Victory for health care!
Early Friday morning, Senator John McCain cast the last and deciding vote against the ACA ”Skinny Repeal”, closing the window on the GOP’s repeal and replace push, at least for now. The victory was not for the Democratic party or against the Republican party, but for the millions upon millions of people who would be (in some cases gravely) hurt by any of the repeal proposals. And also for bipartisanship.
McCain spoke eloquently on Tuesday about the need for the parties to come together, not just on healthcare, but in general in order to remove a tendency for politicians to want to win only for the sake of winning and not to serve the best interests of the American people. In case you missed it last week, check out this terrific article applauding McCain’s speech by Action Utah Issue Captain, Carrie Butler. McCain backed up his words with the significant action of going against his party and strong pressure by the White House and casting his vote against repeal on Friday morning. Thanks to the courage of Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain, Trumpcare is dead, at least for now, and the door is opened to a bipartisan solution for health care.
At Action Utah, we believe bipartisanship is an important path to finding policy solutions that better fulfill the beliefs and needs of the American people and of Utahns. 71% of Americans agree with us in preferring a bipartisan solution to fixing the ACA over repealing or replacing Obamacare.
So what’s next?
On health care – It’s time not only for Republicans but for Democrats to step up to the plate and embrace bipartisanship by offering great solutions to fix the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, the GOP hasn’t entirely given up on ACA repeal. Trump tweeted after the failure of Trumpcare in the Senate, that he would rather make Obamacare implode before seeing a bipartisan deal. In case you missed it yesterday, check out this eloquent op-ed by Holly Richardson, former Utah legislator and Action Utah Issues Captain, in response to the disgust and aversion being shown by some leaders about the idea of collaborating with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Unfortunately, the fight for good health care is not over. Specific actions by Trump’s administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and chaos on Capitol Hill have directly led to a flood of rate hikes in 2018 and sudden reduction of sign ups. For example, an executive order by Trump in January removed budget funding for advertising for the insurance marketplace. Before that, the ACA was on track for getting a record of new sign-ups. Afterwards, signups fell off a cliff.
As Congress turns its attention to tax reform, attacks on health care are already being proposed within budgetary bills. The House Appropriations Committee bill, for example, includes a provision to make the IRS unable to collect information on whether or not you have health insurance, and therefore unable to assess the penalty fee for not having health care under the ACA’s individual mandates. This will cause fewer healthy people to have insurance, which jacks up the prices of insurance for everyone (which is precisely what the individual mandates are meant to prevent).
Tax reform – A big driver for the extreme cost cuts in the failed ACA repeal bills is the upcoming tax reform debates, in which Republicans would like to enact major tax cuts. That’s the same reason that dramatic cuts have been proposed across the House Appropriations Committee’s budget bill. Here are a few things you should know about the House’s 2018 Budget Plan
- The House’s budget plan is actually a non-binding resolution, but it lays out a spending plan which would allow the Senate to pass followup bills without a Democratic filibuster. In addition, using reconciliation rules, they can avoid the usual requirement of a 60 vote majority and pass pieces of the budget with a simple majority, making even egregious proposals more likely to pass than in recent years.
- The instructions in the budget go well beyond tax policy and curtail financial industry regulations, key IRS oversight, federal employee benefits, welfare spending and more.
- Like Trump’s budget, the House plan envisions major cuts to federal spending over the coming decade to balance the budget, but relies on accelerated economic growth to boost revenue at a rate far above the CBO’s estimated economic growth projections.
- The plan proposes major increases to the military budget — above existing caps and spending limits.
- The plan proposes unprecedented cuts to mandatory and safety net programs that even many Republicans are unhappy with. Conservatives want to see bigger cuts, while moderates are squeamish about cutting vital programs like food stamps.
PBS Newshour: “House GOP budget plan calls for major cuts to benefits, paving way for tax overhaul bill”
Washington Post: “House GOP unveils budget plan that attaches major spending cuts to coming tax overhaul bill”
Action Utah leaders and members attend Interim Sessions at the Capitol every month to sit in on public committee meetings, hear about the issues our legislators are studying, see how our legislative branch works and learn how to impact it. We invite you to join us for any part of the day, or to go on your own.
We will offer a brief tour of the Capitol at 11:30. Contact us if you would like to attend.
Committee meetings are held in meeting rooms around the Capitol during the morning and afternoon. See the Calendar on the State Legislative Website for more details on each committee and meeting agenda.
8:30-11:15 Committee Meetings:
- Business and Labor
- Government Operations
- Health and Human Services
- Political Subdivisions
- Public Utilities, Energy and Technology
- Economic Development and Workforce Services
- Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
- Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment
- Revenue and Taxation
1. Get ready to vote in primary elections across Utah. PRIMARY ELECTIONS ARE ON AUGUST 15TH! Mail-in ballots are already out in counties that issue them. Primary elections traditionally have low voter turnout. That means your vote holds a lot of power. Be sure to use it!
- Not registered to vote? There’s still time! Register online here or in person by Aug 8th.
- Don’t wait to vote. Send in your mail-in ballot TODAY. Deadline to mail in your ballot is Aug 8th.
- Are you a Republican voter in Congressional District 3? You have a unique opportunity to vote on candidates YOU chose through petition, along with one candidate chosen for you by delegates. Whichever GOP candidate wins the primary will move on to the general election Nov 7th. Your vote in the primary is critical.
- Check out our nonpartisan VOTER GUIDE to help you find the information you need in order to vote in the August 15th primary.
2. Speak up about Campaign Finance reform. How do you feel about money in politics? Activists around Utah want to know what changes you’d like to see in campaign finance.
- Take this online survey about what changes you’d like to see in your communities. Residents of Provo, Taylorsville, Park City and Ogden may take city-specific surveys.
3. Ask Governor Herbert to step up water conservation goals in Utah that save us $$$. Utah is one of the driest states in the nation, and yet we have the highest municipal water use per capita. We are also one of the fastest growing states in the country, so we need to plan for more water demand in the future without costing taxpayers exorbitant amounts. Our high water usage costs billions of taxpayer dollars.
- Sign this petition calling on Governor Herbert to commit to water conservation reduction of 40% by the year 2030 to save billions of taxpayer dollars and follow smart water planning for our growing state and the health of Utahns. You can find this petition and many others on our Petitions, Petitions! page, which we update daily.
1. Say thanks. Amidst all of last week’s political chaos, a few people’s actions stood out that should be acknowledged.
- Say thanks to Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John McCain (R-AZ) for going against their party and defeating the bad ACA repeal effort in the Senate by sending them a thank you note or by signing this online thank you card to these three and all Senate Democrats.
Senator Collins: 68 Sewall Street, Room 507, Augusta, ME 04330
Senator Murkowski: 510 L Street, Suite 600, Anchorage, AK 99501
Senator McCain: 2201 East Camelback Road, Suite 115, Phoenix, AZ 85016
- Say thanks to Senator Orrin Hatch for defending transgender Americans and opposing discrimination in the military from Trump’s proposed transgender ban by sending him an email or snailmail thank you note.
Senator Hatch: 104 Hart Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
- Say thanks to Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for introducing the bipartisan, bridge-building DREAM Act of 2017.
Senator Graham: 290 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Senator Durbin: 711 Hart Senate Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Flake: Senate Russell Office Building 413, Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Schumer: Senate Russell Office Building 413, Washington, D.C. 20510
2. Stand up for the programs you care about in the federal budget. As Congress works toward tax reform and a 10-year budget plan, major cuts are being considered and some new expenses are being added. Advocate for what you want to see your tax money going towards by contacting your members of Congress.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Check here.
Here are some ideas:
- Oppose cuts to safety net programs. Food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid are among the top losers in the House’s budget plan.
- Support affordable housing. The House’s budget plans to cut $7.4 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), putting hundreds of thousands of families at risk of homelessness and increased poverty. Budget cuts significantly cut funding for critical affordable housing resources that provide lifelines for extremely low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable populations. The current shortage in affordable housing across the country is already categorized as a “crisis.”
- Stand up for renewable energy funding. The House’s budget bill proposes cutting energy efficiency and renewables spending in half, despite the fact that solar jobs last year grew 17 times faster than the total U.S. jobs market, while wind power has become cheaper than other energy in some states and other countries like China are significantly ramping up investments in renewables to become strong competitors in the energy market of the future.
- Push for public media broadcasting. Although the House bill includes funding for the Corporations for Public Broadcasting, it fails to fund the interconnectivity that allows broadcasting of public media to the public. Email Congress using this link to ask them to support full funding for public media broadcasting.
- Oppose the weakening of the IRS’s authority to collect data and assess penalties on ACA individual mandates, which sabotages the individual mandates program, causing fewer health people to sign up for insurance and spiking health care premiums for everyone.
- Oppose the repeal of the IRS’s ability to regulate conservation easements. Theoretically conservations are a win-win — except when land values and potential development values are ballooned on tax returns to the advantage of investors. For this reason, greater IRS scrutiny was put in place over conservation easements last December, much to the chagrin of one of this tax break’s biggest fans: Donald J. Trump, who has nearly $64 million in conservation easements to his name. Now Congress has made moves to tell the IRS to keep their hands off the President’s favorite charitable tax dodge. How? By defunding the IRS by $149 million to start (audits are much harder with no one to perform them) and by removing the IRS’ jurisdiction over conservation easements altogether.
- Protect nonpartisan organizations from being politicized. Trump vowed in February to kill the Republican Johnson Amendment, a 63-year old Republican bill with longstanding bipartisan support that requires 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations NOT to be politicized by interfering or participating in political campaigns for candidates. A small number of far right organizations are pushing to repeal or weaken the amendment, as are bills in both the House and the Senate. The House spending bill weakens the Johnson Amendment through a rider (Section 116) that makes it virtually impossible for the IRS to enforce the Johnson Amendment and allows tax deductible dark money to funnel through our houses of worship and nonprofits into politics. To find out more about this issue, please click here.
You rocked on health care!
Take a moment and congratulate yourselves for all the calls you made to block bad health care policy. You deserve it!
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah