fresh voices from the front lines of change








Joy Blackwood

Let The Cherry Blossoms Bloom

It’s March in Washington, D.C., which means the cherry blossoms will bloom any day now. Our nation’s capital would be teeming with visitors and excitement under normal circumstances. The mood here, however, is subdued. In between our government’s bungled response to the coronavirus outbreak and the upcoming 2020 elections, most folks in D.C. have other things on their mind. But I, for one, am hopeful - not only because I love to see the colors of Spring rush in, but because as the representative of People’s Action in Washington, I get to see signs of hope behind the scenes. At People’s Action, we’re working hard to bring a big change to D.C. in November, and we’re laying the groundwork for a government that can be by, and for, the people. "The door to housing justice for seniors, and for Black and brown people, needs to really be open. Not halfway open, but all the way open - so we can get in, and stay in." That’s Marsha Cole from the Jane Addams Senior Caucus in Chicago, who came to D.C. in January with grassroots leaders from across the country to present the People’s Housing Platform, an unprecedented package of seven bills to address our housing crisis. Marsha has been to D.C. three times in her life - first to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, and then in 2009 for Barack Obama’s first inauguration.  Marsha reminds me how a visit to our nation’s capital and its landmarks can still inspire and remind us of the democratic values its institutions are meant to embody. More than ever before, progressives need to work together to defeat Donald Trump, win back the White House and maintain the majority in the House of Representatives - the people’s House and the people’s voice. The good news is that People’s Action, our members, and our member groups are on the case.

Elizabeth Warren And The Glass Cieling

Warren talks about gender as she ends presidential bid. Boston Globe: "As Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race on Thursday, she paid homage to the young girls she met on the campaign trail who hoped she would become the first female president, and she addressed the difficulties of running for the nation’s highest office as a woman. 'One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That’s going to be hard,' she said outside her Cambridge home Thursday, shortly after announcing to her staff that she would drop out. The nod to 'pinky promises' stems from a ritual the Massachusetts senator developed over her 14 months of campaigning. As she greeted voters in selfie lines after her campaign events, she would often take a moment to tell young girls why she was running: 'Whenever I meet a little girl, I say: 'I’m running for president, because that’s what girls do,' and we pinky promise so they’ll remember.' In her remarks to reporters, Warren also addressed an elephant in the room: After starting out as one of the most diverse presidential fields in history, the race for the Democratic nomination is now a battle between two white men in their 70s. 'Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman,' Warren said. 'If you say, 'yeah there was sexism in this race,' everyone says 'whiner,' and if you say no there was no sexism, about a bazillion women think, 'what planet do you live on?'"

Social Security, Medicare On Chopping Block

Dems Pounce After Trump Says He Intends to Cut Entitlements. The Daily Beast:

"President Donald Trump said he intends to cut entitlement programs during a town hall forum in Pennsylvania on Thursday night. When Fox News host Martha MacCallum suggested that if “you don’t cut something in entitlements, you will never really deal with the debt,” Trump jumped in right away. 'Oh, we’ll be cutting,' he said to an audience in Scranton. 'We’re also going to have growth like you’ve never seen before.' The move would represent a change of direction, as Trump has generally maintained that he does not intend to trim such programs. In a tweet last month, he wrote: 'We will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget.' He has occasionally walked back similar comments on cutting entitlements. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, for example, the president was asked by a moderator how he would handle federal entitlement programs. He responded by saying “at some point they will be” on the chopping block. In a follow up question, when he was asked about Medicare, in particular, Trump said “we’re going to look” at it. In the following months, the president never attempted to enact cuts. In the midst of the Democratic primary, Trump’s remarks could receive particular attention for another reason: the location in which he delivered them. Pennsylvania, one of the most consequential battlegrounds of the general election, is a top target for Democrats looking to defeat Trump in the state scored a victory against Hillary Clinton in 2016."

Trump Pledges To Block Sanctuary City Funds

Trump says he will block U.S. funds to 'sanctuary' jurisdictions. Reuters: "President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would withhold money from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions after a U.S. court ruled that his administration could block federal law enforcement funds to states and cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The Republican president, who is seeking re-election in the Nov. 3 election, has taken a hardline stance toward legal and illegal immigration. His battle against Democratic-led “sanctuary” jurisdictions focuses on laws and policies that limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Cities and states that oppose such cooperation say it can discourage immigrants from coming forward to report crimes to law enforcement because of fears about their immigration status. Since the beginning of his administration Trump has tried to slash specific law enforcement grants to places that don’t comply with ICE requests for information, but his efforts have been challenged in court. On Feb. 26, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in favor of the administration and said the funding cuts were valid. But three other federal appeals courts have ruled against blocking such funds, setting up a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump in a tweet said it would move forward with the cuts."

GOP Dissidents File SCOTUS Brief To See Trump Taxes

37 Republicans file SCOTUS brief arguing Trump can't block tax fraud investigation. Newsweek: "number of former Republican lawmakers recently filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that President Donald Trump cannot stop the Manhattan District Attorney's tax fraud investigation. The brief, which was filed on Monday, was signed by 37 Republicans, including former members of Congress and the Executive Branch, as well as Trump critics George Conway and John Dean. According to the brief, the former Republican lawmakers, 'are concerned that President Trump's assertions of absolute immunity from process, while in office – and more generally his arguments against accountability in any forum – could impose lasting damage on our constitutional system of checks and balances as well as on the rule of law.' The brief stems from the subpoena issued by the Manhattan District Attorney and the subsequent response from Trump's lawyers. In August, the Manhattan District Attorney issued a grand-jury subpoena to Mazars USA, Trump's accounting firm. The subpoena was seeking the president's tax returns and financial records in regard to an investigation of alleged payments Trump made to two women he allegedly had affairs with. Following the subpoena issued by the district attorney's office, Trump's lawyers argued that criminally investigating a president while in office was unconstitutional, claiming that Trump was immune to investigation as well as prosecution. His lawyers sued to block the subpoena, but federal judges ruled against Trump, leading to the case being sent to the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on March 31."

The Demise Of Mike Bloomberg's Campaign

‘This Was a Grift’: Bloomberg Staffers Explain Campaign’s Demise. The Nation: "Michael Bloomberg ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday after being walloped on Super Tuesday. But, according to nearly a dozen members of his campaign staff, the former New York City mayor’s presidential dreams really died when Elizabeth Warren eviscerated his record on live television during the February 19 debate in Las Vegas. Not a single Bloomberg staffer that I spoke to was surprised by the campaign’s implosion. Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional reprisal and because of the campaign’s nondisclosure agreements—which The Nation obtained a leaked copy of in February—campaign employees cited that bruising debate as well as a general lack of enthusiasm for Bloomberg among the staff for ending his presidential run. 'Ever since the first debate all of us faced a ton of hostility [when knocking on] doors…and could hardly get any volunteers,' one field organizer told me. 'I once had a woman chase me back to my car demanding that I say you can’t buy the presidency.' Several members of the campaign described Bloomberg’s debate as the beginning of the end. As another field organizer put it, 'The people who liked Mike initially didn’t care about the sexual [harassment] allegations or stop and frisk, but they got turned off because they thought he made himself look weak and that he had let Warren walk all over him.'"

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