fresh voices from the front lines of change







With Congress in recess, members of Congress are holding town hall meetings all across the country. That makes now a good opportunity to tell your congressman or senator what is on your mind about jobs, the economy, health care, taxes—and most importantly, the recently-passed House Republican budget, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. It’s a plan that Republicans say will reduce the national debt but, in reality, blows it sky high.

The House Republican budget changes the way Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries receive much-needed medical assistance. Under the Republican/Ryan plan, Medicare beneficiaries would be given vouchers and forced to find health care on their own, making them subject to private health insurance companies and elevated coverage costs. Medicaid would be transformed into a block grant program that would intentionally force states to skimp on care for low-income people.

Why is this an issue? Under the Republican/Ryan plan, the health care spending of a typical 65-year-old would double the first year the voucher system and block grants take effect – 2022. Benefits and access to care will be severely reduced under the Republican/Ryan plan, while more tax dollars would go into insurance company marketing costs, administrative overhead and executive bonuses. Paying more for inadequate services while lining the pockets of insurance executives does not sound like what Medicare was designed to do.

Republican leaders often say the American people want Congress to cut spending, but these same leaders aren’t hearing Americans saying in poll after poll that they do not want entitlement cuts on the table. The ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday shows 65 percent of Americans strongly oppose cutting Medicare and 52 percent strongly oppose cuts in Medicaid. Another survey produced by Democracy Corps and Campaign for America’s Future shows:

  • Less than half of the public supports the House Republican budget — described simply as a “budget for the next 10 years that they say will cut 6.2 trillion dollars from the federal budget.”
  • When the budget is described using Ryan’s own language, support drops to 36 percent, while 56 percent oppose it, 42 percent strongly. Among seniors, support drops to just 32 percent, with 57 percent opposed. Independent support drops to 43 percent.
  • Cuts to Medicare raise concerns for nearly two-thirds of respondents; raising serious doubts for 66 percent, and very serious doubts for 40 percent.

It is important to attend a town hall meeting in your district to educate your member on what Americans really want.

The Republican/Ryan plan reduces the national deficit only by $155 billion over the next decade. At a time when the national debt is at $14.3 trillion, the Republican/Ryan plan does little more than throw a tablespoon of water on a roaring campfire. Their plan, much to the chagrin of freshman members in their own party who campaigned on a pledge to reduce the deficit, would actually increase the deficit over the next decade and shift the burden to working families and senior citizens. Your elected officials need to hear how you feel about this.

The Republican/Ryan plan also gives over $4 trillion in new tax breaks to millionaires and corporations. You often hear from Republicans about how it’s not fair the top 1 percent pays 40 percent of the taxes. But how much do the top 1 percent earn? In this country, those in the top 1 percent take in a quarter of all income garnered and make, on average, $345 million per year. Per year. Americans, by and large, support raising taxes on these mega-millionaires and individuals making $250,000 per year or more, as opposed to cutting essential services that benefit hard working Americans, seniors and those in need.

Some corporations receive hefty breaks in their corporate taxes, and even some corporations pay nothing in corporate taxes. Now some claim these tax breaks are essential to creating jobs. Why is it then that the top U.S. corporations outsourced 2.4 million jobs over the last decade? The jobs being created and that will continue under the Republican/Ryan plan, do not benefit those Americans looking for work. It only benefits the CEO’s, seeking to increase their wealth. Let your congressperson and senators know that providing tax cuts for wealthy Americans and breaks for corporations is poor business and harmful to the ever-shrinking middle class.

At a recent town hall meeting, chairman Ryan heard, first hand, how his constituents feel about the proposed demolition of Medicare and Medicaid, and tax breaks for the wealthy. They know middle class America is disappearing, and that the proposed Republican/Ryan plan would further be a detriment to working America and senior citizens. Congressman Ryan and like-minded Republicans must be held accountable for their actions. Make sure you ask tough questions like Ryan’s constituent did to ensure your congressperson is working for you.

The House of Representatives is often referred to as “the people’s house.” One of our nation’s finest documents begins with the words “We the people.” What our elected officials need now, more than ever, is to hear from the people they represent.

Below are a few town hall meetings scheduled for next week. If you live in their district, show up. Let your voice be heard, but do it respectfully. Now is not the time to engage how some did during the health care debate. Now is the time to stand up and say that, while we face difficult financial challenges, destroying essential programs and tax cuts for the wealthy are not the correct ways to address them.

President Thomas Jefferson once said, "We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” While Jefferson lived in a different time, his message today rings loud and clear. We saw this in real life in November with the election of extreme, no compromise Tea Party candidates, and the apathy of once-enthusiastic Obama supporters. Participate. Find out when your member of Congress is holding a town hall meeting or listening session, and go. Be part of the process. Make sure when these Republicans talk about what Americans want, they know what you want.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rep. Dan Lungren – CA-03 (Chairman of the House Administration Committee)
7:00 p.m – 8:30 p.m.
Citrus Heights Community Center
6300 Fountain Square Drive
Citrus Heights, Cal.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rep. Blake Farenthold – TX-27 (Freshman member)
7:30 p.m.
The Butter Churn
228 West Wheeler
Aransas Pass, Tex.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rep. Paul Ryan – WI-01 (Chairman of the House Budget Committee)
3 p.m. (arrive by 2:45 p.m.)
Civil War Museum, Freedom Hall
5400 1st Avenue
Kenosha, Wis.

Rep. Allen West – FL-22 (Tea Party endorsed freshman member)
7 p.m. (arrive by 6:45 p.m.)
Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale
2401 West Cypress Creek Road
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Rep. Alan Nunnelee – MS-01 (Freshman member)
6 p.m.-7 p.m.
Lee County Justice Center
Circuit Courtroom
200 West Jefferson Street
Tupelo, Miss.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rep. John Klein – MN-02 (Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Development Committee)
9:30 a.m.
The Red Wing Public Library
225 East Avenue (Please use the Third Street entrance)
Red Wing, Minn.

Rep. Tom Cole – OK-04 (Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs)
McSwain Theatre
132 West Main Street
Ada, Okla.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rep. Diane Black – TN-06 (Freshman member of the House Budget Committee)
5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Putnam County Courthouse (3rd Floor)
300 East Spring Street
Cookeville, TN

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rep. Denny Rehberg – MT-AL (Member of the House Appropriations Committee and candidate for U.S. Senate)
11 a.m.
FVCC Lincoln County Campus
Room 127
225 Commerce Way,
Libby, Mont.

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