This week’s top issues.
Trump’s proposed federal budget was released last week under the misleading name, “A New Foundation For American Greatness”. The biggest themes seem to be major cuts to entitlement programs that would hit hardest many of the economically strained voters who voted Trump into office, major tax cuts for the wealthy, boosts to the military that some say could actually make us less safe, amped border patrol and Trump’s Wall. The budget failed to tackle Social Security or Medicare, two of the largest drivers of national debt, rests on the improbable prediction of 3% economic growth and contains a now-infamous $2 trillion math error.
So what is the greatest impact a budget like this would bring to America and it’s “Greatness”? The total elimination of 66 government programs, for starters, plus slashes to the budgets of agencies charged with human health and environmental protection (EPA and NOAA), medical research (National Institutes of Health), science (National Science Foundation and U.S. Chemistry Board) and disease prevention (CDC). Public education would see major defunding through an overhaul that would grant money instead into private schools and for-profit charters via vouchers and block grants that would be a blow to the middle class. The budget is a major kick to anti-poverty efforts, from affordable housing, Medicaid, and food assistance programs to disability benefits, tax credits, and college loans for the poor.
Trump was out of town during the unveiling of his budget, away on his first overseas trip as president, and many took that as a sign of his unwillingness to stand behind the budget and fight for the policies proposed therein. Many congressional representatives have for weeks been claiming that Trump’s budget is “dead on arrival.” But once Congress has picked over its contents, what pieces will remain?
In the meantime, Congress is on recess this week. Senators are paying close attention this week to what health care policies constituents want to see the Senate drafting and voting for (or against). Senators Hatch and Lee are both members of a 13-man, and 1-woman group of Senators charged with writing the Senate’s new health care bill.
The Department of the Interior’s comment period on Bears Ears has ended, though the review of the Monument itself won’t be completed until June 10. Reports last week indicated that with tens of thousands of comments collected, public opinion was in favor of leaving the Bears Ears National Monument’s boundaries in tact by a margin of 100-to-1. Over two dozen national monuments are under review as part of Trump’s executive order, including Grand Staircase-Escalante. The Antiquities Act itself is under threat after 120 years of land conservation to protect areas of our country of scientific and historical interest. Comments on all other monuments and the Antiquities Act will continue to be accepted through July 10.
On Saturday, 6 of the 7 G7 leaders made a statement reaffirming their “strong commitment” to the Paris climate agreement on climate change, signed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 by overwhelming world-wide commitment. Trump stood apart from other world leaders, refusing to pledge U.S. commitment to the 195-nation Paris accord on climate change. On Twitter Trump promised to make a decision on whether the U.S. would remain in the climate change accord this week upon his return from his trip abroad. Meanwhile, Representative Mia Love is currently the only congressional representative sitting on the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. With air quality the #2 issue for Utah voters and the #1 issue for Wasatch Front voters, perhaps more of our congresspeople should take greater note of Utah’s air quality issues.
What can you do to impact these issues?
Scroll down to find out what Weekly Actions you can take. Plus, visit us on Facebook or Twitter throughout the week for more daily and urgent actions you can take to get your voice heard on Family & Community, Public Health, Environmental Stewardship and Government issues.
Events coming up on our Calendar.
Tuesday, May 31, 6:30p – What’s Up With Interim Session? Facebook Live streamed session with Chase Thomas from the ABU, hosted by Utahns Acting for Change Together.
Saturday, June 3, 1:00-3:00p – March for Truth (Restoring Faith in the American Government). 125 S. State St, Salt Lake. Demonstration calling for an impartial investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election and ties to Donald Trump, his administration and his associates.
Saturday, June 10, 10:00-12:30p – Unite for Healthcare Rally. March at 10a from City Creek Park, 110 N State St, Salt Lake City. Rally at 11a at the Wallace Bennett Federal Building, 125 S State Street. Hosted by the Healthy Utah Coalition.
Defend funding for something you believe in. Trump’s budget may be DOA, but how will our congressional representatives know what budget priorities their constituents truly care about if we don’t tell them? Stand up for funding of a cause near and dear to you and tell your MoCs why that program matters to you, your family and/or for Utah. Here are a few suggestions.
- Affordable Housing – Severe cuts to the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) translate to slashes in for millions of rural and urban Americans alike from programs proven to reduce poverty, reduce crime rates, and improve children’s health and school outcomes. Tell your MoCs to support funding for HUD and USDA. Ask your state legislators to join a webinar TOMORROW at 3p to learn more about the impacts of these proposed cuts. More info here.
- SNAP – Trump’s budget threatens to drastically cut the Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP), several other vital food assistance programs, plus tax credits and critical safety net programs like Medicaid. That means budget attacks on low-income people from every direction that affects the health, food security, learning, productivity and poverty levels of millions of the most vulnerable Americans. More info here.
- Public Education – Trump’s education program relies heavily on the vouchers, which have been touted by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos but are proven nationally to significantly harm education outcomes. What’s more, cuts to education programs in Trump’s budget extend beyond the classroom to impact loan forgiveness, technical education, child care and social services, particularly in rural areas. More info here.
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. Jason Chaffetz (Congressional District 3): (202) 225-7751 (DC) // (801) 851-2500 (UT)
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.
Let Senators know you want quality, affordable health care for all. Senators are using this week’s recess to gauge how their constituents feel about health care. Now is the time to call Senator Hatch and Senator Lee and tell them what healthcare you want them to fight for on your behalf. Hatch and Lee are both members of a commission of Senators charged with writing the Senate’s new healthcare bill.
- Let our Senators know what matters to you on healthcare, such as:
- No gender discrimination
- No lifetime caps
- Coverage for all pre-existing conditions
- Costs of less than $__ per month per person
- Comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid
- Pressure on health insurance companies to decrease costs
- Pressure on pharmaceuticals to decrease prices
- Share a story about why any one of these is important to you personally.
Protect National Monuments. The Department of the Interior’ will complete it’s review of Bears Ears National Monument’s on June 10th. In the meantime, comments on all other monuments and the Antiquities Act will continue to be accepted through July 10th.
- Submit a comment on national monuments and the Antiquities Act via Monuments for All by July 10th.
- Keep the facts straight about Bears Ears and Grand Staircase by sharing data and news about these monuments on social media. Be sure to Tweet pertinent articles to @SecretaryZinke to remind him how a majority of Utah feels about our national monuments. Here are some good articles to share far and wide:
- Washington Post: “Interior Secretary’s personal schedule shows industry chiefs have frequent access” While Secretary Zinke spared an hour of his time to meet with the Tribes in Utah after months of requests went unanswered, but he has found the time to meet with dozens of fossil fuel companies in the meantime.
- OR: “A Veteran’s Plea: Fight for the Public Lands We Fought For” – Veterans find healing of mind, body and soul in our nation’s wilderness, and consider our public lands the best expression of the lands veterans fought for.
Defend the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Climate change impacts can be felt in every nation in the world and every state in our nation. In Utah, the impacts include consistently higher temperatures and decreased snowfall, which not only threatens the tourism industry our state’s economy relies on but also threatens the water supplies Utahns rely on. Scientists, however, say that climate change can be halted. Studies show that combatting climate change presents a great economic opportunity for job growth, technological innovation, and decreased expenses from costly health and environmental impacts. Climate aside, pulling out of the G7 Paris agreement has damaging implications on our nation’s credibility and relationships with other countries.
- Leave a comment with the White House asking Trump to uphold the U.S.’ commitment to the Paris agreement by clicking here.
- Call on our MoC’s to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and to make a statement of support for the Paris agreement by contacting our two U.S. Senators and your one U.S. representative.
- Sign petitions. Sign this Climate Parents petition to your Congressman to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Note: Rep. Mia Love is already a member. Sign this two-part Avaaz petition to all G7 leaders to pursue the Paris climate agreement regardless of what the U.S. does.
Fit civic engagement into your summer routine
The sun is out, the school year is ending, and vacations are coming up. Take advantage of the chance to loosen up and relax. But don’t lose sight of the impact you can have by lifting up your voice. Civic engagement doesn’t have to be hard or take much of your time. Pick just one or two quick actions each week as part of your normal routine so you can have a voice in the policymaking that impacts your life and your community. Action Utah will keep bringing you the tools and information you need to make taking action easy all summer long. Share this email to spread the word about Action Utah. New to Action Utah? Click here to join us!
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah