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Senior Campaign Strategist
Director, Movement Vision Lab
tel 718 768 476
Today, I sat in a room while a dozen or so everyday Americans prepared to share the stage with top leaders from the Obama transition team and the new Congress. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will be shoulder to shoulder with April Page, a single mom working two jobs in Western Massachusetts. Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Barack Obama, will sit next to Ghazala Chughtai, a Pakistani immigrant from Maryland. April, Ghazala and others were preparing for Realizing the Promise, a forum this Thursday, December 4 in Washington, DC, where over 2,000 grassroots leaders from across the country will present the people's agenda for change.
Imagine if change wasn't about replacing a set of conservative elites with a set of liberal elites but actually delivering more power to the people! As a community organizer, it's in Obama's DNA to resist the urges of the Washington status quo to replicate itself with a blue-ish tint and instead implement the habits and structures of real democracy. Yes, this election is about change in the sense of policy --- re-regulating Wall Street, ensuring health care for all, fixing our trade policies wreaking havoc on both sides of the border.
But in this election, change was also about process, too --- it's no accident we elected a community organizer who won in large part by building a movement of voters who finally felt they could have a voice in politics. Don't be surprised when the new chorus fails to die down; once people get a taste of power they're expectations only tend to rise. On Election Day, Americans were merely clearing their throat. Now it's time to tell Washington what we want.
I recently appeared on GritTV hosted by Laura Flanders, along with Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, a grassroots leader with the Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, and Chris Hayes, Washington Editor with the Nation, to discuss the role of organizing in delivering change. We talked about Realizing the Promise, the first time following the election when the people will be coming to Washington to tell government about the big changes we demand. Check it out:
Valerie Jarrett, Melody Barnes, named director of the Domestic Policy Council, Rep. Chris Van Hollen and other members of Congress and key progressive leaders in Washington will share the stage with people just like you --- single moms who can't make ends meet, immigrants whose homes and offices have been raided, small business owners who can't afford healthcare. As the economy gets worse and worse, the funny thing you realize about a sinking ship is that we're all in it together. It's time to work together to find shared solutions to the shared problems we all face --- and tell Washington we won't take "no" or even "sort of" for an answer.
Watch the live webcast of Realizing the Promise: A Forum on Community, Faith and Democracy this Thursday, December 4 at 3:00pm EST live from Washington. And join the discussion --- we need your voice to help make the promise of change a reality.
You and millions of others turned out on Election Day to vote for change. Now we need your help to realize the promise. Watch, join and act!
The mission of the Center for Community Change is to develop the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better.
"Instead of holding Big Oil executives accountable for price gouging consumers at the pump, the committee will be dominated by the interests of extractive industries," said one government transparency advocate.
A leading government accountability watchdog on Tuesday called out leaders of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives while revealing that the 21 GOP members appointed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to the Natural Resources Committee took a combined $3.8 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil.
Oil and gas industry contributions to the 21 right-wing lawmakers range from more than $850,000 for Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana—the nation's third-biggest fossil gas producer and a top-10 oil-producing state—to $18,800 for Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia, according to Accountable.US.
"The new MAGA-controlled House Natural Resources Committee aligns much closer with violent anti-public land extremists like the Bundys than they do with most Americans," the group said in a statement, referring to former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" 2016 campaign slogan and the Nevada family that perpetrated an armed confrontation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over unpaid cattle grazing fees.
Of the Republicans on the committee, five outright oppose federal public lands, most have demonstrated support for election denial, and all have supported policies to expand industry-friendly federal leasing to Big Oil and other extractive sectors. While nearly all of the members have received donations from oil and gas companies, several have personal financial conflicts of interest in the form of either spousal employment or stock holdings.
"Big Oil's investment is already paying off," said Jordan Schreiber, director of energy and environment at Accountable.US. "McCarthy and his MAGA allies wasted no time delivering results for their wealthy industry donors, placing nine of the most extreme anti-conservation members on the House Natural Resources Committee."
"Instead of holding Big Oil executives accountable for price gouging consumers at the pump, the committee will be dominated by the interests of extractive industries, enabling them to push bills that stymie cost controls, and clear the way for multibillion dollar corporations to exploit the American people's land for private gain," Schreiber added.
In addition to highlighting the money that the lawmakers have taken from the fossil fuel industry, the new report notes relevant actions and remarks, from Graves describing President Joe Biden’s climate plan as "ushering in a Soviet-style state" to Rep. Harriet Hageman of Wyoming comparing conservation efforts to dictators starving and killing people, claiming that "it's about controlling people through controlling the food supply."
"Sinema has always been and will always be all about Sinema," said the head of one political advoacy group. "She doesn't care who her policies hurt. She doesn't care that she stood in the way of voting rights and abortion rights, as long as she got the headlines she wanted."
Independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia took heat Tuesday for high-fiving over their shared support of the filibuster while "rubbing elbows with Wall Street CEOs and celebrities in the lap of luxury" at the World Economic Forum's annual summit in Davos, Switzerland.
Sinema—who left the Democratic Party last month—and Manchin sat on a panel with Democrats including Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rep. Mike Sherill (D-N.J.), and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a multibillionaire. Also on the panel were Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Mária Salazar (R-Fla.).
At one point during the panel discussion, Manchin asked Sinema, "We still don't agree on getting rid of the filibuster, correct?"
"That's correct," the former far-left anti-war activist replied. The two senators then proceeded to high-five.
\u201cAt the World Economic Forum in Davos, surrounded by the super rich, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin agree that they won\u2019t end the filibuster. Then they high-five.\n\nBoth have used their position to hurt working people, and the planet, and make their rich friends richer.\u201d— More Perfect Union (@More Perfect Union) 1673981616
"Sinema has always been and will always be all about Sinema. She doesn't care who her policies hurt. She doesn't care that she stood in the way of voting rights and abortion rights, as long as she got the headlines she wanted," Sacha Haworth, spokesperson for the Replace Sinema campaign, said in a statement. "Now, she's on stage in Switzerland, in front of an audience of billionaires and Wall Street CEOs, bragging about her obstruction and giving high-fives. It's no wonder she's so unpopular among Arizonans of every political stripe."
The Replace Sinema campaign is a Change for Arizona 2024 PAC project focused on "defeating her in a potential three-way general election and replacing her with a real Democrat."
Defending her support for the archaic Senate rule historically used to uphold white supremacy and, more recently, to stymie key Biden administration agenda items, Sinema said that "we had free and fair elections all across the country, so one could posit that the push by one political party to eliminate an important guardrail and an institution in our country may have been premature or overreaching in order to get the short-term victories they wanted."
Replace Sinema noted that the senator is "schmoozing with CEOs, securing more dark money, [and] ignoring her constituents" while "rubbing elbows with major players who ran well-funded campaigns to defeat any tax increases for billionaire corporations and Wall Street." These include members of the Business Roundtable, "including JPMorgan Chase's CEO, the head of Blackrock, the CEO of Hewlett Packard, and an executive at Bain & Company."
"Where's Kyrsten Sinema today? Is she doing her job in Arizona or in Washington?" Replace Sinema asked in a statement. "Nope. She's in Switzerland, of course. At the famous Davos World Economic Forum, where billionaires and Wall Street execs can sidle up to global leaders and hang out with celebrities in the elitist, most rarefied of settings. As far away from her constituents as possible, and in the lap of luxury. Just as Sinema likes it."
"And of course," the group added, "Sinema will get to spend time with her Wall Street allies who have lobbied for many of the same special tax breaks and loopholes for corporations and billionaires that Sinema has championed."
"After health insurance companies raised prices 24% last year and made nearly $12 billion in profits last quarter, 38% of Americans now report they or a family member put off needed medical care because it was too expensive," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "We must end this corporate greed."
Nearly 40% of people in the United States said they or a family member delayed medical care last year due to the prohibitively high cost of treatment under the nation's for-profit healthcare model, according to a Gallup survey published Tuesday.
As U.S. residents faced soaring prices for private insurance, the percentage of them forgoing medical services as a result of the costs climbed 12 points in one year, from 26% in 2021 to 38% in 2022. Of those who reported postponing treatment last year, 27% said they or a family member did so "for a very or somewhat serious condition," up nine points from the previous year.
"After health insurance companies raised prices 24% last year and made nearly $12 billion in profits last quarter, 38% of Americans now report they or a family member put off needed medical care because it was too expensive," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted in response to the new findings. "We must end this corporate greed. We need Medicare for All."
Gallup has been collecting self-reported data on this issue since 2001. The firm's latest annual healthcare poll, conducted from November 9 to December 2, found the highest level of cost-related delays in seeking medical care on record, topping the previous high of 33% (2019 and 2014) by five points and marking the sharpest annual increase to date. The proportion of people who said they or a family member postponed treatment for a serious condition in 2022 (27%) also surpassed the previous all-time high of 25% (2019).
\u201cThe number was up 12 points from 2021.\n\n27% said the delayed medical treatment "was for a very or somewhat serious condition."\n\nhttps://t.co/tlcR97pdbe\u201d— More Perfect Union (@More Perfect Union) 1673977118
Lower-income households, young adults, and women in the U.S. are especially likely to have postponed medical care due to high costs.
According to Gallup:
In 2022, Americans with an annual household income under $40,000 were nearly twice as likely as those with an income of $100,000 or more to say someone in their family delayed medical care for a serious condition (34% vs. 18%, respectively). Those with an income between $40,000 and less than $100,000 were similar to those in the lowest income group when it comes to postponing care, with 29% doing so.
Reports of putting off care for a serious condition are up 12 points among lower-income U.S. adults, up 11 points among those in the middle-income group, and up seven points among those with a higher income. The latest readings for the middle- and upper-income groups are the highest on record or tied with the highest.
Another recent survey found that just 12% of Americans think healthcare in the U.S. is handled "extremely" or "very" well. Such data provides further evidence of the unpopularity of a profit-maximizing system that has left 43 million people inadequately insured, kicked millions off of their employer-based plans when the coronavirus caused a spike in unemployment, and contributed to the country's startling decline in life expectancy.
Last week, prior to the publication of Gallup's poll, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote on social media: "If you don’t believe corporate greed has deadly consequences, take a look at the decline in American life expectancy. We need Medicare for All, and we must raise the minimum wage."
\u201cIf you don\u2019t believe corporate greed has deadly consequences, take a look at the decline in American life expectancy. We need #MedicareForAll, and we must raise the minimum wage.\u201d— Ro Khanna (@Ro Khanna) 1673449140
While the current, profit-driven U.S. healthcare system—which forces millions to skip treatments to avoid financial ruin and allows the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to rake in massive profits—is deeply inefficient and unpopular, polling has consistently shown that voters want the federal government to play a more active role in healthcare provision, with a majority expressing support for a publicly run insurance plan.
Recent research shows that a single-payer system of the kind proposed in Medicare for All legislation introduced by Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) could have prevented hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. over the past two and a half years.
Not only would a single-payer insurance program guarantee coverage for every person in the country, but it would also reduce overall healthcare spending nationwide by an estimated $650 billion per year.
"Millions of Americans across this country are avoiding seeking lifesaving medical care because they're afraid it will bankrupt them," Khanna, a universal healthcare advocate, tweeted last week. "In many cases, their fears are well-founded. We need Medicare for All."