Protect Disability Benefits (SSDI) From Trump Budget Cuts

Saturday, June 10

(Adapted from 5 Calls)

Protect Disability Benefits (SSDI) From Trump Budget Cuts

During his campaign, Trump made repeated promises to preserve Social Security benefits. Despite these promises, his 2018 budget proposal recommends cutting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments to disabled workers by $72 billion over the next 10 years.

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Trump's administration argues that SSDI budget cuts will address wasteful and fraudulent access to these benefits. However, SSDI applicants must meet a host of eligibilty criteria to qualify for benefits. They must have worked a set number of years, have accumulated Social Security credits, and be under the age of 65. SSDI benefits are not overly generous (the US places 30th out of 34 peer countries for this type of benefit), nor are they easy to access - 60% of applications are denied. Despite these hurdles, there are nearly 9 million disabled workers currently receiving benefits; for 80% of beneficiaries, SSDI is their sole source of income.

These proposed SSDI cuts, particularly if combined with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and budget cuts to Medicaid, would devastate millions of Americans who are already struggling to stay afloat in the face of health issues and economic insecurity.

The House and Senate Budget Committees will use Trump's budget proposal as guidance when finalizing their own budget recommendations. Constituents must make it clear to our members of Congress that SSDI and other social safety net programs represent our core values of supporting those most in need, and must not be eliminated in order to provide tax breaks to corporations and the most wealthy Americans.

Action You Can Take Today

Call Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and let them know you care about protecting the vulnerable.

[Script]

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [TOWN].

I’m calling today because I’m strongly opposed to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) cuts proposed by Trump - millions of Americans benefit from this important program. I ask that Senator [Schumer / Gillibrand] strongly oppose cutting the SSDI budget and continue to support this and other critical social safety net programs.

OPTIONAL: Share story of how you or someone you know benefited from SSDI

Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]


Tell Sen. McConnell: Private Meetings On AHCA Are Wrong

Friday, June 9th

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

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Rather than hosting open discussions and gathering expert testimony, Senator Mitch McConnell is trying to push the AHCA ahead through closed-door meetings with fellow GOP members. (Read more: http://nbcnews.to/2qWJses

Action You Can Take Today


Comey Testifies: Ways to Watch

Thursday, June 8th

(Adapted from Rogan's List, Variety, and other sources)

 James Comey

For those who can watch, former FBI Director James Comey is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. The LA Times has a helpful synopsis on the events that have led up to this hearing, as well as what to expect from the hearing itself: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-what-to-know-comey-20170606-htmlstory.html

All of the cable news networks will carry the hearing live, while the broadcast networks will air Comey’s testimony during their morning shows.

Some TV Networks Prepare to Offer Comey Testimony Without Commercials

Most of the networks will be streaming coverage on their respective news websites and apps.

Viewers can also watch the hearing unfold via Twitter, via the platform’s partnership with Bloomberg News

 


Tell Congress: Vote NO on HR 10 (Financial Choice Act)

Wednesday, June 6th

Don't Allow Congress to Gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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As reported today by NBC News:


Republicans in Congress are focused on eliminating regulations — including many put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the financial crisis that peaked in 2008. The Financial CHOICE Act, which passed the House Financial Services Committee on a 34-26 party line vote last week, is the first attempt to do that. The CHOICE Act would do more than reduce financial regulations enacted under the Obama administration. It also targets the CFPB, the regulatory agency created by Dodd-Frank to police the financial marketplace. Among other things, the bill would:

  1. Strip away the agency’s authority to regulate large banks and payday lenders
  2. Remove its power to prosecute companies that engage in unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices
  3. Eliminate independent funding from the Federal Reserve Bank and give Congress the power to set the CFPB’s budget
  4. Allow Congress to kill any major financial rules proposed by the agency; both houses would have to give their approval within 60 days
  5. Stop public access to the CFPB’s database of more than 1.1 million consumer complaints.

Consumer advocates argue that the bill would cripple the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers and give special interest groups a way to influence regulation of the financial system through the congressional appropriations and approval process.

“The bill neuters the CFPB and would leave consumers more vulnerable to financial scams, hidden fees and costly gotchas that can undermine their financial security,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union (CU), the policy arm of Consumer Reports. CU has launched a petition campaign to kill the bill.

The House vote on the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R 10) is this week.  The act would relieve retirement advisors of any obligation to put  clients' interests first; it would restrict the right of customers ripped off by banks (think Wells Fargo) to go to court by demanding forced arbitration; it would gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Action You Can Take Today

Public Citizen urges us to contact our Representatives immediately. Visit http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13526 and our own info page for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-19).

Bonus Action: Take a moment to visit the CFPB website - tons of interesting information there!


Three Actions on Ethics Investigations

Today, a smorgasbord of actions on ethics investigations.

  1. Attack on the press corps: “A national coalition of press groups urged a congressional ethics panel on Friday to consider disciplinary action against Montana's newly elected congressman, who is charged with throwing a reporter to the ground during a confrontation a day before the election.”  (Read more.)

    Write to the Office of Congressional Ethics and tell them that you agree and want a recommendation sent to the House Ethics Committee to enforce disciplining Rep. Gianforte.  We cannot normalize our legislators as assaulters.  Contact them here:  https://oce.house.gov/contact-us/.

  2. Private prison profits, Trump and Sessions: GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of the private prison company GEO Group, donated to a pro-Trump super PAC during the 2016 election; a move which was arguably illegal, as federal contractors cannot make political donations (Read more). 

    A complaint was filed in November of 2016 by the Campaign Legal Group, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog, yet there seems to be no word of any progress being made since the filing. The GEO Group stands to profit immensely through the Trump Administration, with Jeff Sessions' reinstatement of the "War on Drugs" where people will be convicted and placed in prison for lesser crimes, ICE's rounding up of immigrants to be placed in detention facilities, and Trump's stated focus on "law and order."  Remember also that when Trump was elected, stocks in private prison companies surged on the expectation that Trump would rescind the Obama administration's decision to phase out use of private prisons, paving the way for more private prison profits. (Read more.)

    Send a message to the Federal Elections Commission that you expect them to follow through on Campaign Legal Group's complaint, and investigate the GEO Group. Email them at [email protected] and then sign Color of Change's petition to the FEC Commissioners: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/no-pay-for-play/

  3. Deflection on Russia: In a very unconventional move, “White House press aides since (last) Tuesday have been directing all reporters asking about any of the (Russia) probes to contact the president’s New York-based outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz.” In doing so, “They’re saying both that the government is no longer responsible for addressing these issues and someone who the president pays privately is. That’s new territory.” (Read more.)

    Tell the Office of Government Ethics that you do not think this is appropriate.

    Contact them here: https://www.oge.gov/web/oge.nsf/Organization/Contact%20Us?opendocument