to life! EEEEK!!

OK whew! It died again!

Oh Noooo! It’s stirring… it’s… alive!

It’s like that B-rated horror flick where the zombie just won’t die. The latest iteration, “Repeal and Deal With It Later,” rips healthcare away from 32 million people. After 7+ years of attacking the Affordable Care Act, what Republicans need for their better healthcare plan is… more time.

David Leonhardt of the NYTimes has a perspective that has given me hope throughout this ordeal. He explains that once the country commits to a more decent safety net, it becomes an accepted part of society. Poverty, disease and misfortune that had previously been accepted as normal then became rejected as cruel.

In this article today in Vox, The health care resistance is working. Just ask a few Republican senators, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Senate Republicans have privately admitted to him that the resistance’s pressure is making a difference:

At the same time, we must not forget that politicians are willing to take away our health care. We must not let our guard down, as we know what we got last time we said “that can’t happen.”

I want to pass on something else I learned recently that gave me a bit of relief. You may have heard Republicans are using a process called reconciliation for healthcare. They also intend to use the same process for their next project, tax reform. The reconciliation process allows a bill to pass with fewer votes (in this Senate, without Democrat votes). However, it comes with some limitations. Senate rules only allow one reconciliation bill at a time. So, if Republicans want to do tax reform via reconciliation, they have to first either pass or abandon their healthcare reconciliation bill. And if they don’t successfully gut healthcare, they don’t have the new revenue they need to fund their dream list of deep tax cuts.

Stand Up SF actions:

Trump can cancel parts of Obamacare funding. This would be devastating to millions of people who would lose access to affordable health coverage and it would send ACA markets into chaos, risking insurance even for those who don’t require financial assistance. Sign Senator Harris’s petition to keep funding Obamacare.

Trump wants to reverse Obama’s decision to protect the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from risky offshore drilling. Submit a comment to The Department of the Interior and tell them: Our oceans should be protected, not polluted. Keep America’s coastline off limits to drilling.

Actions with other groups:

Move-On is working to train community volunteers to mobilize together quickly in the event of a crisis that threatens our life or liberty. Sign up.

Tue 7/25: How to Help Your Friends When They’re Harassed Online: Bystander Intervention Digital Training by HeartMob. Sign up.

You’re the best.

Things are not looking good for the Trump administration right now. Between the ongoing discoveries of their collusion with Russia to influence the election, the delayed vote on TrumpCare, and Trump’s approval ratings the lowest in history, they are not able to get much done. Today’s biggest news is that TrumpCare is just 1 GOP defection away from defeat.

All of this is because of YOU. You yelled about the need for the Russian investigation. You demanded a “no” vote on TrumpCare and sent in your personal stories in support of the ACA. And you have told your representatives to block this administration’s agenda, to keep Americans safe from Trump’s excesses — and those of his cronies. Across the country, people just like you are making the same demands, and it’s working.

Paul, Phyllis, and Laura, Stand Up SF leaders, hold signs that say 'We Rock!', 'It's working - thank you!' and 'You're the Best!''THANK YOU!

You should know:
Tomorrow, California lawmakers will vote on a bill to extend California’s most important climate law. AB 398 is meant to be an extention of the state’s Cap and Trade legislation, but environmental activists are very divided on whether our representatives should vote yea or nay. We in leadership are not prepared to tell you how to act on this one, but if the issue is important to you, we urge you to do some reading, make your decision, and call Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu with your request.

Meanwhile, there’s still plenty to do to protect our community and our country.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions:

  • Stop mass deportations: SB 54, The California Values Act, prevents state and local funds from being used for deportations. Call Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu and ask them to vote yes on SB 54. You can say “I urge you to support SB 54, the California Values Act, which protects the safety of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations and separate California families.”
  • Get face-to-face with Kamala Harris: Senator Harris has not yet held a town hall in the Bay Area! Call her office and ask that she hold a San Francisco town hall during the August recess. (script)
  • Fix our housing crisis: Senator Weiner’s SB 35, up for a vote this week, streamlines the development of new housing, including affordable housing. Don’t let it get held up by unworkable and unnecessary amendments! Call State Assemblymembers Ting and Chiu and tell them to vote for SB 35. You can say “I’m concerned about the number of homeless and displaced people in my community. Please vote for SB 35 to ensure that cities comply with existing requirements to build more housing, and more affordable housing.”

Actions with other groups

  • Tue 7/18: #KillTheBill! Join local Indivisible groups in the Bay Area for a Die-In at Senator Feinstein’s office to protest TrumpCare. This is part of a nationwide Indivisible campaign that is sure to get news coverage, so please sign up if you can make it!
  • Tue 7/18: Join our friends at Sister District for their CA-12 Mission Hub meeting and help flip Virginia blue! RSVP

Learning opportunity

Wed 7/19: Learn more about how you can protect the free and open Internet. Join FreePress.net and other activists on a strategy call. Sign up.

A Good News Radar is a wonderful thing

We had a lively and productive meeting with folks from Congresswoman Pelosi’s office today. A big thanks to all the Stand Up SF members who made the time to come and participate. Dan Bernal, Pelosi’s Chief of Staff SF, and Alex Lazar, Sr Congressional Aide SF were warm and welcoming as ever. As I contrast this to all the people with GOP Senators who hid from them over the July break, I realize how lucky we are to have members of congress who value our input. And, what an amazing thing… when you listen to your constituents and do your best to do the  right thing for them, it seems there is no need to hide.

On the way out of our meeting, someone mentioned how hard it is to keep up with the sheer volume of news, and how depressing it can be. I hear this often. As many of us at Stand Up SF have learned, one good way to fight the blues is to take action. As one of our members said recently, “It is what keeps me sane.”

Another helpful antidote is to make sure to have your radar up for good news. Here are some items my Good News Radar caught recently.

  • (12 July) A coalition of US states, cities and businesses pledged to meet the Paris Climate Accord emission  reduction targets. They have effectively said, “we’ll do it without Trump.” Called America’s Pledge, the coalition already includes 10 states, 227 cities and counties, and about 1,600 businesses.
  • (8 July) 19 of the 20 world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in July showed their embrace of the Paris Climate Accord and adopted a plan to move forward collectively on climate change without the US. (NYT)
  • (7 July) France announced it is going to ban the sale of any car that uses petrol or diesel fuel by 2040, and become carbon neutral by 2050. The announcement was part of France’s renewed commitment to the Paris climate deal. (BBC)
  • (7 July) Morning Joe enjoyed its highest-rated show ever the day after Trump blasted the hosts with a series of juvenile tweets. The ratings topped Fox & Friends in the same time slot. (Forbes)
  • And speaking of Morning Joe, its co-host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, stated publicly that the GOP no longer represents his values and that he is quitting the party. (It is not good news that the GOP seems to have lost their values. We need two (at least) major parties with integrity. The good news is that people are speaking out that something important is broken.) (Time)
  • (6 July) 18 states and the District of Columbia filed suit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Education dept over Devos’s decision to roll back rules designed to help students who have been defrauded by their colleges. (BuzzFeed)
  • (5 July) The backlash to Trump’s request for sensitive voter information was fast and furious. So many choice quotes to choose from… here are a few:
    • “Delaware will not be a party to this disingenuous and inappropriate campaign against one of the nation’s foundational institutions.” – Delaware Secretary of State
    • “I find this request for the personal information of millions of Marylanders repugnant; it appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.” – MD Attorney General
    • “…the president has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election. Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.” – Kentucky Secretary of State
    • “This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.” – Governor of Virginia
    • “NY refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election. We will not comply with this request.” – NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • (3 July) A federal appeals court ruled that the EPA cannot change the effective date of a rule that restricts methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. The court said the EPA does not have authority to block the rule, and that the agency’s decision was “unreasonable,” “arbitrary” and “capricious.” Since methane is more potent than carbon dioxide, this is good news for our planet.
  • (28 June) At least four leading law firms have refused to represent Trump. “The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen,” said one lawyer. (The Week)
  • (26 June) A women’s NBA basketball team, the Seattle Storm, announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood and held a fundraiser before a game. (The Seattle Times)
  • (26 June) According to a monthly tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 51% of Americans now have favorable views of the Affordable Care Act, the first time it topped 50% in 79 polls over 7 years. It seems one way to educate people on Obamacare is to threaten to take it away. Who knew?
  • (26 June) More than a dozen organizations representing health care providers signed an open letter to Mitch McConnell, published in his hometown paper, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, telling him to “STOP the mad rush to pass this bill” and instead seek advice from health care experts.“You said you have a ‘responsibility to act,’” the letter said. “We believe you have a duty to act responsibly. Kentuckians deserve better.”

Join our next Stand Up SF Monthly Meeting!
Sat July 22, 2-4pm Noe Valley Library (Sign up!)

Stand Up SF actions:

Monday July 17th is the deadline to submit a comment to the FCC about why Net Neutrality is important to  you. This ACLU form is much easier to use than the FCC site, and they do a great job explaining why net neutrality is important

Actions with other groups:

Sat July 15, Civic Center: Join Democracy Action for a phone bank to educate constituents in Nevada about their healthcare, and to support Democratic candidates in state races in Virginia. Sign up.

Sun July 16, Dogpatch: Join Democracy Action for a phone bank to support Democratic candidates in state races in Virginia. Sign up.