Progressives Strike Back

Partisan politics is putting one of the best chances to stabilize the health insurance markets at risk. The bipartisan effort, led by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, would guarantee that the critical cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments would continue. Some congressional Republicans, however, are continuing their attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, ending CSRs would raise premiums, increase the federal deficit, and cause more people to lose coverage.

After the endless attacks on the ACA, progressives have decided to take a more active approach towards policy solutions for health care in the U.S. Today, Senator Bernie Sanders revealed his Medicare for All Act of 2017, which is now backed by at least 15 Democrats, including Senators Booker, Harris, Warren, and Gillibrand. Senator Chris Murphy is expected to release a similar bill this fall that will take different steps towards “Medicare for all.” Senator Brian Schatz has also revealed that he’s preparing a bill that would “grant more Americans the opportunity to enroll in Medicaid by giving states the option to offer a “buy-in” to the government program on Obamacare’s exchanges.”

These new proposals reflect a concerted effort by progressives to find a way to achieve the ultimate goal of universal health care—and a way to contrast progressive ideas with those of the right. The Graham-Cassidy bill is just the latest in a stream of bills aimed at slashing the ACA. It is one of the most damaging of all the “Trumpcare” bills, as it would “cut hundreds of billions from coverage programs [and] cause millions to lose health insurance.” Rather than getting us closer to universal health coverage, the Graham-Cassidy proposal would take us farther away that goal. Check out the graphic below for more reasons why Graham-Cassidy is bad for Americans.

The bottom line? The urgent need is to protect the ACA as it stands and ensure that Trump doesn’t carry out his sabotage of the health insurance marketplace by withholding funding. With the administration cutting allocations for promoting the upcoming open season for health care enrollment, it’s crucial that we lift up ways for people to get insured. But, when thinking about the future, these progressive ideas are just what we need to start thinking about ways to reach universal health care.

ACTION OF THE DAY

#HereToStay. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are ready to vote on a clean Dream Act, and many GOP members of Congress have expressed their support for Dreamers. Now it’s time for them to back up words with action. Urge lawmakers to support bringing the Dream Act up for a vote immediately, without any compromises like funding for a border wall. Use our new toolkit to call key members of Congress and tell them to defend Dreamers. And then, listen to the latest Thinking CAP podcast to hear the story behind the Dream Act.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Census. Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance in 2016. The report showed continued improvements across all three areas—thanks to smart policy choices in 2016 and earlier—but the data also highlights the fragility of these gains and the progress left to be made. This is especially true given the current administration’s attempts to undermine critical programs for low- and middle-income families like Social Security, Medicaid, and food assistance—in order to deliver tax cuts for the wealthiest in our country. The Center for American Progress found that “if just three of Trump’s draconian budget cuts had been in place in 2015, 2.3 million more Americans would have been poor.” While the Census data offers hope for a brighter future, it also is a reminder that these gains do not come without effort. You can get help stop the Trump-Ryan budgets and share your story at HandsOff.org.

American Hero. Edith Windsor, the lead plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, passed away yesterday at the age of 88. Her fight to ensure marriage equality was the law of the land forever changed the lives of millions of people, and will always be remembered as a true American hero. Former President Obama said in a statement yesterday, “America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right. Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor — and few made as big a difference to America.”

Hurricanes…and Taxes? In the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, President Trump has urged Congress to speed up the tax reform process. But he did not specify how his plan to cut taxes was related to the recent natural disasters. Presumably, he believes that lower taxes will lead to greater economic growth, which would help with the recovery in the long-term. That would theoretically be advantageous if his tax plan actually benefited those who were impacted most by these disasters: low-income communities. Instead, the largest tax cuts under his plan would go to millionaires, billionaires, and corporations – including himself and his company. There’s no evidence that trickle-down tax cuts benefit working Americans, and huge tax cuts for the wealthy could threaten funding for priorities that communities need, such as Medicare and Medicaid. It’s obvious that he is trying to capitalize on the slight bipartisanship displayed when he struck a deal with Congressional Democrats to provide disaster relief and raise the debt ceiling, but we’re watching, and we won’t be fooled. Trump’s tax plan would be an extra disaster for those already impacted most.

Give Us Your Huddled Masses. The Trump administration is likely to soon announce a reduction in the number of refugees permitted to resettle in the U.S. for the upcoming year. The new cap will set the limit at 50,000 or fewer refugees, the lowest number in modern history. By comparison, the Obama administration set the cap for 2016 at 110,000 refugees. This drastic reduction should come as no surprise – Trump once complained to the Prime Minister of Australia that the United States is seen by the rest of the world as a “dumping ground” when it takes in refugees. Trump’s active distaste for the most vulnerable among us trivializes the plight of the more than 65 million displaced persons worldwide and puts their lives further at risk. He should learn his history and remember the disastrous results of the U.S. turning its back on those who are fleeing for their lives, like when we tragically turned our backs on a ship full of Jewish refugees in 1939. To learn more about the process of entry into the U.S. for refugees, check out this graphic. Then, reach out to members of Congress today!

UNDER THE RADAR

Securing Our Votes. During the 2016 election cycle, Russian operatives attempted (sometimes successfully) to hack into state and local election systems. Unfortunately, our election systems are not capable of protecting against such attacks, which leaves our democracy open to foreign interference. This problem is not intractable, however. The Graham-Klobuchar amendment, introduced as part of the defense reauthorization bill, would take important steps toward reinforcing our election systems and ensuring that foreign entities cannot tamper in future elections.